“The Interplay of Means and Goals: A Guide for Undergraduate Students”

By: Dr. Reyaz Ahmad

You undergraduate students are at the crossroads of many different journeys and destinations. Your college years should be used for more than just learning; they should also be used for goal setting and figuring out how to get there. It’s critical to recognize the difference between goals and means to successfully navigate this life-changing stage. As objectives, goals are what you want to achieve; they are like the places on a map, and methods are the daily trips that create the complex web of roads that connect those destinations.

Understanding Goals: Your Educational and Individual Journeys
Our objectives serve as the standards of success that we aim to meet. They are the motivation behind our behaviors; they are evident and frequently observable. Undergraduate students may have personal aspirations such as becoming a leader in the community or making a positive impact on society, in addition to academic objectives such as earning a degree.
Setting and achieving goals is essential because they give direction. For example, when you establish the goal of becoming a qualified engineer, you are indicating a particular outcome you hope to achieve. This clarity enables you to allocate your efforts wisely and assess your development impartially. 

Exploring means: Finding the Way to Your Dreams
The techniques, plans, and methods you use to accomplish your objectives are called means. They are the study sessions, internships, events that foster networking, and each tiny step you take in the direction of your ultimate goal. The means are flexible and changeable as you gain experience and expand your knowledge of the surrounding environment.
The methods for an undergraduate student are going to lectures, working on group projects, looking for a mentor, and participating in extracurricular activities to obtain relevant experience. While necessary to get there, these are not the objectives in and of themselves. 

The Essential Connection Between Goals and Means:
Goals and means are distinct, but they are also related. While using the proper methods is important to reach your objectives, success is not always ensured by them. External variables that may impact whether the means will successfully lead to the intended aim include changes in the employment market, personal situations, and economic adjustments.
For instance, after taking all the necessary steps to become an engineer—attending classes, passing tests, and finishing internships—a student may still struggle to obtain employment after graduation as a result of the current economic slump. Therefore, it’s critical to understand that, even if you have control over the means, external events can have an impact on your ability to attain your goals. 

Steer clear of the Equivalency Fallacy: It’s important to distinguish between achieving goals and finishing a means. You do not necessarily arrive at your objective just because you have traveled the journey. This is seen in academic settings when a student claims they should be awarded a degree based just on their coursework completion, even if they haven’t fulfilled all graduation requirements, such as passing all examinations.
In a similar vein, going through the motions in life does not mean that your life is in line with your goals and ideals. Living with meaning implies coordinating your everyday activities (the means) with your ultimate aspirations (the goals). It is not enough to just exist. 

What Undergraduate Students Should Know:
Setting clear objectives early on is crucial for undergraduates. Your decisions about extracurricular activities, internships, and majors will be influenced by your goals. Once your objectives are established, you may determine the methods required to reach them. This could entail choosing classes wisely, looking for work experience in the field, or developing a professional network.
Recall that there is a dynamic link between goals and means. Your goals may change as you develop and gain knowledge, and as a result, your means may also need to change. Learning involves being adaptable and ready to reevaluate your objectives and resources.

 Essentially, one of the most important life skills for undergraduate students is being able to distinguish between means and goals. Remember that means are the actions you take to arrive at a destination, whereas objectives provide you with a destination to aim for as you progress through your academic career and beyond. Accept the journey with awareness and purpose, realizing that although the means are important, the end is not the means. Establish specific objectives, follow them tenaciously, and be ready to deal with any unforeseen detours that may arise. This knowledge will support you not only in your academic endeavors but also in leading a happy and meaningful life.

The author is a Faculty of Mathematics,Department of General Education SUC, Sharjah, UAE

Email: [email protected]

WhatsApp No.: 00971542454219


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