College life is completely new for students as compared to the protected one they are used to in school. It involves freedom, and a chance to see the world from close quarters. But the students are no longer shielded by a protective covering of school and parents, and the freedom brings a lot of responsibility with it. Students learn, often in a harsh way, that things do not necessarily go as they might have planed.
According to a study by W. Haley (cited in Upcraft and Kramer, 1995), students decide on their majors even before their classes begin and 12% expect to change it at some point of time. But 65%-85% actually change their plans for majoring. While 8% of undergrads expect to spend more than 4 years to complete their degrees, 60% end up taking more time. Further, while 2% expect to fail a course, 16% actually do; and while only 1% of students expect to drop out, 40% actually do drop out!
This trend clearly shows the lack of goal setting by college students. If you want to succeed in your college life and also after that, the direction your life takes, and the way you go about it should be clearly defined by your goals. While all of us have notions, of what we want to do, and where we want to be in life, these are clearly different from goals. Notions are only a rough idea about the way we feel. Goals are more specific and concise than notions. They clearly define what we want, in an accurate manner, so that we have a perfect vision and a direction. Thus, while every student has a notion that he/she wont drop out of college, a goal would be more like, 'I will complete college in four years'.
It has been seen that people who have set goals, committed to in writing, and being worked upon, are much more likely to achieve, than those who only have a notion about it. This is the power of goal setting- it makes us achieve what we want to, and thus makes us endeavor for it till it is finally achieved. This is because while the human brain is very good at processing huge amount of information, it needs direction so as to give importance and priorities to the various choices that are available to a person. This is what keeps a person from straying to do unnecessary things. However, still people find that they do many things that are not required, at least at the moment, or which can wait. To keep the mind focused on a particular achievement that is desired, it is important to have goals that will always ensure that the brain gives first priority to the actions resulting towards the fulfillment of those goals.
It is desirable to break down the goal into smaller sub-goals, which can be achieved one at a time. This will keep a person from being overwhelmed, especially by large goals that takes a longer period of time to achieve. This also keeps a person from straying away from the goal due to the goal seeming unattainable. A series of short-term goals ensure that the person remains on the track of achieving the long-term goal. Small, but continuous success with a series of short-term goals also acts as a motivation factor, which keeps a person going.
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