College will give you many opportunities. Perhaps the most significant is the opportunity to change into the person you want to be. The knowledge gained in classrooms and laboratories will develop the foundation of technical skills needed for a career. Success, however, requires more than that.
Success also involves professional skills like communication and leadership. You dedicate yourself to life-long earning to remain technically current, and you must develop the professional skills needed for the 21st century. Now is the time to dedicate yourself to becoming the person you want to be!
But, change won’t just happen. You need a plan.
First, establish goals. You need both professional and personal goals. Without an idea of where you are going, how will you know what to do? You need to set at least two types of goals:
Long Range Goals
• These help you get where you want to be five years after graduation. They may deal with the type of work you want to do, where you want to live, how much money you want to make, and so on.
• These should be your goals–not somebody else’s idea or dependent on what someone else does. Be realistic. Do you want it enough to work hard and sacrifice other things?
• Long Range Goals Worksheet
Short Range (Annual) Goals
• These are specific and action-oriented. Know your annual goals when each school year begins. Again, these are yours alone; make them realistic given your schedule and desire.
• Include both curricular and extracurricular goals.
• Write your goals and refer to them throughout the year.
• Annual Goals Worksheet
Then, decide what needs to be done. This involves using your imagination to form a mental image of the future. It also involves asking questions, such as: Where am I right now? Where do I want to go? What do I have to do in order to get there?
You don’t have to know all the answers right away, but you do need to go far enough in the process to determine what to do next.
• Evaluate where you are today. Take stock of your present resources and abilities.
• How much have you already accomplished toward achieving a goal?
Make a list.
• Write down everything you can think of that must be done to achieve each goal.
Decide what to do next.
• Consider things you are already good at, but also reach beyond the comfort zone to develop the weakest link.
• Do specific things you enter into with a purpose.
• Be careful not to try too many things, such that quality slips in other areas.
Have a plan.
• The next three pages lay out a format you can use to make plans. Don't be afraid to share this with your advisor or another faculty member.
• Refer to your written plan and mark it somehow when you complete a step. It feels great to accomplish steps toward a goal you have set!