For the past several years, I have had my freshmen business students create vision boards, and then in three to five minutes, present his or her vision board to the class.
The whole process takes three days of class time (spread over three weeks), but it is well worth it.
All I can say after having watched the presentations – the future of our world is in good hands.
The project serves many purposes from my perspective.
- First, and perhaps most importantly, it forces the students to think about their futures, perhaps more than they have ever done before.
- A second goal, and another critical one, is that the project enables the students to get to know each other on a more intimate level than a simple conversation would ever do. I think people are often hesitant to talk about what they would like to get out of life and what’s important to them. But they realize that everyone is in the same boat, and as a result are more than willing to share themselves and their goals with the class. An interesting outcome of this process is that some students may realize they have similar interests and goals, and such revelations could potentially lead to collaborations and friendships. Given the various restrictions on social gatherings across campus, it has been much more difficult this year for freshmen to get to know each other, and so this goal became even more important. Hopefully, this assignment along with a few team-based projects will enable a few connections to be formed.
- Third, it’s a chance for the students to work on their creativity. Finding just the right image or quote to express some future goal takes some time and effort. Once they have all of the raw material, then the next step is to put it all together into a vision board. I give the students the option of creating a vision board the classic way, using poster board and magazine photos, or using PowerPoint. This semester, most students chose PowerPoint. In fact, out of about 120 students, only four did not use PowerPoint (three created a PDF file, and one person used Pinterest). My guess is that this use of PowerPoint is very different from what they are used to, since it is so image-heavy, with little to few words. It gives them the opportunity to realize that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
- A fourth purpose is to give the students the opportunity to practice their public speaking. I try to provide useful feedback on issues such as voice projection, eye contact, enthusiasm level, body language, etc, This semester was a bit more challenging, since all the students had to wear a mask while presenting, as well as while listening to the other students’ presentations.
- A final goal, and this is sort of a combination of creating the vision board and then presenting it, is impressing upon them the power of publicly sharing their goals. By doing so, the students will first likely spend more time upfront thinking seriously about their life goals, and then once they share such goals with others, their commitment level to those goals becomes much stronger.
Here are some observations and highlights from this year’s vision boards:
- many students have a fairly clear idea, at least now, of what they would like to major in and what they would like to do after graduation. Among the students there seemed to be a lot of interest in working on Wall Street as well as in data analytics, a relatively new major at our school. At the same time, it seems there are just as many, if not more, students who have no idea what they want to study or do when they graduate.
- many of them mentioned wanting to get married and start a family.
- many noted how important it was to create new friendships while maintaining old ones, and how important their family is to them.
- many noted how important building their network will be.
- many recognize the importance of exercise and eating right.
- many students recognize the need to improve on their time management skills.
- many students note how important it will be to have a work/life balance.
- many students openly talked about how important their faith is to them.
- most, if not all, of the students, talk about how they want to give back, either through service trips while in college, or later in life. They talk about where they would like to live, and how they would like to be active in their community, their church, or coach their kids’ teams.
- many of the students talk about wanting to do a study abroad and to keep travel as an important part of their life as they get older.
- many students talk about wanting to make a difference, and many point out that they want to work for a company that is socially responsible.
- many students mentioned wanting to start their own business someday; popular options were in the foodservice industry. A handful of students have already started a small business.
- a few mentioned spending some time teaching.
- and many of them end their presentation by saying that their ultimate goal is simply to be happy, which is hard to argue with.
- And as a reward for reading this far, for the first time ever someone mentioned wanting to run for President. But then by the time all 120 students had presented, we actually had three students who mentioned this as a goal. As a side note, they were all male Caucasians…
After watching all of these vision board presentations, I came away rejuvenated, thinking about how great my job is since I get to interact with students who are so full of energy and excited about their future. I also recognize the opportunity and responsibility I have to be part of helping them achieve their goals in life. That’s part of my vision board…
Note: this is an update to a post about last year’s vision board week…