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Welcome to the Mentor Learning Center

OCTOBER Class of 2019

Growth Mindset, Academic Check-In, and FAFSA Renewal

With the fall semester in full-swing, now is the time to check-in on course schedules and academics.  Pairs should take time this month to talk about fixed vs growth mindsets, an important conversation about how students can approach academic preparation and performance. Finally, with FAFSA renewal applications opening October 1st, take time during your check-in to discuss preparation for completing the FAFSA renewal and/or other financial aid applications as soon as possible. Remember, federal financial aid is awarded on a first come, first-served basis! Read more below and remember to reach out to your Program Manager for support. 

Want to learn more about college persistence for first-generation students? Check out our most recent article on the Learning Center: Understanding College Persistence

And check out these recent articles on academic probation and submitting appeals: 

Academic Probation and What Students and Mentors Can Do 

Submitting Student Academic Appeals: What to Know and Do

Discussion Topic #1- Growth Mindset

Studies on why students drop out show that freshman year is the time when students are most likely to leave college—not because they can't do well in class, but rather because the fear of failing pushes them to give up. This view is often referred to as a “fixed mindset”—a student's inability to think through solutions and problem solve challenges. 

In order to develop strategies for overcoming challenges, take this time to read about and discuss fixed vs. growth mindset.  Remember to discuss the importance of acknowledging and embracing one’s weaknesses, viewing challenges as opportunities, and cultivating a growth mindset.

Mentors: start by sharing examples of times where you displayed a fixed mindset and times where you displayed a growth mindset. Share the following with your mentee:

  • In your example about fixed mindset, how did it feel and why do you believe you were unable to develop a growth mindset?
  • What is your biggest lesson learned from this experience?
  • What impact did the experience have on how you approached challenging situations?
  • In your example about having a growth mindset, how did it feel and why do you believe you were able to see the challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow?
  • As you reflect on these experiences, identifyand share a few of the insights that you gained and lessons you learned. Allow your mentee to ask any follow-up questions.

Mentees: start by sharing an example of a time where you displayed a fixed mindset and a time where you displayed a growth mindset. Share the following with your mentor:

  • Why do you believe you had a fixed mindset?
  •  At any point, were you able to view the challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow? Why? Why not?
  • Having reflected on these experiences, what are your biggest lessons learned?  
  • Based on these experiences, how might you approach future challenges differently?

An important and related topic is time management. If you didn't discuss this last month, take some time now to review and discuss two resources:  Ways to Take Control of Your Time and how to improve your time management skills (includes a list of tips and tricks). 

Discussion Topic #2  Academic Check-In

Mentees: take the lead by talking through your fall course schedule, class by class, sharing how you are feeling about each class. Next, use the prompts below to discuss how you will best prepare (and access people and resources) to perform at your best this semester.

  1. What is your most challenging class (or classes)? 
  2. Have you started to address these challenges?
  3. Do you feel that you have successfully engaged in a growth mindset when thinking about these challenges?
  4. What about mid-terms for each class? How are you feeling about these exams?
  5. How are you preparing for mid-terms? How can you practice better time management to ensure you are successful?
  6. What are some of your achievements so far this semester? How can you capitalize on your strengths to perform even better academically this semester?

As you discuss, think back to last month's discussion about accessing resources and revisit these important topics: 

  • meeting with your academic advisor
  • attending office hours
  • visiting student support services for additional academic or other support

Mentors:  close the discussion by reflectingon what has been shared. Share any additional suggestions for next steps and remember to update your program manager or any immediate support needs. 

Discussion Topic #3-  FAFSA Renewal and Other Financial Aid

Students can begin submitting the FAFSA renewal application for the 2020-2021 school year beginning October 1st. With federal funds awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, students should begin preparing to submit as soon as possible.

Students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every school year to be considered for federal student aid. The Renewal FAFSA is a way for you to save time and reapply without having to fill out the whole application each year. Much of the information is carried forward into a Renewal FAFSA.

If students submitted FAFSA last year, they may be able to start a Renewal FAFSA using their FSA ID. Students must update any pre-filled information that has changed since last year and provide the financial information requested.

Need a refresher on navigating the financial aid process? Check out this article to learn the basics.

Need information on financial aid for undocumented students? Start here to find answers to some common questions undocumented students have about paying for college.

For information on state- based financial aid, start here to research and confirm eligibility requirements for state programs.

Close the discussion by making a list of follow-up items for your next check-in. Remember to reach out directly to your Program Manager for support!