Successful Goal Setting for Today's College Students


  • Author Reed Markham
  • Published December 2, 2018
  • Word count 812

Walt Disney said: "The way to get started is to quick talking and begin doing." One important way a college student can begin doing is to set aside time for goal setting. I recently heard from a student that was in one of my communication classes. I was excited to hear that this student, who was goal oriented and determined achieved his education dream. He completed his associate's degree and was planning to complete a bachelor;'s and graduate degrees. The success in today's college students can be seen by looking at more than dreams and aspirations, but the goals that they set for themselves. The failure to persist in college is partially due to a lack of goal-setting habits.

Review your goals at the beginning of each semester. College students should take advantage of the opportunity to review their goals at the beginning of each new semester. Students should review both short and long-term goals. A student may have a short-term goal to increase their grades they receive in their classes. A long- term goal might be to review progress toward the completion of an associates or bachelor's degree.

Write down your goals. Those familiar with goal-setting recognize that a goal not written is only a wish. Our minds are constantly forgetting information. Within six to eight months of graduation from college a student will forget up to eighty percent of what they heard in classroom lectures. Students who set mental goals may soon forget them. It only takes a few minutes to sit down with your laptop and jot down some short and long-term goals. Set an appointment in the future to review the goals. The beginning of a semester is an ideal time to review goals, but goals can be reviewed at anytime.

There are several benefits to setting goals for success in college. A goal is a GPS to where you want to go with your current college classes and your entire college experience. By reviewing your goals you can brainstorm the best approaches to reaching them. The best evaluation of goals is measure your progress toward their completion. And many goal setters create a reward for the accomplishment of their goals.

Make a list of your daily goals. Many students make a daily list of things they need to accomplish by the end of the day. Unfortunately, we tend to gravitate to the items on the "to do" list that are easiest to accomplish. You can't say 'yes' to the important goals until you say 'no' to the unimportant ones. I remember a student who listed two items on his "to do" list, eating lunch and also completing a persuasive speech assignment. It is not surprising that the student made sure he was fed first.

Brainstorming is an important part of the goal setting process. Goal setting begins with brainstorming a list of both small and long-term goals. This is followed by prioritizing your goals. The most important short-term goals are those items that require immediate attention. The student mentioned earlier would experience more success in college by giving the speech assignment a higher priority than eating. This may be difficult for some students because they dread making a presentation. But procrastination only creates more problems for the student. Delaying the preparation of a speech may lead to very little time to rehearse. Without rehearsal time the student will feel more nervous on the day the speech in presented.

Successful goal setting also includes managing your time. As you set a goal, think about how long it will take to complete it. Short-term goals can be made weekly or biweekly while long-term goals might focus on projects and activities that make take a year or more to complete.

Successful goals setter are aware of tried and tested strategies. As you work on your goals keep in mind the following strategies:

*Prioritize your goals based on your current course schedule.

*Make sure your goals include important time set aside for tutoring or group work

*Don't forget to write down your goals

*Remember PMA- have a positive mental attitude toward your goals and your ability to complete then.

*Avoid general or ambiguous goals. Be specific with what you want to accomplish.

*Visibility is important in the goal setting process. Don't hide your goals in your dresser drawer. The best place to put your goals is where you can see them-the best place for many students is on the refrigerator.

*There is an old cliché that says "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Earl Nightingale, a famous radio personality in the 20th century said: "Goal setting is the most powerful force on earth to a serious minded person. It will bring us whatever we set our hearts upon... When we set serious and meaningful goals, we start in motion powers greater than we might at first imagine."

Reed Markham, Associate Professor, Daytona State College

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