Smart Goals for Students: How Setting School Year Goals Can Help You Succeed

 Smart Goals for Students: How Setting School Year Goals Can Help You Succeed

 Smart Goals for Students: How Setting School Year Goals Can Help You Succeed

Do you want to improve your grades this year? Are you trying to develop better study habits so you can end the cycle of procrastination (and the stress that comes with it)? Or maybe you’re hoping to make your school’s soccer team for the first time?

These are all great examples of school year goals that can help you get everything out of the current school year that you want to. However, simply having a vague idea in your head isn’t enough to help you actually achieve your goals! 

In this blog, we’ll cover both why setting solid goals is important to your success, as well as a method of setting goals that will make it easier for you to identify your goals as a student.

Why is goal-setting important for students? 

Setting school year goals will not only help you identify what you want to get out of the school year, but it can also help you break down the steps you need to take in order to accomplish those goals.

From there, you can figure out how long it will take you to accomplish each step, and schedule everything out in your planner in advance so that you stay on track all year long. In fact, taking the time to write your goals down (whether in a physical or digital planner) makes you 33% more likely to achieve them!

Let’s go over SMART goals, which are a particularly effective way to frame your goals.

Using SMART Goals to Stay on Track

One of my favorite ways to tackle clear goal-setting is with SMART goals. What are SMART goals, you ask? Well, SMART is an acronym describing goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Using this acronym will help you plan actionable steps to get to where you want to be within a certain amount of time. It eliminates broad goals like “I want to succeed in high school” and replaces them with detailed goals that are easily tracked and measured. For example, “I want to succeed in high school,” might become “I got a C in math on my first report card, but I want to bring my grade up to a B by the end of the first semester.”

Next, we’ll break down each letter in the SMART acronym and provide examples to help you write down your own goals!

SMART Goals for Students 

S = Specific

When you have a specific goal, you know exactly what you want to accomplish. It also usually gives you a better grasp on why a certain goal is important to you, which can be the make-it-or-break-it difference between staying on track or wandering off your path. 

Specific goals can also help you stay motivated because they’ll make it easier to break down the steps you need to achieve your goal, and knowing how much work you’ll need to do in advance can keep you from getting discouraged.

Now, let’s go back to the very first question in this blog: Do you want to improve your grades this year?  While I’m sure the answer is yes, wanting to improve your grades is far too broad to be effective. 

Instead, take a look at where your grades were last year, and determine a specific grade you want to earn this year.

M = Measurable

When your goal is measurable, it’s easy to see whether you’re getting closer to or farther away from your goal. Using our previous example, just saying you want to be a better student isn’t a measurable goal because there’s no clear end-goal in sight.

Instead, once you’ve looked over your grades from last year, you can use that information to measure your starting point and pick an end goal. For example, if your average math test score for last semester was an 85, your goal this semester might be to achieve an A-average. You’ll easily be able to see if you’re getting closer to your goal as your average starts creeping closer to 90. And if it gets close to the end of the semester and you’re still struggling, you can adjust by getting extra help as needed.

A = Attainable

Personally, I think the “A” is the most important letter in the whole SMART acronym! As a highly-motivated student, I was once notorious for setting goals that were just completely unrealistic, such as wanting to be fluent in Spanish in one semester. Shockingly, I didn’t achieve that goal … and I caused myself a whole lot of extra grief in the meantime.

Setting attainable goals simply means that it’s possible to achieve your goals in the time set! Even a polyglot would fail to learn a whole new language in a few months, so there was no way someone who’d never taken a day of a foreign language was going to master one in just a few short months. A more realistic goal would have been to learn thirty new words a week by studying Spanish for twenty minutes three times a week.

While it’s tempting to set big goals when you have lofty ambitions, setting SMART goals can help you celebrate the small wins … and that will help you manage your stress as a successful student.

R = Relevant

Choosing a relevant goal just means that your current goal fits in with your broader, long-term goals. For example, if your long-term goal is to get into college, setting a goal to reach and maintain a certain GPA is relevant to your bigger, more long-term goal of getting into college. 

Working backwards from your long-term goals can help you come up with relevant short-term goals. For example, if your dream is to go to the University of Virginia, then you’ll need to make sure your grades are good enough to get in. So, if you’re currently getting a B in a subject you need to get an A in, a relevant SMART goal for this semester would be to work on bringing your grade up that one grade.

T = Time-bound

Finally, SMART goals must have a deadline. It’s far too easy to procrastinate and put a goal off until later if you don’t give yourself a hard due date that’s written down.  Setting timely goals helps you learn to prioritize what’s really important to you, and that skill will serve you well for the rest of your life. 

Without a sense of urgency, it’s too easy to get distracted by less important tasks (or video games and Tiktok) and lose momentum. Using time-bound goals will encourage you to break your goals down into bite-size chunks, and then create a schedule to help you stay on track.

However, student goals do tend to have natural deadlines of the end of the semester or school year, and those can be a great place to start for students new to goal-setting.

Final Thoughts on School Year Goals

If you made it this far, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful student this year! Taking the initiative to set SMART goals at the beginning of the year will help you stay on track and achieve everything you set your mind to.

Once you’ve set your goals, don’t forget to write them down, preferably in your planner where you can see them regularly. Still looking for a great planner that works across your various devices? Sign up for My Study Life and never lose track of your goals again!

About UPchieve:
UPchieve offers 100% free online tutoring and college counseling for low-income students throughout the United States. With support from powerful companies like Capital One, Verizon, AT&T, and Goldman Sachs, our goal is to provide free tutoring to all 8 million low-income students in the U.S. by 2030. Connect with a tutor in as little as five minutes, and get the homework help you need at cost to you … ever!
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