Academic Goals

It’s the start of the new semester, and consequently many students are thinking about the possibility of graduating from NOVA and transferring to BA programs across the state and region. One thing I like to get students to think about at this time of year is their academic goals because I find that many students really don’t have an academic goal!

Time and again, I hear students tell me that their goal is “to get my BA” … but hear me: “getting a degree” is NOT a goal. A degree is a step along the pathway to achieving a goal … but the goal is to do the thing you want to do, be the thing you want to be, when you finish school! A real goal is to be a teacher, or a doctor, or run your own business … these are examples of goals. A degree of itself is of no value if it is only being done TO do it.

So, to set an academic goal, I encourage students to think about their dreams, their interests, their desires: the thing that doing will give you joy and pleasure in life, something in which you can take pride for having lived well and good. Once you have identified this, then I encourage students to find the school that gives them the degree that allows them to START this dream, this job, this career. And students need to recall that a degree is not the end, it is the minimum qualification to begin doing the thing you want to do!

So, when you think about a goal, don’t think about a degree: think about what makes you happy and gives you joy… the goal of education should be to live a good life, nothing less than that is really worth the effort or the cost!