This post comes after seeing the word "mindset" in seemingly just about every essay rough draft I've seen over the last few years. This is also my first grammar post, so with our highly educated audience, I expect I should be in a defensive mindset.
I hate the word and always suggest removing it when I see it, but I think there might be little mindset elves magically putting the word back in before the essays head off to college. In my mind I always see it spelled mind-(2,-2).
Mindset started out as educational jargon started in 1920 according to the "Online Etymology Dictionary." It is defined as, "habits of mind formed by previous experience." It's use has since spread like locusts to psychology and game theory.
Mindset is jargon and jargon should be avoided in college essays and most other writing as well.
Instead of saying, "I have a winning mindset," write, "I see myself as a winner." Or even, "I think like a winner," or better yet, "I am a winner."
Instead of writing, "My mindset changed when I got the D in APUSH and developed a studious mindset," write, "I received a wake-up call when I got a D in APUSH and since then I've been a serious student."
Even Beloit College has gotten into the act with a "The Mindset List for the Class of 2016." Why can't they just say "Class of 2016 - Their View of the World."
Also this week a student wrote about her intrinsic motivation.
"Do you mean you are self-motivated?" I asked.
"Yes, but we learned the word in AP Psych class."
I even think the psychologists are using the word incorrectly. Out here in the real world, one can have intrinsic self-motivation, or intrinsic external motivation. According to Webster, intrinsic is, "belonging to the essential nature of a thing." Some people are intrinsically externally motivated.
John's rule of thumb: If you learn a world in AP Psych, AP Econ, or AP Environmental Science, leave it in the classroom and out of the college essay. There are plenty of great words in English class you can use for all occasions. They worked for Ernest Hemingway, Harper Lee, F. Scott Fitzgerald and even Tom Clancy. They can work for you, too.
I'm intrinsically motivated to share my mindset with Beloit College when I see them at the Colleges That Change Lives college fair later tonight!