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Set and Achieve College Goals – 5 Goal Setting Tips for Students

To set and achieve college goals, you need to go beyond “I want to get good grades”! These goal setting tips for college students will increase success, satisfaction, and smiles. 🙂

Before the tips, a quip:

“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible – and achieve it, generation after generation.” ~ Pearl S. Buck.

You’re young enough to set wildly improbably goals…and smart enough to successfully achieve them! If getting good grades is your academic goal, read How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less.

And, here are five steps to getting what you want out of college…

Set and Achieve College Goals – 5 Goal Setting Tips for Students

1. Learn why you fail to achieve your goals. If you’ve failed to set and achieve college goals, look at what holds you back. For instance, my university roommate never started assignments until a day or two before they were due, and she wouldn’t study for tests until the night before. Her grades were fine (she’s a genius) – but she was so unhappy! She would agonize about procrastinating, and berate herself for not being more organized. She talked to a school counselor, who helped her realize she was procrastinating because she wanted perfect grades. If she didn’t get perfect grades, then she could chalk it up to procrastinating…not her intellect or personal ability. If you’re a student setting goals and preparing for college, you need to examine your fears, doubts, and insecurities.

2. Set goals that represent who you are. Do your parents want you to get your MBA, but you want a degree in Philosophy? Do your friends want you to join a sorority or fraternity, but you’d rather participate in the geeky geometry club? Don’t set college goals that you don’t care about – you may achieve them, but you’ll be bored and exhausted. Set goals that represent who you are as a college student…and who you want to become in five years.

3. Set goals that maximize your strengths.  Setting and achieving college goals is about maximizing your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses. Are you good at studying in groups, or would you rather study alone? Are you a morning bird or a night owl? Do you need six hours of sleep, or ten? The most successful college students are those who use their natural strengths and abilities to get what they want. They don’t change who they are; they make who they are work for them.

4. Put your time in. No matter what college goals you have, you have to work at it. For instance, Bill Gates programmed computers at university for 10,000 hours before he started his own company. Gates is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in recent history (perhaps of all time) — but he spent 10,000 hours practicing before he took the leap. That’s 416 days of working around the clock! This tip for achieving school goals is from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success, and it involves being deliberate and strategic.

5. Create a daily and weekly schedule that takes you in the direction of your goals. “Habits and rituals can be powerful tools that help us squeeze the most from the day and close the gap, but only if we consciously create them,” writes Robert Pagliariani in The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose. “When we Habitualize, we dump our negative and mediocre habits and replace them with positive habits and rituals that enrich our lives and bring us closer to our goals.”

A vital tip for setting and achieving college goals is to create a daily and weekly schedule. Yes, college students have class schedules – but I’m talking about the blocks of time between classes. Set specific times for Facebook, Tweeting, and IMing. Set specific times for studying, exercising, and sleeping. Set specific times for working and socializing. The more structured and organized you are, the more successful you’ll be at college…and beeee-yond!!!

Need more goal setting tips? Read How to Set New Goals When Your Old Goals Aren’t Working.

Questions or comments about setting and achieving goals for college students? Dive in below!

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2 thoughts on “Set and Achieve College Goals – 5 Goal Setting Tips for Students”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks, Alex!

    Yes, I agree that knowing why you didn’t achieve your past goals can help you achieve your current and future goals. It’s hard to be objective about why we didn’t achieve our goals, but it’s important…especially for college students who want to succeed.

  2. Great post.

    I especially appreciate the first point you made about understanding why goal-setters fail in the past. Being objective and actually gaining a solid understanding of why we faltered in the past holds the potential for incredible change and opportunity in the future.

    Often times the best school in the world is trial-and-error.

    Alex Work