Posted at July 27, 2022 by Daniel Joshua

Have you ever thought about what you should achieve in college? Probably you might think about getting a 4.0 GPA, being a president of an organization, joining a college sports team and joining the competition, or even finding new friends to start a business? Well, those goals are not impossible because some people have those goals and end up achieving them. Having goals in college is important as after you are done in college, you will move to a higher level of the institution. You might want to pursue your master's degree, apply for jobs with companies, or start your business from the bottom. Without having at least a goal, it will be hard for you to have the life you wanted. 

But, what happens when you have a goal which is impossible for yourself? For example, you might want to get a 4.0 GPA in the first semester, but to achieve that goal you only rely on your friends or the internet without any hard work at all. That is why when you want to achieve something, there are some parameters you need to consider before pursuing your goals. There are many methods to analyze the goals, one of them is called SMART goals. 

What are SMART goals? SMART goals are goals for people, especially students to clearly define their goals before pursuing them. It is used to provide yourself with those targets you are aiming for. Defining the targets of your goal helps you to work on your objectives within certain criteria. “SMART” in SMART goals are “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Achievable”, “Relevant”, and “Time-Bound”. Let’s start with the first one.

  • Specific

Specific means well defined and not ambiguous. To achieve a goal, you need to be specific as it will have a higher chance for you to plan on how to accomplish your target. You need to know what you want to achieve, how you can reach your target, why you want to reach for that, and when and where you want it to be achieved. This helps you to specify your goals so that you can break down your goals into smaller goals which are achievable. For example, if you want to be active in an organization, you need to know how to apply to that organization, what organization you want to enter, when you can apply for the organization, and why you want to be in that organization. Therefore, by answering those specific questions, you will not doubt yourself and know what you are aiming for.

  • Measurable

Measurable means having criteria for measuring the progress. Evaluate and track your progress so you will stay motivated and focused. Measuring your progress helps you to meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal. To know if your target is measurable, you need to ask yourself what is the indicator when you have achieved the target or how much are you going to pursue your target. For example, if you want to get enough activity points in college, you need to know how much is the minimum you need to pass for the activity points, so that you can be active in college events, or how do you know or get notified when you have reached the minimum target. Therefore, measuring your goals will be easier to track progress and know when you’ve reached your target.

  • Achievable

Achievable means that the goal you want to achieve must be attainable. You should develop your skills, attitude and resources to get close to your goal, but remember that your goal still is possible to reach. To be able to know how to achieve your goals, you should ask yourself how you can achieve that goal, have other people have done it before, or do you have the skills and resources to achieve the goal. You need to stretch out your abilities so that your goal can be achievable, as some goals may be different from your abilities. For example, if you want to get an A in Physics, you should consider how many people have succeeded in getting an A in your class, or do you understand the materials and completed all of the assignments before entering the exam. By checking if it is achievable or not, you will not get upset when knowing that you can’t achieve that goal in the middle of your journey. 

  • Relevant

Relevant means creating a realistic and sensible reach. Ensuring that your goals are worth it for you and also connected with your other goals so you can think about the bigger picture. A goal should be relevant so that in the end you can achieve it within the time you have projected. Realistic goals also mean that it is not beyond your ability and aligned with your activity. You need to ask yourself if your goal is realistic or not, is it applicable to you, is it worth it, and if you can achieve it or not. For example, if you are a medicine student and you want to join a programming competition, you need to consider if it applies to your curriculum, is it worth for you to attend that competition rather than finding a competition which is connected to your major, or can you win the competition when your basic knowledge is about the human body. Therefore, setting a relevant goal maximizes your time and resources, helps keep you motivated, and helps boost your self-esteem.

  • Time-bound

Time-bound means you know you can finish your goals before the deadline, as not having a deadline would not bring any sense of urgency and you will end up having no motivation to do your goal. Having a time limit can help you to prepare a plan to finish your goal throughout the time before it ends. Ask yourself when you should decide your deadline and what you can do step by step every day, week, or month. For example, if you want to be a president of an organization, you need to have a clear answer about when you can be eligible to be the president and what you can prepare for now to be qualified to be the candidate. Having a clear deadline for your goal helps you to focus on what you should do now before moving to another one before the time runs out.

SMART goals may be ineffective and misunderstood by some people, as they cannot be projected for long term goals because the method is not flexible. But for some people, it is effective and useful for short term goals and can improve your ability to define your objectives and finish it within a completion date. So how about you, do you want to try using SMART goals to achieve your targets in college?


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Indeed Editorial Team. (2021, November 25). What are college students’ SMART goals? (with benefits). Indeed Career Guide. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from’%20SMART%20goals%20are%20goals%20that%20students%20can%20clearly,%2C%20realistic%20and%20time%2Dbound.

Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.). SMART goals: How to make your goals achievable. Mind Tools. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from