Succeed at Pitt Toolkit

Doing well in college means staying engaged, staying focused, and staying motivated. As such, there is a sort of unwritten curriculum that helps you master how to learn, and not just what to learn. Decades of research from psychology and education have revealed consistent psychological factors that predict better performance among students in college. Those factors determine whether students stay engaged and perform at their full potential, or not. Through this interactive workshop, you will learn about the specific strategies empirically proven to predict better student outcomes, giving you the competitive advantage you need to succeed in college. 

In-person trainings are offered twice a year. To keep updated about upcoming dates for the fall term please fill out this interest form

How to Succeed in School and Life Introduction- We all aspire to do more, to be more, to contribute more. And yet, many of us consistently fall short of our desired goals,  and allow our performance to be dampened by external demands or reduced motivational forces. To perform at a higher level of performance, we must first identify those barriers, and then begin the intentional process of fostering more adaptive mindsets that allow us to succeed. In this training, you will learn about insights from social psychology that can help to give you the competitive edge you seek.

Mindset & Frontiers of Ability: How to Become Smart- Decades of research in psychology has identified the impact of our beliefs on our achievement. Why is it that some are able to come back over and over again to tackle very difficult tasks, while others tend to give up more quickly? The answer has to do with your mindset. In this section, we will identify a handful of optimal mindsets that you can cultivate in order to give you a competitive advantage in school. 

Master Your Myopia: Managing the Hot System- Despite our best intentions, and our more valiant efforts, we find ourselves getting distracted, procrastinating, and losing focus. These are not due to shortcomings of strength of character, these are due to the normal functioning of your brain. Your brain is designed to focus on the next immediate rewards or risk. It is not adapted to keep the long-term close in mind. In this section, we will identify how you can overcome this default programming, and take better control over your will power.

Embrace Bad Beginnings: Anything Worth Doing Well is Worth Doing Poorly (at first)- In order to progress towards mastering new skills, we must take that first step.
Many people avoid getting started because of the fear of not being good at something when they first try it. To get a competitive edge, we simply have to start. In this video, we go through why this is the case.

Giving up on Grit: Building Resilience through Networks- Despite the widespread popularity of the notion of grit, there may be some nuances to how you can actually become more resilient. In this module, we identify the harmful effects that our culture of ‘grit mania’ has been promoting, and instead offer a more sustainable model of resilience that is likely to ease the challenges ahead.

Self-Authored Goals: Taking Ownership Back of Your Own Destination- The fundamental theories on effective goal setting identify 3 key components: (1) they need to be challenging, (2) they need to be specific, and (3) they need to be self-authored. However, the third component (self-authoring goals) is almost always overlooked. In this video, we will discuss how you can take ownership over your own goals again, and actually be able benefit from those goals.

Here’s what other students had to say about the training

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Testimonial 5 (Remote Workshop)

Dr. Omid Fotuhi is a researcher in the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at Pitt, whose work focuses on the psychology of performance and motivation in the domains of academics, athletics, and workplace achievement. Dr. Fotuhi earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Waterloo, after which he worked at Stanford University where he co-founded one of the largest multi-institution collaborations to deliver proven interventions to over 40,000 students. He is a skilled trainer, having led 45 professional development workshops at colleges and universities across the United States to help faculty, administrators, advisors, and students better understand the psychology of success, and equip those groups with the tools they need to perform at their full potential. You can reach Dr. Fotuhi by email at