'…the belief that students were often blocked from living up to their potential by the presence of certain fears and anxieties and doubts…These feelings were especially virulent at moments of educational transition—like the freshman year of high school or the freshman year of college. And they seemed to be particularly debilitating among members of groups that felt themselves to be under some special threat or scrutiny: women in engineering programs, first-generation college students, African-Americans in the Ivy League.'
The negative thoughts took different forms in each individual…but they mostly gathered around two ideas. One set of thoughts was about belonging. Students in transition often experienced profound doubts about whether they really belonged—or could ever belong—in their new institution. The other was connected to ability. Many students believed in what Carol Dweck had named an entity theory of intelligence—that intelligence was a fixed quality that was impossible to improve through practice or study.