The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Lessons Learned: The Changing Nature of Goals


Every college student probably has a rough set of goals they want to achieve when they enroll at school. Whether it be obtaining a certain degree, studying a certain field, or achieving some other accomplishment, mostly everyone has some broad idea of what they’re trying to achieve in college. However, your goals from the start of college may vastly change throughout your experience here, which I find is honestly one of the best things about college.

I’ve found that there's no real straight line between yourself and your college goals. There are most certainly bumps and unforeseen challenges along the way. And sometimes these challenges will take you on a bit of a detour from your planned goals.

I originally enrolled at UMass as a civil engineering major and shortly realized I wouldn’t be happy pursuing this as my career. My lack of pure interest in the field drove me away from it, leaving a sense of uncertainty in my mind as to what I was going to do for my career. I ultimately decided to switch career fields completely, now majoring in operations and information management with a minor in political science and economics, which I am much happier pursuing.

I guess one of the best things about college is that you’ll probably learn as much about yourself as you learn in the classroom. I definitely still don’t have it all figured out, and maybe I never will. But college is intended as a stepping stone into real life and meant to challenge your mind to a further level. Figuring out what your goals are in itself should be a goal in college, because I think enrolling as a naive 18-year-old can provide a false sense of cognition that can only be achieved by actually experiencing college.

College is your experience to mold the way you want to experience it. Whether you follow the goals set out for yourself when you first enroll here or not, I learned sacrificing my own happiness to reach my goals was not worth it, and instead altered my point of view to fix it. It’s important to recognize that there should be flexibility in this process.

Currently, I’m lucky to only be a junior, so I still have a couple of more years at school. But college is the last big chance to test the waters and your interests before you set out on the uncertainty that is real life. I’d encourage any college student to explore their interests as much as possible during your time here because it’s one of your last real shots to figure out what inspires you and what goals you really want to achieve.