May 082005
Authors: Jennifer Johnson

The obstacles students may face both during and after college could make achieving goals difficult. Students should however keep their hopes high and follow their dreams no matter what may get in the way.

"Achieving a goal frequently involves a number of steps or milestones," said Ann Malen, Director of the Career Center. "Developing a plan with milestones that allows you to check your progress and feel successful at several stages during the process is important. If an impediment arises, you should focus on overcoming the obstacle rather than giving up the goal."

For students who may struggle with trying to overcome obstacles and feel like giving up, Malen urges them to utilize the resources on campus that are available for help.

"If the source of their frustration or anxiety is career related, then the Career Center can help students clarify their interests and skills," she said. "If a student is overcome with anxiety, the University Counseling Center is able to help with stress management and personal counseling."

The Career Center focuses on helping students examine their interests, skills and values while focusing on career paths that will be of interest to their personality and characteristics.

"The more consistent the students' career goals are with their interests and skills, the more likely they will stay on track," she said.

Although staying on track can be difficult for many students, Malen said it is important for them to remember what they want in life and go for it.

"People want different things out of life which is why we encourage students to consider their personal values as well as skills and interests in making career decisions," she said. "Many students think money is the main drive for choosing a career, but receiving a large paycheck for doing a job you hate is rarely a satisfying career choice."

Katherine Padilla, a graduate of CSU said finishing in four years was not easy.

"It was incredibly difficult for me to get everything done while trying to stay on the four year plan," she said. "I switched my major three times, but thankfully got all of the core classes out of the way first. I also took 18 credit hours one semester to catch up."

During her four years at CSU, Padilla worked for a company that helped her pay for school and also hired her for a full-time position once she graduated.

"I knew I wanted to work for the company after college," she said. "I guess you can say that was my goal and it's nice to know that I have achieved it."

Padilla said it is very important for students to follow what their head and their heart tell them to do.

"Going for what you want in life is the only way to accomplish things," she said. "I know it can be difficult to keep moving forward with all the other factors, but you should work towards your goals no matter what."

The Center for Advising and Student Achievement is another resource available to help students stay on track and pursue their goals.

"When we meet with students to discuss their goals we talk about a lot of things," said Linda Stoddard, an adviser at CASA. "It can be difficult for some students to stay on track and graduate within four years, so we work with students to help them balance their commitments and their course loads, as well as to use resources that can be helpful. It is also important for students to remember to prioritize, which may mean having to give up one thing in order to pursue another."

Stoddard helps students review a program of study for a major in which they are interested and helps them to develop a long-term plan. Some students, however, may struggle with finding a balance that works for them.

"It can be difficult for students who need to work many hours a week to do well with a fifteen credit load while at the same time participating in campus activities," she said. "We want the student to be involved in the university because it can build good skills and professional references during the experience."

The most important thing Stoddard said students should know is that the major they choose should be something they love to learn about.

"When a student looks at a check sheet for their major they should be excited about the courses and requirements," she said.

Stoddard also feels that students who blend experiential learning, such as internships and pre-professional work, with their major will be even more successful at achieving their life goals.

"Achieving one's life goals and aspirations is much more than choosing a particular major," she said.

While the journey to achieving ones goals may be frustrating at times, Padilla urges students not to give up.

"If you try your hardest then things will eventually fall into place," she said. "I believe that there is always a good ending to come."

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