Josepha, a host at KHHT in Los Angeles, insisted that she often hears people say "ideals" when they mean "ideas."
An idea is a thought, a notion, or a concept. An ideal is a lofty aim when it's used as a noun and the rough equivalent of "excellent" or "perfect" when it's used as an adjective.
- I have an idea.
- He stuck to his ideals.
- She was an ideal student.