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UpdatedEffective Goal-Setting Tactics: How Students Can Set SMART Goals

Mar 21, 2018   |   Success Tips
How Students Can Set SMART Goals

Goal setting is necessary in any facet of life, but it’s especially vital throughout your time as a student. In order to hold yourself accountable, it helps to refine your personal and educational objectives, find focus among the many distractions, and track your progress along the way. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can help you do all of those things and more—read on to find out how.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  • Specific: Know exactly what you need to accomplish and what you hope to gain from doing so. Whether it’s finishing a particular paper or project by a certain date, allocating an hour to exercise, setting a definitive time block for additional research or your alarm for certain time – keep it simple, clear-cut and concise.
  • Measureable: Make sure you can easily evaluate whether or not your goal was met, and how beneficial it was to you. Sometimes it helps to write out all of the tasks that lead to the end goal – and cross them off along the way. This holds yourself accountable and allows you to actually visualize your progress.
  • Achievable: Be realistic and specific when setting goals, and make sure it’s possible to attain the goals you set. Set goals that motivate you—if they hold importance, then there is value in achieving them. If you set goals that you have no hope in achieving, it could potentially bring you down, or erode your confidence. Take it one day – and one goal – at a time.
  • Results-Focused: Create clear, distinct outcomes for meeting your goals, in order to hold yourself to them. Short-term rewards are a good way to acknowledge your small successes and hard work. Whether it’s an added hour of rest, a snack, or a quick walk around the block, rewards can be tangible or intangible—but make sure they’re relevant to the task at hand. How have you rewarded yourself lately?
  • Time-Bound: Set a deadline for each goal, or for more complex tasks with multiple steps – establish deadlines for each major stage of the process. Deadlines increase urgency and will remind you when it’s time to celebrate your successes!

S.M.A.R.T. goals help you stay in touch with your initial goals by keeping them visible, traceable, and actionable. Here are some other suggestions for student S.M.A.R.T. goals that will keep pushing you forward:

  1. Participate Regularly
    Find something you’re interested in, and show up. Log onto the Virtual Campus regularly, take good notes, and ask questions on the Discussion Board; do the required readings and discuss further. Participation is one of the ground rules for success and obtaining your goals.
  2. Stay Organized
    Plan ahead, and alleviate stress ahead of time by setting aside specific time blocks for studying week-by-week. Create task lists written in a positive tone to keep yourself motivated, use note apps to help classify school documents, and establish a digital file/folder system on the platform of your choice, so you can find projects easily in a timely manner.
  3. Get to Know Your Instructors
    Reach out to each instructor every session. Even if you don’t think you need any additional help with the class at the moment, introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. Whether it’s via email or even over the phone—it can be a great way to get to know someone who may be a viable resource for you down the road. It also helps to have additional support on-hand during the more difficult periods of student life, such as creating individual projects or papers, or as you’re approaching graduation.
  4. Take Advantage of Career Services Resources
    In today’s competitive job market, it’s imperative to over-prepare, stay persistent, and tap into all of your available resources—including the Career Services team. They are a resource available to all CTU students and alumni, and can offer advice, guidance, and direction to students and graduates throughout their journeys. Whether you’re just starting your career search, looking to advance a present path, or preparing for a change—regular meetings with your designated career coach can help determine the next best steps for your career journey.
  5. Expand Your Horizons—And Your Network
    As a student, you made a conscious choice to further your education, and seek out new experiences and connections. Join an organization to build your network and get to know other students in your degree program. Include your family in your student experience, and don’t be afraid to ask for their support.

Above all things, surround yourself with affirmative, influential people, and take it all in. Know that your student experience is setting a positive example for all of those around you. Smart goal setting can make the pathway to graduation a little less chaotic and confusing – and all the more enjoyable.

Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee employment or salary. Find employment rates, financial obligations and other disclosures at

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