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As a student, the best way to ensure a successful 2023 is to define and set your educational goals… but knowing how to set goals is just a part of it. First, it’s crucial to understand why goal setting is essential.
Next, you’ll need to decide the types of goals you should establish to realize success. Once you set your goals, you’ve taken the first step to achieve them.
In this article, you’ll find just what you need to make 2023 your year for setting your goals and working towards them. Ultimately, you’ll be setting yourself up for your best life.
What are Educational Goals?
When you think of educational goals, as a student, you probably think of what you’d like to accomplish as it relates to where you are in your educational journey.
If you’re early into college, you may or may not have finalized your career goals. Maybe you’re still seeking what career path you’ll choose.
On the other hand, if you’re in your senior year, chances are your goals are more apparent. After all, you’re nearing the end of your journey, about to get your degree in your chosen field. At this point, your educational goals may include a choice between gaining experience in your field and furthering your education via a Master's Degree or Doctorate.
Either way, these educational goals are declarations that refer to the abilities, skills, and qualities you intend to acquire once your academic journey or a part of your journey is complete.
Why Setting Educational Goals is Important
What makes setting educational goals important is where those goals can take you. Think of your future. If you don’t set a goal (or several) driving you to where you want to go, you may fall short or even stray onto another path.
Think about your normal daily activities. Are they bringing you closer or farther away from your goals? If you need a change in your life to reach your educational goals, learning how to set them is the key to your success.
Life isn’t easy. As you travel your educational journey, you’ll find obstacles in your path. And those obstacles may cause you to lose your way without clearly defined goals.
Focusing on a defined target will help you continue your commitment to progressing towards, and ultimately achieving your goals, even if someone tries to talk you out of them.
Goals not only motivate you, but may also ensure you stay the course when the going gets tough. Think of your goals as your map on the road to success. Or, think of a bull-s eye on a target as being your most important goal. If your aim is sure, you make it. If not, you still come close.
How to Set Educational Goals
You may have heard of SMART goals. They work! When setting educational goals for yourself, remember to be SMART. SMART is an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Specific goals are clear, defined, and easy to understand without ambiguity. Measurable means your goals are set so that you can track your progress toward them. Achievable goals are those that, while they may stretch you they are not unreachable. Relevant goals are realistic regarding your purpose, in this case, as they relate to your education. Time-bound means when you set the goal, it is not open-ended and ongoing; you need to have both a start and projected end date.
A well-written educational goal will give you a specific starting point and a defined destination. When you set your educational goals using the SMART method, you’ll set yourself up to find greater success.
Ways to find this success can include:
17 Educational Goal Examples
The following is a list of popular and useful educational goal examples. Not all of them will appeal to you, so search and find the ones that do.
Whichever path (or paths) you choose, you’ll find your goals are not only within sight… but also within reach. After each goal, we’ve included an action plan to help you get started.
1. Raise your GPA (grade point average).
As a student, you realize the value of having a good grade point average. It can help you become eligible to receive financial aid and get into the university of your choice. Raising your GPA can be an ambiguous goal unless you phrase it more specifically.
Action Plan: First, define and then write down the steps you need to take to raise your GPA. Understand what it is currently and what it will take to raise it. You may want to speak with your teachers or professors to gain insight into how you can raise your grades in each class.
2. Improve your test-taking skills.
Learning how to take tests effectively can take you a long way toward success in your educational journey. A good start is to learn how to set yourself up for successful test-taking.
Action Plan: Write down what you intend to do before and during tests, such as mentally preparing, including adequate study, and focusing on keywords in the test questions.
3. Take better notes.
This is a worthy goal to help you learn and do well on tests. Note-taking skills can carry you far toward academic success. The benefits are two-fold: taking notes in class enables you to remember what you’ve heard, and taking notes to review will give you a better comprehension of the material.
How are you taking notes today? Are you taking down everything the professor says? If so, it’s time to think about note-taking differently.
Action Plan: Define what you need to notate. Only take notes on the main points your professor makes. Listen for clues as to the notes you need to study; a professor may indicate if the material will be on a test. Also, underline or highlight the most essential points, and notate any references if you need to look up information regarding a subject.
4. Learn to control your emotions.
This is a goal that will serve you well on your educational journey and beyond. Having the ability to control your emotions can keep you from hurting others’ feelings or embarrassing yourself.
Action Plan: You may have heard the term “emotional intelligence.” The awareness of your emotions would be the first step toward learning to control them. Look at the impact of your feelings in the past. When you feel emotions rising, take a moment to think through the problem and determine the most appropriate action to take rather than letting your initial emotions dictate your actions. For more tips in learning to control your emotions read this article from Healthline.
5. Schedule time to read.
Readers are leaders, so it’s important to make sure you have time to read. Whether you plan to read fiction for entertainment or nonfiction in your educational field, spending time in books can help broaden your knowledge or enjoy your downtime. Finding it hard to find the time? Read our article with 15 tips to save time each day.
Action Plan: Set your alarm for a ½ hour earlier and read first thing in the morning. Be sure to have your reading materials nearby for easy access. Anytime you leave your house, be sure to carry a book with you. Get in the habit of reading on the bus, train, or subway.
6. Develop a positive outlook.
If you see the glass half full, as in viewing your circumstances in a positive light versus seeing the glass half empty, it will help you deal better with negative situations. You’ll experience more happiness and joy throughout your educational journey and throughout life.
Action Plan: An easy step is to begin surrounding yourself with positive people. Next, celebrate every small success. Be grateful for the small victories, like each quiz you pass, each time you walk into class on time, and each time you meet one of your goals. Finally, feed your mind with positive affirmations daily.
7. Exercise on schedule.
Working out, walking, and doing aerobic activities can reduce stress and anxiety, which is helpful as you navigate your educational journey. Exercise can also help you sleep better and boost your mood. Here's an article that can help you set your health goals.
Action Plan: Use a daily planner, either online or in hard copy, to schedule regular exercise. Then, stick to the schedule. Make it a priority as you would any appointment, knowing it is vital for both your physical and mental health as well as helping you meet your educational goals.
8. Eat healthy foods.
Controlling your appetite and choosing to eat a healthy diet will help you have more energy, optimal brain function, and a robust immune system. This can mean you’ll miss fewer days of class to sickness.
Action Plan: If possible, make most of your meals. Eat less fast food and pre-packaged foods. Plan your meals and snacks using a daily planner or app.
9. Attend every class.
You can essentially set yourself up for success when you’re well-armed with the knowledge you need to succeed. The best way to do that is to attend every class and be present “in the moment” to absorb that information.
Action Plan: Set an alarm daily to ensure you get up and out the door with plenty of time to make it to your class. Use a daily planner to keep up with your schedule, and be sure not to overbook yourself. Make attending classes a priority over other activities, no matter how tempting.
10. Stay in touch with close friends and family members.
Keeping in close contact with those that are closest to you can help you stay the path toward your educational goals when the going gets tough. Having a network of supportive friends and/or family members will help you stay on track.
Action Plan: Schedule calls each week. Send periodic emails and texts. Make time for video chats, especially on holidays and special occasions when you can’t be there in person.
11. Earn a degree or certification.
Your educational journey will more than likely culminate in a certificate or a degree from an institution or college. While it takes time, it is well worth earning the cert or diploma as it can help you acquire your dream job and live the life you’ve imagined.
Action Plan: Make a plan, setting a beginning and end date to meet your goal. Start small with incremental goals, making sure you pass your individual classes and stay on course. While you may need to adjust your journey on your way, never lose sight of the end goal. Making a dream board to keep your goals in view may be helpful.
12. Decrease screen time.
Limiting the time you’re focused on a screen for whatever reason can help you meet other goals, such as improving your sleep, decreasing headaches, and giving you the time and focus to tackle any obstacles or problems.
Action Plan: Intentionally limit the time you use screens, whether it’s your cell phone, tablet, computer, or television. Schedule your screen time so you can control it before it controls you.
13. Develop communication skills.
Setting a goal to increase your written and verbal communication skills can take you far in your educational and life goals. Honing your skills in interacting with others can help you become more likable and have fewer misunderstandings.
Clear communication ensures your success with your classmates and your workmates.
Action Plan: Practice your skills with others. You can do this by volunteering or working in customer service industries. Or you may find it helpful to join study groups or a Toastmasters club to learn how to speak in public and fill leadership roles.
14. Find a study buddy.
Some of the best reasons to find someone to share study time with are accountability in showing up, motivation to succeed and making learning enjoyable.
Action Plan: Ask fellow students to gauge their interest in partnering with you. You can have a study buddy from several classes or one dedicated buddy that keeps you motivated to put in study time together. Check out these 7 habits we've put together to help you and your study buddy develop your critical thinking skills.
15. Limit gaming.
In and of itself, it is not wrong to game until it interferes with the rest of your life, like going to class or creeping into study time. To reach your educational goals, keeping a handle on how many hours a week you spend gaming is crucial. It’s too easy to lose yourself in a game and spend hours that you did not intend to spend online.
Action Plan: For a week, log the hours you spend gaming. This will give you a reasonable frame of reference to begin setting limits. Next, figure out which blocks of time are crucial to meeting your educational goals and re-take that time. It may be helpful to block off time in a daily planner to make sure you stick to the limits you’ve set.
16. Improve memory.
This may be one of the most important gifts you can give yourself on your educational journey and throughout life. When you improve your memory, you’ll stay focused on tasks, become a more efficient learner, and optimize your study time.
Action Plan: Repetition can help when memorizing information before test time. Not just reading your material several times but reading it aloud can give you a better understanding of it and a better chance of retaining the information.
Group pieces of information together that relate to each other. Try using mnemonic devices, which are sentences that help you memorize a sequence of words. An excellent example of this is how music students memorize notes with a mnemonic device like “All Cows Eat Grass” to remember notes A, C, E, and G on the Bass Clef.
17. Submit class requirements on time.
While this may require some discipline, it will undoubtedly pay off. What is interesting about this goal is that you can create individual short-term goals out of it. For instance, when you write it down for yourself, try writing it like this: I will submit my weekly class requirements on time.
Action Plan: Get a daily planner and record your class requirements. When you complete one, check it off. Not only will this give you a sense of accomplishment, but it will also keep you on track and focused on your goal.
Final Thoughts on Educational Goals
The secret to one’s success in reaching their goals lies in beginning the process of setting those goals. An excellent way to start is to write them down. It makes them seem more real and tangible.
If you need help getting started, check out these printable SMART goal worksheets we've created to get those juices flowing and motivate you to push forward.
Once you have them on paper, you can prioritize them and make a plan on how to achieve them using the tools we’ve outlined here. And by using the educational goal examples in this article as inspiration, I’m confident you will be able to define your goals, and crush them!
And if you want more SMART goal ideas and examples for teachers, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 15 Teacher Professional Goals Examples
- 10 SMART Goals Examples for an IEP (Individualized Education Program)
- 11 SMART Goals Examples for Special Education Teachers
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.