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70+ Academic Goals For College To Make You Smarter

During the college application process it is important to think about what you would like to do after college. Your academic plans for your future career will affect which colleges are best for you.

One tip we have for you is to make a list of your academic goals for college to help guide you in your decision.

Setting realistic goals for school as well as personal goals will help you get good grades and prepare for the post-grad job market and your career path. Without goals, your hard work will go to waste!

A good academic goal for college is to be able to pursue your passions and interests while preparing for the future. College provides you with the opportunity to learn more about what you like. Higher education also gives you the space to expand your knowledge and refine your skills in your desired area of expertise.

College is a great way to take the first step into your chosen career path. College is not just about getting an education, it’s about preparing yourself for the post-grad job market and making yourself an attractive candidate to land a job.

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What are Academic Goals?

Academic goals refer to the specific classes and majors that students choose when they apply to college.

Different colleges offer different programs and some schools focus on more than one subject, while others do not offer certain fields of study at all. Academic goals also include the grades that students need to be accepted into their chosen college program.

If you want to pursue a college education in the near future (or are doing so already), it’s important that you set goals to ensure academic success. The school year goes by quickly and you don’t need to wat until next semester to start goals. Work towards short term goals now.

Setting Your Academic Goals

When it comes to planning the academic goals you are setting for yourself, I highly recommend using a planner that allows you to track and prioritize your goals on a daily and weekly basis.

Academic Goals for College

Take time to think about what you would like to study in college and what type or grade level you will need for admission. You can make a list of your academic goals to help guide your decision when applying for colleges.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Academic Goals for College

  1. What subject do you want to study?
  2. How much time do you want to dedicate to studying each day?
  3. Do you want a campus or online college program?
  4. Would you prefer a large school, where there are more people around, or a smaller town with less distractions?
  5. Do you want to attend a private, public or community college?
  6. What is your desired learning setting? Do you want to be in class with other students, take online courses or study independently, like at a library?
  7. How much money do you plan on spending per year on tuition and fees?
  8. Are there any schools that are near you or do you plan on moving away for college?

Here’s an example of academic goals for college:

I want to study history at a four-year university. I plan on studying every day and prefer taking classes with other students. A private school with a large classroom setting is best for me, since I long to interact with others.

Since I am an independent learner, studying at the library is also a good option for me. A large state school that offers my major is within my budget and there are several colleges near me that offer this program.

70+ Academic Goals For College Students

Here are a variety of goals for college students broken down by topic. It’s very important to set goals in college because you are laying the foundation of your professional life. Here are many different types of goals to set as a college student.

While you should have fun times in college, remember that college is essentially the first four years of your career. You’d do well to act like it!

20+ Educational Goals For College Students

We all have a hectic schedule in college. And sometimes even though we have good intentions, time can get away from us. No matter that you’re doing, it’s never too late to hit ‘reset’ and set new performance goals for yourself.

Goal setting is an important skill to learn in college. Pick a specific goal from the list below and start working towards it!

  1. Maintain a 4.0 GPA.
  2. Get internships that will help you to stand out among the crowd.
  3. Find a mentor who will be there for you to lean on during tough times.
  4. Start building your own personal brand.
  5. Study abroad for at least one semester while in college.
  6. Participate in intramural sports or join a club related to an activity you love.
  7. Get to know your professors.
  8. Take classes you find to be challenging.
  9. Graduate with a 3.0 GPA.
  10. Study for at least 15 minutes every day.
  11. Join student organizations related to your interests.
  12. Create a catchy quote you want people to associate with you.
  13. Have an internship in college.
  14. Go backpacking overseas during the summer or winter break of your junior year.
  15. Build a professional network.
  16. Be published in an academic paper before graduation.
  17. Get accepted into a graduate program.
  18. Build good study habits and prioritize learning.
  19. Volunteer in class.
  20. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. It’s one of the most important things you’ll take away from your college years.
  21. Learn new skills.
  22. Join study groups.
  23. Dive deeper into the subject matter you are studying. For instance, if you need help with programming homework, seek help to deepen your knowledge and understanding.

20+ Professional Goals For College Students

Going to college is the first part of your career. Whether you’re going to go to graduate school or begin your career after graduation, it’s a good idea to work towards professional goals throughout your undergrad years.

  1. Practice your interviewing skills at the career center.
  2. Maintain relationships with your professors.
  3. Attend career fairs.
  4. Join clubs and activities that give you identity capital.
  5. Go to career workshops offered by your university.
  6. Get involved in a mentor program.
  7. Get multiple job offers upon graduation.
  8. Have a job lined up before graduation.
  9. Participate in a program outside of your university.
  10. Network with alumni.
  11. Create an online portfolio of all your work.
  12. Pursue internships or research opportunities over the summer.
  13. Make connections and build a professional network while in college.
  14. Learn how to use social media for your career goals.
  15. Attend office hours regularly to build a relationship with your professor.
  16. Finish a course in a subject you have an interest in, but aren’t majoring in.
  17. Read the newspaper every day.
  18. Write thank you cards for opportunities given to you.
  19. Make a connection in your desired industry.
  20. Consider if a gap year is right for you.

10 Financial Goals For College Students

Your finances in college are important too. As much as it may feel like it, this isn’t the time to let loose and spend all of your money on alcohol. Getting into a good financial rhythm in college will benefit you in the future. Here are 10 financial goals for college students:

  1. Get as many scholarships as possible.
  2. Avoid taking out student loans.
  3. Have a part-time job.
  4. Save at least 10% of every paycheck in a high-yield savings account.
  5. Make a budget and stick to it.
  6. Buy all of your necessary textbooks used.
  7. Resell as much as possible.
  8. Live with a roommate.
  9. Maximize your dining plan allowances.
  10. Avoid shopping on campus – everything is more expensive than if you go off campus or order online.

20 Long-Term Goals For College Students

If you’re looking for long-term goals to set across your college career, here is some inspiration:

  1. Start saving for retirement and an emergency fund.
  2. Pay off your student loans early. If possible, pay $1 extra on each loan every month to do this!
  3. Get a side hustle that will help you when you graduate and need money.
  4. Stay healthy by exercising regularly and eating well throughout college.
  5. Travel abroad at least once.
  6. Become more involved in your community.
  7. Take 5 classes that will give you variety and challenge you academically.
  8. Learn another language.
  9. Start saving for a down payment on a house.
  10. Make at least one connection in every class.
  11. Stay in touch with professors from freshman year.
  12. Devote 1-2 years to being an intern.
  13. Be different from your peers! Go the extra mile when you can.
  14. Work in your major before graduation.
  15. Start building professional relationships when you are an intern or when you have to take part in extracurricular activities related to your field of study.
  16. Earn at least one college credit during high school.
  17. When you graduate, get at least one job offer before accepting any others.
  18. Start every day with a positive mindset.
  19. Have good study habits.
  20. Keep a failure resume.

SMART Goals For College Students

You can turn any of the goals above into a SMART goal by making it specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and anchored within a time frame. Setting good goals, both for the long term and short term-goals, is important.

SMART goals are a widely recognized framework used to set and achieve objectives in various aspects of life, including personal development, career advancement, and project management.

The acronym “SMART” stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each of these elements contributes to the clarity, feasibility, and effectiveness of a goal.

  1. Specific (S): This means that a goal should be clear, well-defined, and specific about what needs to be accomplished. It answers the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how. A specific goal provides a clear direction and purpose, reducing ambiguity and ensuring everyone understands the objective.Example: Instead of a vague goal like “Improve my fitness,” a specific goal would be “Lose 10 pounds in the next three months by following a structured workout and nutrition plan.”
  2. Measurable (M): A goal should be quantifiable or measurable in some way. This allows you to track progress and determine when the goal has been achieved. It provides a concrete way to evaluate your success.Example: Using the previous fitness goal, “Lose 10 pounds” is measurable because you can track your weight loss progress over time.
  3. Achievable (A): An achievable goal is one that is realistic and attainable given the available resources, time, and circumstances. While it’s important to aim high, a goal should not be so far-fetched that it becomes demotivating or unattainable.Example: If you have a busy schedule, setting a goal to exercise for five hours every day may not be achievable. A more realistic goal might be to exercise for 30 minutes five times a week.
  4. Relevant (R): A relevant goal is aligned with your overall objectives and priorities. It should be meaningful and relevant to your personal or professional aspirations. It ensures that the goal contributes to your broader purpose and is not a distraction.Example: If your long-term career goal is to become a software engineer, spending excessive time on unrelated hobbies might not be the most relevant use of your time.
  5. Time-bound (T): A time-bound goal has a specific deadline or target date for completion. This adds a sense of urgency and helps prevent procrastination. It also allows for better planning and allocation of resources.Example: Adding a timeframe to the fitness goal would make it, “Lose 10 pounds in the next three months.” This provides a clear endpoint and a sense of urgency.

By adhering to the SMART criteria, individuals and teams can create well-defined and actionable goals that are more likely to be achieved.

This framework promotes clarity, accountability, and a systematic approach to goal-setting, ultimately leading to higher levels of success and accomplishment.

Here is an example of a SMART goal for college students:

I want to graduate with a 3.5 GPA. I will check my GPA every semester and achieve this goal by earning a B or an A in every class I take. I graduate in 4 years so I need to achieve this goal in four years. I will ensure I achieve it by managing my course load, prioritizing my learning, and checking my grades every two weeks.

Final Thoughts On Setting Academic Goals For College

Make sure to set goals throughout college! Whether it’s academic, professional, financial or long-term goals, they can help you to stay focused and to know what you want.

Setting clear goals in your academic career is a step to getting your dream job in the real world. Throughout college, you’ll expand not only your knowledge, but build valuable skills, including goal setting (like within the smart goals framework) that will benefit you in your career. Good luck! And let us know if you have any questions in the comments.

Share this with high school students in their senior year!

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About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.