How to experience a transformation at university

In the previous blog post, you were invited to reflect on your own definition of success. If you haven’t done it yet, you can still coin your own definition of success here. While many of you attribute success to hard work, there is a tendency, which shows that transformational experience is what many of you are seeking in your educational quest. In general, transformational experience can be defined as personal growth and development. Embarking on this quest, however tempting it might sound, requires a growth mindset and other soft skills that I want to discuss in this blog post.

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What is a growth mindset?

Picture this scene. One of the seminar sessions requires you to deliver an individual presentation. You have 3 weeks to design a PPT and you will deliver it face to face during the seminar. You have prepared the presentation, rehearsed it and finally, delivered it to the lecturer and other students. At the end of the term, it turned out that you got only 55% while you had thought that you would score at least 10 points more. Deep down, you know that you did your best and that you could have scored a higher grade. But a few days later having reflected on your performance, you have realised that perhaps you could e.g. interact more with the audience and rely less on your notes. If you have a fixed mindset, you will think that next time you won’t be able to make your presentation more interesting or deliver it with fewer notes. On contrary, a growth mindset means that you can learn how to become a more interesting presenter or how to give a presentation without reading from the slides or feeling stresses. In fact, you know how to find relevant sources and design a presentation, but what you might not be good at is the delivery part of PPTs. As Roberts (2022) claims, ‘a growth mindset is all about lifelong learning and believing in your ability to develop skills and grow your abilities over time’. As a university student, you will find yourself in new situations, situations you have not faced before. Only by taking on new challenges, will you be able to develop your personal confidence and experience the transformation you expect from your university experience.

Teamwork as a university challenge

Teamwork is considered as one of the top skills sought by employers and one that is often pointed out by students as a key ability on the path to academic success. Interestingly enough, research shows that even though teamwork is regarded as vital to achieving a major success in group projects, many students underperform when working in groups. One of the reasons for that might be that not all groups can form successful teams. In my experience as an academic lecturer, teams fail to work together effectively mainly due to poor communication skills. One of the obstacles behind poor teamwork skills can a fixed mindset. By working with familiar faces only, students miss on many opportunities such as tapping into other people’s talents and potentials. By adapting a growth mindset, students can develop openness and willingness to exploring new solutions. In the end, studying at university is about developing critical thinking skills, which can be sharpened by working in different scenarios. The other obstacle that stands behind underperformance in teamwork are poor communication skills. One of the tools that can greatly facilitate communication and consequently, teamwork is Google documents. By sharing a Google form, spreadsheet or slides, students can work on the same document in real time, and most importantly from different places. As a result, working in a team becomes more convenient and can work well to different timetables.

Self-organisation and time management

Self-organisation and time management come often together as concepts that are well-defined and understood, but not necessarily well dealt with. With the focus being placed on meeting professional and academic deadlines, self-organisational and time management can no longer be part of concepts widely discussed but they need to be finally applied to everyday scenarios. Consequently, task prioritization becomes an essential skill for students and professionals. At this point, it is crucial to remember that task prioritization has its roots in a Latin word ‘prior’, meaning ‘former’. In other words, ‘priority’ denotes the first (or prime) thing to be done or noticed. When setting your goals and tasks, think of this one thing, one project that needs to be done first, and therefore, is the most important for you and that will consume the most of your time and energy. Focusing on too many tasks can end up with the feeling of stress and overwhelm.

Fast action tips and advice

To summarise, university experience goes beyond academic attainment and is more often perceived as a transformational experience that is ought to strengthen personal and professional traits. In order to observe this transformation, it is essential to develop a growth mindset and a range of soft skills such as teamwork and self-organisation and time management (as the ones you have pointed out in my latest poll as the ones you struggle with the most). Consider the following tools and analogies to help you reflect on your abilities to organise your time and set your priorities.

  1. Rocks sand and pebbles – watch my video here
  2. Priority matrix – download the guide here
  3. Get a journal or download a task management application. Research shows that personal accountability breeds confidence and success. In other words, if you set yourself a goal of e.g., exercising every other day for about 20 mins and you stick with it for about a month, you start to trust yourself more and you will become convinced that you can reach your own goals. I suggest buying a simple paper journal (if you’re anything like me – an old schoolgirl) or download a phone application such as Notion 2.0, Asana or Trello, where you’ll be able to track your goals.


Roberts, G., L. (2022) Mindset Matters. London: Kogan Page.