28 Janvier 2019
We talk about Geoff Colvin here at IvyZen. The full title of the book is Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. In it, Colvin breaks down our misunderstandings about how people like Mozart and Olympic athletes achieve fantastic success. He argues quite convincingly that it is based on deliberate practice and that talent has a lot less to do with it than we think.
The idea of deliberate practice from John Hayes, a cognitive psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon. He studied greats we consider having extraordinary talent, eg Mozart. What he found in his research on great composers was not one, not even Mozart, produced at least ten years of practice. This pattern was found in famous painters and poets as well. Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours.
But these researchers discovered that there was another ingredient and the time was spent. The time was spent practicing in a veryspecific way. Deliberate practice is defined by four characteristics:
1) There must be motivated effort. It takes concentration, effort and a bit of inspiration.
2) The practice tasks must be based on pre-existing knowledge or experience, ie it can not be so much that your student is spending most of your time trying to understand it.
3) Clear feedback. Did he / she do it well or not? If not, what exactly did he / she do wrong? If well, how was it done well?
4) Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
One note about this one: it's not fun anymore. That's part of the difficulty of mastering skills. Remind your student that is not play, it's work. But it's good work because it's meaningful and purposeful.
What does this have to do with College Admissions?
Colleges want to see students who are dedicated and passionate. That's no secret. But for some reason, many do not seem to understand how to actually demonstrate that. One of the biggest mistakes students make in their essays is to talk about the future (only). They talk about how much they love biology because they want to become a lot of people in the future. These types of descriptions are the essence of "weak" essays. They do not really show that you care about biology. What would you really be doing? Skills expressed through lab work, research papers, club activities and academic competitions really show that you care.
IvyZen is the ultimate source for the Ivy League . Learn about Early Decision rates, accepted application rates, and Ivy League standings with our statistics. At IvyZen, we mentor students and help them create a theme and work on the specific activities to build out that theme; when we work on these activities
For example, a student with a number theory is going to AMC (American Mathematics Competition). One of the skills he must master is exercising judgment on which questions to skip. The point system awards 6 points for a correct answer, 1.5 points for a blank answer (skipped) and 0 points for a wrong answer. Also, it's a timed test and the questions increase in level of difficulty from start to finish. So a student must work on this skill alone, taking test after test and measuring his performance.
We've been working with students for a long time. But our mentors are skilled at encouraging them to continue to improve their skills. They do not know what to do. A one hour tutoring session is exhausting, but six months of it is always up to one of our students.
We suggest parents to spend some time on activities and identify specific skills that students show some aptitude for. Also spend some time researching to confirm that the top schools are looking for you. You can tell at the school, research centers on campus and other programs.
Then come up with a simple, but systematic plan of action to get better at those skills. Learning how to do your best practice is a skill in yourself and your student time to learn. Focusing here will pay huge dividends within six months and can help a great deal in gaining admissions to the top schools. IvyZen is the official academic consultant for Ivy League schools . Get into top colleges and grad schools with secrets from our college and Ivy League admissions experts.