High school students should set goals, but if they don't have a plan, they are unlikely to succeed. To achieve your objectives, your goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. -- specific, manageable, attainable, realistic and timely. Use these elements to come up with a concrete action plan for meeting your objectives. You can use S.M.A.R.T. goals to move forward in school, in your social groups and in extra curricular activities.

Better Grades

Not every academic subject comes naturally to every student. Some may experience lack of motivation or performance anxiety related to specific classes. A S.M.A.R.T. goal for a student who wants to improve his English grade might be, "I will get an A on my next English paper by making sure I understand the assignment, letting my teacher read my draft and completing three revisions before the due date." This is a solid goal that presents clear, manageable steps for meeting a measurable objective in a specific time frame.


Getting good grades is an admirable goal, but if it takes you forever to find your history notes and your locker is a bottomless pit, the objective will be hard to meet. A goal related to staying organized might state, "I will set up a binder with folders for each class by the end of the first week of school and clean my binder and locker once a week for the rest of the school year." This goal sets a specific initial time frame for making organization a priority and then states how you will maintain organization once the initial goal is acheived.

Social Relationships

According to the high school goal-setting guide "Roads to Success," a well-grounded social community helps students commit to their education. However, many students are too shy or insecure to talk to new people. A socially-oriented S.M.A.R.T. goal might read, "I will join at least one club by the end of the first month of school and get to know at least one new person a week for the rest of the year." This goal opens up two specific avenues to come out of your shell at different times during the year.

Extracurricular Goals

For many high school students, extracurricular activities like band, drama and sports take just as much commitment as academic achievement. Many of these groups involve performance-based competitions where students demonstrate special skills and talents. A S.M.A.R.T. goal in this category might read, "I will qualify for this year's state speech and debate tournament by attending every weekend tournament this season, practicing my speech for 30 minutes a night, and learning from feedback I get from judges." This goal sets out a clear action plan that can be sustained throughout the speech and debate season.

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