Obtaining a college degree requires discipline, hard work and the ability to set short-term goals. Short-term goals are smaller tasks required to reach a big-picture dream. Breaking it down will help you manage what may seem to be an impossible feat. Begin by determining what you want to accomplish and move on to creating a daily task list. Understanding the daily steps required to lead you to graduation will help you experience success in college.
Make Confident Choices
One of the first short-term goals you should set in college is to determine the courses you’ll take. Each semester, analyze your degree requirements and select the courses that best fit your interests and needs. Your ultimate goal is the degree, but you’ll need to select courses that will help you accomplish this. An academic adviser can provide you with a course plan, but it will be up to you to register each semester for your classes. Register as early as possible and be sure to have a backup plan in case your course selections are unavailable.
Know Your Limits
Assess your current life dynamics and set short-term educational goals that match your personal situation. For example, if you need to work to afford college, you may need to take a lighter load during the semester so you can be well balanced and experience academic success. Similarly, if something during the semester changes, be ready to adjust your academic plan so you can accommodate your needs. For example, you might need to drop a class to provide time to take care of an ill family member. Similarly, if your classes are more demanding than you expected, dropping one might be your best choice. The ability to constantly evaluate potential barriers and adjust accordingly is key when setting short-term goals in college.
Acknowledge Your Weaknesses
Take time to evaluate your personal weaknesses and challenges. Use the results of this reflection to help set short-term goals that will help you obtain your degree. For example, if you want to be more organized, set a short-term goal to use a planner or calendar to chart your assignments and tests. Make a commitment to review your planner each night before going to bed so you are organized for the following day. If you want to meet more people in your major, set a short-term goal to join an academic student organization and attend a meeting each week during the semester. Making a commitment to strengthen your weaknesses will help you realize success.
Manage Your Time
Setting short-term goals for time management will help you accomplish daily tasks and assignments. Creating a daily to-do list is an example of a short-term goal. Evaluate what needs to be done each day and assign the task to a certain time slot. Include time to study, attend class, volunteer and relax. Be ready to flex your schedule if something unexpected arises. Applying short-term goal setting to your degree completion plan will help you move through your academic journey more efficiently.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.