As a student, you might think that goal setting is a pointless process because the next few years of your life are already laid out for you. You need to get the best grades possible in your classes, graduate and get a job. However, articulating and setting specific goals is not just a good exercise for you that you can repeat throughout your life. It can also make you a better student and your college years more satisfying.
To begin with, you need to consider your long-term goals. Do you eventually want to build your own venture, or do you hope to be hired at a Fortune 500 company? Perhaps you want to work in international business, changing locations every few years, or maybe you are primarily focused on a location, such as getting a job in your hometown or somewhere near a beach or mountains. Maybe there is a specific industry you long to work in. If you are unsure, this is a good time to brainstorm. Think about your five-year plan, or even longer, but don’t get bogged down in worrying about tying yourself to a certain path. Chances are, your direction will change over time, and you can always make adjustments along the way as needed. Write down your long-term goals.
Remember to think about your financial goals as well. Some students might not be realistic about what their initial salaries will be out of college and what they will need to make. There are two things in particular you need to keep in mind. One is to avoid racking up credit card debt and the other is to think about how you will manage your student loans. Taking out private student loans in order to pay for your tuition is a great way to ease the financial burden and you may not be required to start repaying them until after you graduate. However, the earlier you can start repaying the better, as it can help you get started on the debt and get you into good financial habits early on.
Map Your Goals
The last step is to identify short and medium-term actions that will get you closer to your long-term aims. You need to be as specific as possible. For example, what classes do you need to take to get the job you want after graduation? What grades do you need in them? What extracurricular activities, internships or jobs might better position you for the job you want? You can then work on the short term.
In the semester ahead, write down what you need to do to achieve the necessary grades in the classes you are taking. This might mean studying certain number of hours per week. You may also want to include goals such as visiting each of your professors at least once per semester during their office hours. Finally, keep in mind that this is not just about school and work. What about personal enrichment? Do you want to get better at meeting new friends, or pursue a particular hobby? The more detail you include, the better positioned you will be for success.