Success Coaching blog Archives - Southwestern Illinois College

New Attitude

Man and woman studying a paper.

Want to know how I made tests go from soul-crushing failures to exciting puzzles I wanted to solve?  Well let me tell you a little story.  It was summer, and I recall everyone talked about vacation.

This was back in the day, and I was excited to take classes. Well, not always, in all honesty. But after I learned some cool things about mindset and perspective, the way I looked at things changed dramatically.

As my attitude evolved; I found I was no longer working, but excited to challenge myself and solve little mysteries in learning.

This whole transformation was due to the research of Stanford University psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carole Dweck. Her work led to the idea that mindset (beliefs) are more important than talent or intelligence in determining a person’s success. Dweck wrote that a fixed mindset limits the individual, while a growth mindset encourages, well, growth and change.

Dweck explained:

A fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence and talents are fixed traits that created success – not effort. The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue focused on judging. If it’s hard for me, I must be a loser.

Growth mindset: The belief that the most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. They constantly monitor what’s going on without judging. Always asking, How can I improve?

The steps below spell out how to make the change.

Steps to Turn a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset

Step1. Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”

When you hit a setback or face criticism, the fixed mindset voice creates self-doubt. Identify negative thoughts and the message.

Step 2. Recognize that you have a choice.

It is your choice how you interpret setbacks and challenges. You can interpret them as signs that you are permanently lacking, or as a signal that it’s time to try new strategies, consider advice, and increase efforts.

Step 3. As you face challenges, setbacks, and criticism, respond to your fixed mindset voice with a growth mindset voice.

Step 4. Take the growth mindset action.

Over time, which voice you follow becomes pretty much your choice. Practice hearing both voices, and practice acting on the growth mindset. See how you can make it work for you. All it takes is some practice to turn your limiting language into supporting, encouraging self-messages.


Dweck, Carole. “Mindsets.” Image, (2019)

Growth mindset brain image.  Retrieved 23 May, 2024, from

Take the Time Management Tiger by the Tale

I’ve been spreading the word about time management for a long time, and I wondered how students – such as peer tutors in the Success Center – scheduled their assignments and study time.

“Time Management is great when you use it,” English peer tutor Haley D. laughed wryly. 

She said it starts with keeping her planner up to date.

“Having a timeline helps you think about what’s important instead of nitpicking the little things.”

Peter B-F agrees. He is also an English peer tutor, but instead of a physical planner, Peter uses the Reminder app that came on his iPhone.

“It’s too easy to forget assignments without it,” he said.

Here’s what the Apple website posted about the Reminder app:

Use Reminders on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

With the Reminders app on iOS 13 or later and iPadOS, you can create reminders with subtasks and attachments, and set alerts based on time and location. You can ask Siri to schedule a reminder for you on your iOS device or your Apple Watch.

If you have an android phone, Google has a Reminders app that works in a similar way:

Beautiful and easy to use interface, minimum of clicks, try it and you will like it! 

Enter reminders directly in the list row at one click or voice input
Quickly create, delete, transfer and search reminders
Lists of reminders, tasks, shopping, missed calls, birthdays and more

“Time management can make you healthier,” Peter added, “because you can get more sleep.”

For those new to time management, it is about planning for the day and week which includes planning for enough sleep each night.

“It also causes less stress,” Haley said. And she’s right. A lack of time management routines often causes anxiety as the student rushes to complete assignments by deadline. College is hard enough without inviting problems.

To get started, click here to access the Success Center’s handout Strategies for Time Management

First, add all assignments and due dates in your planner or online calendar. Then to figure out when to study, fill out a time management grid (the last page of the Strategies for Time Management handout.)

If you need accountability or have other academic concerns, make an appointment for Success Coaching. Success Coaching is free and offers support with time management and other behaviors that affect learning such as test anxiety, memorization, or mindset.

The two tutors differ in their approach to time management and they complete assignments in different ways as well, but it works for them. Haley likes finishing as much of her work as she can as soon as it’s assigned. Peter spreads his work out over the week.

Whether you’re like Haley or Peter doesn’t matter as long as you have a system that works for you.  If you are struggling with time management, call or stop by the Success Center and schedule an appointment for Success Coaching.


Did you know?

Did you know you can do one single thing to reduce pain and insomnia, as well as strengthen your immune system.

But that’s not all! 

This miracle activity can also lead to healthier relationships and academic and professional success.

You don’t have to pay a fortune, starve yourself, or work your core until you have abs of steel. 

“Only a few minutes each day”

All you have to do is spend a few minutes each day sincerely expressing gratitude.

Regular gratitude practice can boost both your mental and your physical health. According to Psychology Today, “Grateful people are indeed less likely to have mental health problems like depression.” One study found that a gratitude intervention increased mental resilience in a group of older adults.  

Another study cited in Psychology Today,  suggests that spending even a few minutes engaging in a gratitude activity, such as writing a letter of gratitude to a loved one, can motivate you to make healthy food choices.

Need some ideas to get started? 

The Greater Good Center at Berkley suggests these:

  • Keep a handwritten or electronic journal of big and little joys of daily life.  Go into detail about a particular person or thing for which you’re grateful; this carries more benefits than a surface-level list of many things.
  • Write down “three good things”—identify three things that have gone well for you and write about the cause.
  • Write thank-you notes to others and give them to the recipients.
  • Think about people who have inspired you and what was significant about them.
  • Engage in “mental subtraction.” Imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred.
  • Add this twist to step up your gratitude game: At the end of each week, thank someone  you know about something specific—Thanks for being such a good listener yesterday!—and then reflect on the person’s response and their feelings.  

When we share the gratitude that we’re journaling about, according to the study, the practice becomes even more beneficial.

Feeling grateful is a skill one can develop. If you find yourself feeling tired of the stresses you’re facing, think of something that can make you feel thankful, then share that with someone.

If you want to improve your gratitude habits or work on other academic or professional goals, do not hesitate to contact a Success Coach. 

Plus, get a free gratitude journal while supplies last with a coaching appointment!

More information can be found at:

“Gratitude” reviewed by Psychology Today Staff

“How to Upgrade Your Gratitude Practice”

“Tips to Foster Gratitude”

How Do I Cultivate It?

Calm Down

With a nod to Rema and Selena Gomez, today’s topic is about what most college students need but rarely get enough of: rest and relaxation.

I will never forget waiting for Spring Break – getting wound up like a crossbow by mid-term exams and barely able to relax during break.

So, before you find yourself in a similar position, try one or more of these activities to help you calm down and enjoy not only your week off but the rest of the semester.

  1. Unplug – Press the off button and step away from your devices.
    Spend time in nature
    Read a book for pleasure
    Spend time with family and friends
    Take a warm bath with candles or create an at-home spa
  2. Practice Self-Compassion by forgiving yourself for making perceived mistakes or errors in judgement
    Catch up on sleep and create a consistent sleep routine
    Seek support if needed (Wellness Advocate Ami Lilley-Plexico; TimelyCare; mentor; or spiritual leader)
    Listen to music
    Set boundaries – take control and protect your time.
  3. Practice Mindfulness – Mindfulness means keeping a moment-by-moment non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
    Try yoga or tai chi
    Create art or other activity that requires your total focus (i.e., cooking, gardening)
    Learn box breathing or other breathing practice
  4. Stay active – enough
    Go jogging or hiking
    Play a solo or team sport
    Take yourself out to an art fair, play, or new restaurant
  5. Get Creative
    Pick up a new skill or dance move
    Plan a staycation
    Reorganize your room or personal space; clear out clutter

Spend a proper amount of time each week taking care of yourself whether you’re in school or on break. This will help you do your best in all areas of your life.

If you want some help setting some rest and relaxation goals, call 618-235-2700 ext. 5495.

You may also use this link to make a coaching appointment:

We look forward to seeing you soon. And if you mention that you saw this blog or one of our other Success Coaching blogs, you can pick something from our collection of free gifts and prizes.

Find Your Purpose with Success Coaching

Sometimes, on that freeway of life, we find that we would like to make a turn. For instance, it  happened to Jami Houston, Director of Success Programs here at SWIC. Before she even began her first semester of college, Jami said she found herself changing majors.

“I applied to college as a history, pre-law major,” she explained. “I really had no idea what I wanted to do. A conversation with my dad, led me to think about sports marketing. When I went to orientation to register for my first semester classes, I knew I didn’t want to major in history, so the advisor changed me to undecided.”

Once Jami started the semester, she met with her advisor who “let me know some options including advertising, marketing, and leisure studies. I didn’t want to do the math required for marketing, so I chose advertising.”

If you have found that you are not thrilled with your major and you’re almost through the first (second or third) semester, you are not alone. About a third of all students change their major at least one time.

There are actions you can take if you are not sure about your current choice of major to help you narrow down the list or if you are still undecided. From creating a personal mission statement to identifying your interests, you can get closer to discovering your unique purpose.

But first, determine if you really need to change your major. For example, if you are struggling or uninterested in your classes, that may be a sign to consider a different degree plan. In addition, if you are not interested in pursuing a career in the major you have chosen, or if you only chose it because of the potential for lots of money, then you should probably change directions.

“Mean” professors and difficult courses are not usually reasons to switch majors.


Some methods that students have used to determine their major include knowing what they are good at and taking general education courses to help find out what they like.  Talking to an advisor or the Career Center can help you uncover your interests. Also, ask people with careers you’d like to have what their major was in college.

If you don’t have a strong sense of what your academic interests are, think about the classes and projects you have enjoyed.  Also, think about people who have changed your life for the better. Brainstorm how you like spending your time and list any skills you possess that you are proud of.

Another key to finding your interests is identifying what activities create a state of flow or put you ‘in the zone.’  These are terms that describe having a feeling of energized focus as you enjoy and are totally immersed in your what you are doing. This is a good indicator of something you may want to pursue as a career or hobby.

Also, spend time with people who inspire you. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with positive, goal-driven people who lift you up. You may even want to evaluate your relationships with friends to make sure you are not stuck in unproductive or unhealthy patterns of behavior.


If you’re asking yourself, “What is my purpose?” you’re not alone. One study showed that only ¼ of American adults say they have a clear sense of purpose.

Think about what you believe in and think about the social causes you support.  Even consider what you would like to be remembered for at the end of your life. Ensure that passion — not duty — drives your purpose. What are some ideals you believe are important for living a good life?

Also, what kind of impact or change would you like to bring about in your community or the world? A mission statement states what you are going to do and why. The mission statement serves as a constant reminder of what is important to you.

Finally, adopt a growth mindset because it allows you to:

  • Embrace challenges as opportunities
  • Persevere in spite of failure 
  • Accept feedback and constructive criticism

When asked how changing majors worked out in the long run, Jami said,  “After college, I did work in advertising/communication briefly. But since then I’ve worked in event management, recreation, human resources, college admissions, academic support, and leadership with every position building on the experience I gained from the last. While I didn’t end up with a career in advertising, I still use the skills I learned from the degree such as working with people, understanding cultures, and professional communication skills.”

If you would like some help with creating your mission statement or learning more about a growth mindset, you may use this link to make a coaching appointment:

*Be sure and always meet with an advisor before dropping or adding classes!

For More Information

Undecided? Here are four steps to choosing a major

Start finding your purpose and unlock your best life

How to Know When You Should (or Shouldn’t) Switch Your Major

5 ways to find your purpose before choosing your major

Lead with Strengths

It’s true, everyone will face complications or obstacles at some point in their lives.  When you hit that rough patch, how you react often determines whether or not you are successful. 

Like, if I fail a math test, which behavior will help me the most?  Blaming the teacher?  Feeling sorry for myself? Neither of those will help me learn the material or improve my score on the next test.

So how can you prepare for reacting positively to something bad that happens? 

Try this. To reach success, prepare to lead with your best qualities and strengths.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?

But how do you know what your best qualities are?

Well, we have two ways students can identify their strengths:  Success Coaching and the CliftonStrengths Assessment.

Success Coaching is about getting to know yourself, and, the Core Motivation Tool empowers the student through identifying their unique strengths and weaknesses. In coaching sessions, a student explores how to use this tool for personal and professional growth.

Through Success Coaching, a student can identify which strength to bring to a situation and practice using that strength. The Core Motivation tool helps a student gain a different perspective of themselves.  It makes changing less personal and thus easier to accomplish.

The second option, The CliftonStrengths Assessment, is a survey that will provide your top five personal strengths with an informational guide printed for each one with some practical uses.

CliftonStrengths empowers you to achieve outcomes faster and with less friction by intentionally leaning into what you do best. It’s a development tool – the more you use your strengths, the stronger they get. 

Both require at least one appointment with the Success Coach. The CliftonStrengths Assessment is a 60-question survey that takes approximately 30 minutes and is to be completed before the coaching appointment.

Find out what your best qualities are what they can help you become. Because it’s not the stressor, it’s how you react to it.

Make an appointment with Success Coach through Bookings, the QR code below, or call or visit the Success Center LA Room 1307 | 618-235-2700 ext. 5495

QR code

Start like a pro!  Sign up for Success Coaching!

Have you ever watched professional athletes on television and wondered what you could do if you had a coach closely supporting you along the way?

Well, now you can have a SWIC Success Coach to be there as you become as successful as you are willing to be.

Success Coaching is a new program to support students as they navigate the many demands of college life.

You come to the coaching session and decide what areas you would like to work on.  Maybe it’s procrastination.  Maybe it’s simply getting enough sleep.  Or, perhaps you are trying to figure out all the campus resources so you can make sure you’re not missing out on something important.

The goal is only limited by your imagination.

Success Coaching offers holistic support – meaning we build connections with others across campus, and provide you, the student, a network of helpful individuals plus the opportunity to design action steps to meet your goals.

Don’t know what your goals are?  We can explore that as well.

In Success Coaching we help you identify obstacles to learning and provide individualized support.

Your responsibilities: Keep an open and growth mindset when completing tasks.

During a 30-45-minute session, you will decide how often to meet, schedule the next appointment, and set the purpose of the meeting.

Make an appointment with Success Coach through Bookings, the QR code below, or call or visit the Success Center LA Room 1307 | 618-235-2700 ext. 5495

QR Code The Success Experiment

Launch in the Success Center!

Launch in the Success Center is one of the resources that I tell new students about.

Not only can they help with small technology problems such as resetting your password or getting into Brightspace, they can also help with figuring out where your classes are, introduce you to tutors, and show you how to study better.

I asked Jessika, one of my Success Coaching students, to tell others about this program for new college students. 

“Launch begins with a survey called the LASSI – the Learning and Studies Strategies Inventory. This survey asks about 60 questions related to how you study.

They told me the best way to get anything out of it is to tell the truth.

I mean if you’re having trouble with math and think about math all the way through the survey, it will affect your answers, right? 

You don’t have to focus on just one troublesome class. You can think about all of them in general. 

I changed how I approached my homework after I spoke with the Specialist about the LASSI. 

For example, I would ordinarily wait until about a week before the test to start studying for it.  BUT! I learned that the best time to start memorizing facts for the test is the first day of class for courses like biology and chemistry.  

But I also learned about the Success Center in general. I can go in there and just use the computers if I want to, or I can ask for help on my English or math or whatever.

They do a really good job of trying to help me solve a problem. They don’t necessarily claim to know all the answers, but they can help you sort out the problem and figure out how to get the answer. 

My recommended study tip is sometime during the first two weeks of the new semester, I urge everyone to go through Launch.

Not only will it help you get organized for the new semester, but they can also help you figure out how to study, where to study, when to study, and how to get an A in your class.

I know that my GPA (grade point average) improved because I always went to the Success Center to do my homework even if I didn’t ask for help; just being there kept me focused on my work.”

– Jessika 

So! Remember the first two weeks of the semester: go into the Success Center on Belleville or Granite City campus at least 45 minutes before closing and Launch Your Success.

Or give yourself time out of your day because it really pays off throughout the rest of the semester.

Thanks to our peer tutor for sharing their thoughts with us.

– Success Coach 

Response by the Success
Coaching Team 

The Success Center provides tutoring and academic support to all SWIC students.  This 2022 Class Climate result shows 94% of the students agree that they benefitted from receiving this support at the Success Center. 

Table 1 

FY 2022 Success Programs Top
Six Key Performance Indicators


FY22 SC % 

Percent of students who agree or strongly agree to the satisfaction survey question:  I am satisfied with and have benefited from my experiences in the Success Center.