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What are SMART Goals for Students | Read now!6 min read

December 21, 2019 5 min read


What are SMART Goals for Students | Read now!6 min read

Read­ing Time: 5 min­utes

We all have dif­fer­ent fields in life where we would like to grow, be it get­ting a bet­ter job, improv­ing our health or fin­ish­ing col­lege. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most of us get thrown off course when we try to build a pro­fes­sion­al as well as per­son­al growth plan. As a stu­dent, it is impor­tant to set SMART goals and pri­or­i­tize them. It is nat­ur­al to think of our future as a sur­plus of vague dreams. How­ev­er, this is not effec­tive for your per­son­al devel­op­ment. This is why set­ting SMART Goals for stu­dents is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed.

Apart from this, smart goals help you keep track of your achieve­ments. More­over, as a stu­dent, you can allo­cate your pre­cious time and resources effi­cient­ly.

Many stu­dents aim to get a lot done but actu­al­ly accom­plish very less. Col­lege stu­dents fail to under­stand that they must pic­ture their future in the form of con­crete goals. Under­stand­ing how to set SMART goals ear­ly in life will enable them to use their time and resources pro­duc­tive­ly.

What Are SMART Goals for Students?

From an aca­d­e­m­ic point of view, stu­dents can improve their per­for­mance by being account­able for their fail­ure & suc­cess. In fact, stu­dents expect to have a feel­ing of suc­cess and con­fi­dence for enhanced pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Smart goals help achieve this feel­ing as stu­dents have a clear pic­ture of their des­ti­na­tion.

Time man­age­ment is an essen­tial ingre­di­ent to achieve suc­cess in life.  Click here to read more about time man­age­ment tips here!

smart goals for students

The smart in SMART goals is actu­al­ly an acronym. It stands for, Spe­cif­ic, Mea­sur­able, Attain­able, Rel­e­vant, and Time-Based. Let’s under­stand what they mean indi­vid­u­al­ly:

1. Specific

Spe­cif­ic goals define clear­ly what needs to be achieved in order for the goal to be accom­plished. The more clear­ly you define a goal, the less there is a chance for any mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of it. Be it fin­ish­ing a paper, com­pos­ing a per­son­al state­ment for an intern­ship or com­plet­ing research for a larg­er project, the more spe­cif­ic you get, the bet­ter will be your long term results.

A few exam­ples of Spe­cif­ic goals for stu­dents are:

a) Write a research paper for the con­fer­ence.

b) Write more papers.

In this case, (a) is con­sid­ered to be a SMART goal because it clear­ly spec­i­fies the goals in terms of what needs to be done to accom­plish it. Where­as (b) does not spec­i­fy any details. Mere­ly writ­ing more papers can not define what you plan to achieve but writ­ing research papers for a con­fer­ence is more spe­cif­ic.

2. Measurable

Mea­sur­able goals deter­mine to quan­ti­fy the para­me­ter which needs to be ful­filled in order to accom­plish your goals. So to put this into per­spec­tive, eat­ing healthy is not a mea­sur­able goal, but eat­ing greens twice a day is.

For exam­ple,

a) Fin­ish read­ing 12 books this year.

b) Read more books.

In this case, (a) is con­sid­ered to be a SMART goal because it quan­ti­fies the goal. Where­as (b) is not mea­sur­able at all.

3. Attainable

Set­ting attain­able goals means set­ting goals that are real­is­tic in nature. Attain­able goals uti­lize your abil­i­ties and at the same time, are pos­si­ble to accom­plish. So to set attain­able goals, con­sid­er the avail­abil­i­ty of resources, knowl­edge as well as time and decide which goals are real­is­tic and plau­si­ble.

For exam­ple,

a) Cycle 6km between home and cam­pus every day

b) Walk 50km every day

In this case, (a) is an attain­able goal because cycling 6km every day is achiev­able. But (b) is a high­ly unre­al­is­tic goal because walk­ing 50km every sin­gle day is not pos­si­ble.

4. Relevant

Goals need to be rel­e­vant to ensure they help you in achiev­ing your ulti­mate goal. In sim­ple words, your goals should be rel­e­vant to what you are aim­ing for in the big­ger pic­ture. Even if a goal might seem ben­e­fi­cial, if the tim­ing is not right, achiev­ing it will add no ben­e­fit to your over­all growth.

For exam­ple, stu­dents might go to col­lege with goals in mind that are influ­enced by their par­ents, not their own deci­sion. That often results in them lack­ing the moti­va­tion to take the required steps for­ward. Instead, rel­e­vant goals will be if they took the time to fig­ure out goals that felt per­son­al­ly applic­a­ble to them.

5. Time-Based

Time-Based goals spec­i­fy the time frame with­in which the goal needs to be accom­plished. This not only moti­vates a per­son to work hard­er and meet the dead­line, but also achieves the over­all goal faster.

For exam­ple,

a) Fin­ish writ­ing 10 papers in 4 weeks.

b) Write more papers.

In this case, (a) is a SMART goal because it spec­i­fies the time frame and puts a dead­line for meet­ing the tar­get. Where­as, (b) is nei­ther defined nor time-based.

How To Set SMART Goals?

Despite its effi­cien­cy, imple­ment­ing SMART goals is one of the least used strate­gies by stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als. This is main­ly because most peo­ple are not aware of how to set SMART goals. As a stu­dent, learn­ing how to set SMART goals dur­ing each term will help you in stay­ing on top of your game and make the most of your edu­ca­tion.

Here are a few tips relat­ed to smart goals for stu­dents.

1. Set a Goal for Grades in Each Class

It goes with­out say­ing that stu­dents want to strive to do their best in every class. How­ev­er, there are a num­ber of fac­tors that may impact how they per­form in each course. Tak­ing into account the sub­ject and the lev­el of the class, set a SMART goal for a grade you think you will earn for sure if you work hard. Then, spend a rea­son­able amount of time achiev­ing this goal.

2. Create A Schedule — part of SMART Goals strategy

Once you have fig­ured out how to set SMART goals, it is easy to start work­ing on them. How­ev­er, stay­ing on track is much hard­er than it appears to be. It is quite com­mon for stu­dents to lose their focus and find them­selves less involved in their stud­ies.

To avoid such sit­u­a­tions, it is bet­ter to cre­ate a sched­ule and ensure you fol­low it. A sched­ule will define your goals and tar­gets clear­ly. Hence, you are less like­ly to lose focus.

3. Regular Check-Ins: a SMART Goals example

Goals can­not be achieved overnight. It will take time to cross that fin­ish line. And for that, the goals have to be worked on reg­u­lar­ly and con­sis­tent­ly.

This is the rea­son reg­u­lar check-ins need to be estab­lished. It will ensure you are on track and mak­ing progress in a steady man­ner.

4. Celebrate Small Wins

Last­ly, no mat­ter how small your achieve­ments might be, learn to cel­e­brate! It is nor­mal to cel­e­brate only when the main goal is accom­plished. But acknowl­edg­ing small­er wins will encour­age you to work hard­er.

And also it will ensure you are going in the right direc­tion. In sim­ple words, it keeps your moti­va­tion lev­els high.

So the next time your brain won­ders how to set SMART goals, just remem­ber that set­ting SMART goals is not that dif­fi­cult. All you need to do is fol­low one step at a time, fill­ing out one let­ter of the acronym after the oth­er. Do not put your­self under the pres­sure of get­ting it right at the very first attempt. Try until you fig­ure out what works best for your sit­u­a­tion.

Read also about team­work skills. In addi­tion to set­ting up smart goals in life, stu­dents must focus on work­ing in teams to fos­ter top lead­er­ship qual­i­ties which is essen­tial for over­all growth and suc­cess.

Washija is a versatile writer. She has a passion for content creation and is an avid reader.