Goal Setting for Academic Success

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November 2010 Goal Setting for Academic Success Goals are like road maps; they get a person from one point to another. Goals provide the direction one needs to reach a destination. The best way to get results is to plan for the future, but live one day at a time.

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Think about the future; how does one define success? What makes one happy? What drives a person? What makes a person get out of bed in the morning? Does success mean family, money, security, helping others, improving the environment, solving problems, a career, or a degree?

Whatever a student decides, the key to academic success is to strengthen one’s will to succeed and to do this one must set academic goals. The first step in setting an academic goal is to define an attainable, relevant goal. A student must ask himself about his own core values, what motivates the student, where does the student want to be tomorrow, next week or even a few years? What does the student want to do? Be very specific with academic plans. If a student’s desires are specific, goals will be specific. Never ask the questions, “What if”, or “What would happen if”.

Make the questions a positive affirmation of what the student will do. While developing a relevant goal, make sure to also ask if what is desired is attainable. After some thought write out a clear description of a goal (Carter et al. 100). The second step in academic goal setting is to defining a specific path. The student must think about what the most important goal is, and what is the first thing to do to start towards that goal? Then plan backwards in time and outline. Start by creating a rough outline or some type of map that includes specific steps in regard to the academic goal.

The beginning of the student’s road map is this map being personalized just for the student. Outline specifically the steps towards goals, keeping in mind behaviors and life events that are under one’s control. In this outline define a specific educational path; most importantly begin creating new rules for life especially giving thought to what one will do with events and behaviors that cannot be controlled (Carter et al. 100). Once the student has the big picture in mind, the third step in goal setting is setting a time table.

Ask when do you want to have a goal complete, being realistic in regard to the goal and the time that will be involved to accomplish it. Think about deadlines for the steps defined in the plan of action. Finally, begin keeping track of progress perhaps by blogging or writing in a notebook to keep track of progress towards reaching the goal. Think of short -term goals towards academic achievement ranging from daily to weekly, even monthly or as far up to one-year. Long term goals can be set up to take 5 years to accomplish.

Make sure to set deadlines for each step in a plan and keep track of those (Carter et al. 100). The fourth step in academic goal setting is for the student to measure them self. The student should be learning more at this point and what makes them tick. The student needs to keep a written record of progress and set backs as well as finding a confidant to talk to; someone the student can count on to help keep them on track (Carter et al. 100). The fifth and one of the most important steps is not getting “stuck” If a bump in the road to academic goals get in the way, the student shouldn’t panic!

The student needs to be aware that staying on track with a specific academic or any other personal goal can be rocky and may place un needed stress on them. The student should try to anticipate problems and think of ways to make changes to the plan of action if they run into trouble. If the student gets stuck, now is the time to reach out to family, trusted friends, school counselors and maybe even instructors for support. Plans aren’t always etched in stone and it’s important that the student understands that plans can be altered, they should never give up (Carter et al. 00). Step six in achieving an academic goal is the most exciting part; putting the student’s goal achievement plan into action, following the steps and trying not to sway from them. By conditioning, the student will be able to follow this map created as if life depends on it because in a way it does. This is the student’s future and they should take it very seriously (Carter et al. 100). Putting academic strategies into action is to achieve a desired goal. Prepare daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly; action plans are your set of directions to achieve academic goals.

Things to remember to include in a plan of action is time management, which would include how much time is spent studying everyday; where the student will study, who the student will study with, and how the student will avoid distractions. Keeping assignments and important dates organized in a planner is very important. The student will then be able to refer to it on a daily. A student must also take into consideration negativity and how to avoid it, assuring that the short term goals are being met successfully.

The student should be encouraged even if they don’t succeed at first to try again. The student may struggle at first deciding and committing to academic goals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go back and revise academic plans. It’s important to note that in the beginning of the post secondary experience; academically the student should start out simple but be concise. If the student is undecided on a major but still has to find classes to take, conquering the general education courses that the student will need to get into a major and attain a degree is a great way to start short term goals.

Some people might even benefit from this course of action because if they are dedicated to goals they have set, it will increase success skills in college once the student has reached the level to get into a degree program. This makes things seem a little easier later in the college years because the student has learned have how to manage time, and how to study and get the grades needed to succeed. A student always needs to remember the sky is the limit but it’s up to the student how they are going to get there or how you will not.

Goal setting emerged as a theory in psychology over the course of the last 35 years (Morisano et al. 255). Goal setting will recognize both a student’s conscious and unconscious mind and what the student wishes to achieve. Goal Setting has the power to change a student’s life. While setting an academic goal in the proper way a student will achieve it. So the key with goal setting is to ensure that the right goal is set, and then begin working towards it, most importantly in the right order. Goals can be supportive to a student’s self, academics, family and community. Goal Setting is a tool hat if used correctly can change the quality of one’s life. It is beneficial in academics, personal, health, and business life. “Setting goals can improve performance and ability at any given task. Students with clear goals appear more able to direct attention and effort toward goal relevant activities and away from those that are not” (Morisano et al. 177). The authors go on to say that goal setting is healthy in establishing clear goals increasing self regulating skills, increasing enthusiasm, increased energy, persistence and less susceptible to anxiety, disappointment and frustration.

Further more the article goes on to say that well defined goals appear to help students discover efficient strategies and modes of thought and perception. Even when a student doesn’t realize a goal is in place it probably is for example the night before class one might be organizing books, materials, setting alarms to get up for class the next day not even realizing that these small goals achieved are to reach to the larger goal of getting to school prepared and on time.

Not every student finds it easy to know what goals to set academically Goals which measure academic success might include: an increase in grade point average, improvement in note taking effectiveness, or increased usage of an effective study system. Improvement in any area requires clear behavioral goals, clear outcomes and measurable ways to monitor the student’s goal-oriented behavior. Goals need to well-defined so that they are stated as an outcome, specified as actions, and numerically measurable. A student needs to be able to define goals using each of these three criteria.

The improvement in goals is influenced by the clarity of goal statements (Carter et al. 94-119). The Steps to Achieving Great Goals are appreciating the value of a goal, deciding on the goal a student wishes to set, ensuring they are excited by the goal and documenting their goal as they forge through it towards achievement. “The process of writing about a goal for example keeping a journal detailing the academic goal, the ups and downs related to reaching it, how the student feels about it does appear to have some elements of magic about it” (Lemos 480).

Lemos goes on to say that this is because the process of documenting a goal does a number of very positive things for students. Writing about a goal ensures focus on exactly what the goal is, not just a general feeling of what it is. Having a documented goal is a permanent record of the goal so that the student is consistently pursing the one goal, the student has a future record against which to measure progress, and the process of converting a goal from thought to words engages more of the brain and clarifies the instructions given to your unconscious mind.

While setting academic goals in order to successfully achieve them, the student must ensure the goal is well formed as to identify the evidence that enables them to know when they have achieved it, most importantly identifying the student’s first step, ensure that achieving your goal fits into their life and the cost of the goal is not greater than the benefit that they will achieve. Finally a student wants to identify and remove any and all blockages, finally visualizing skills, talents and interests. For weekly goals, a student shouldn’t choose something that is uncharacteristically demanding for them.

A student can always do more than the stated goal so build on success by choosing something realistic (Lemos 480). Characteristics of a reachable goal are both believable and possible. The student is the key person here so they shouldn’t set a goal that they don’t believe in. The student needs to make sure that they believe they can do it and that it is possible to do in the time they have set aside. A reachable goal is measurable. If a student’s long term goal is to be successful, the will be more likely to reach that goal if they say it in concrete and specific terms.

For instance, they might say that they want to be earning $30,000 a year by the time you are 25. For a weekly goal, move beyond statements like I want to do better in all my classes. Instead, the student should promise them self that they will read two chapters of history by Saturday. A reachable goal is flexible. Sometimes our plans change; sometimes we get sick. The student needs to be prepared to reassess and revise goals if necessary. If the are too sick to study, they may have to revise a goal into reading two chapters of history by extending the time to Monday. A reachable goal is controllable.

The student should make sure they are in charge of the goal. If friends suggest that the best way to pass a class is to study old tests but the student knows that they’re learning style demands chapter outlines to get the material down, the student should stick with what works for them. The student is in control (Konar 1). A student may want help with academic goal achievement. Maybe the student is not sure how to get started with goal setting or they are not sure what goals to set. The student may already have goals in mind and would like confirmation of the steps needed to achieve them. It could be hat they have got a goal setting program under control and may need a little bit of extra motivation or knowledge to keep them on track. This is the student’s chance to meet an adviser or counsellors as well as possibly a success coach who will keep the student headed in the right direction with information, encouragement and support (Carter 94-119). In conclusion goal setting produces improvements in academic success especially among struggling college students. “Goal setting interventions can potentially help students establish not only goals but increase academic progress” (Lemos 482).

Goal setting strategies are encouraged for students on academic probation. Learning to set and maintain plans towards long term goals in school also extend into other areas of their lives, helping to improve themselves in other areas of life as well. Setting an important academic means everything to most students. The student should write a letter of intent, date it, and sign it. Next, the student should place this letter some where that they will see it everyday. The student should go to a friend or fellow student and make a commitment to promote and support one another; it helps to be accountable to someone else. If a student develops dreams into goals, and goals into realities, then realities will become successes.

Works Cited “Academic Success Center. ” Academic Goal Setting. Iowa State University, 2010. Web. 1 Nov 2010. Carter, Carol,. Joyce Bishop,. Sarah Lyman Kravits. “Setting and Reaching Goals: Using Values, Stress Management, and Teamwork. ” How Do Set and Achieve Goals?. Edited. Sande Johnson. Boston: Pearson Education Inc, 2009. Print. Kato, Fumie. “Student preferences: Goal Setting and self assessment activities in a tertiary education environment. Language Teaching Research. 13. 2 (2009): 177-179. Print. Konar, Carol. “Goal Setting. ” Academic Success Center. Oregon State University, 2010. Web. 16 Nov 2010. Lemos, Marina S. “Student’s goals and self regulation in the classroom. ” International Journal of Educational Research. 31. (1999): 471-485. Print. Morisano, Dominique, Jacob B. Hirsh, Jordan B. Peterson, Robert O. Phil, and Bruce M. Shore. “Setting, Elaborating, and Reflecting on Personal Goals Improves Academic Performance. ” Journal of Applied Psychology. 95. 2 (2010): 255-266. Print.