Academic Goals strategies for Beginners

Academic Goals strategies for Beginners10 min read

In this article, I will give you a detailed guide on how to set academic goals, smart goals for students, and goals for school that will 10x your performance in school. I will also give a practical guide to SMART goals and SMART goals examples for students.

Being a student has its challenges and tensions and sometimes, these challenges can be overwhelming. In the midst of all these, you want to make good grades and make your time in school worthwhile.

Setting academic goals is one way to get the kind of experience you want, as it gives you the luxury of managing your time effectively and also aids you in getting a lot of work done while being focused in college.

What Are Academic Goals?

An academic goal is an educational target set by a student in order to improve performance and also show overall progress. One of the biggest mistakes a college student can make is not to set academic goals because, without goals, you won’t have a reason to study.

Benefits of Setting Academic Goals

  • Academic goals enable students to get the most out of their education as well as gives them a clear view of what they aim to achieve; hence, allowing them to take the necessary steps towards their goals.
  • Setting goals motivates students and increases their commitment.
  • It gives them direction and purpose as well as increases their focus, improves performance, and gives them a better educational experience.
  • Smart goals for students develop habits that will be of use in the nearest future.
  • Goals build up your academic strengths

Types of Academic Goals

Short term goal

These are goals you want to achieve within a short period, and they give instant gratification. These goals could be milestones set to get or achieve longer-term goals. Examples of short term goals include:

Goal to:

  • Improve your relationship with your family
  • Start a side hustle in school
  • Read one book a month
  • Spend less time talking during working hours
  • Learn a new language
  • Change the way you talk to people
  • Change your Job
  • Stop procrastinating and do the work at the required time.
  • Stop smoking

All these are some of the examples of short term goals.

Long term goals

These are goals that can take the whole year or semester and be complicated. It can involve a series of steps or milestones that lead up to the main result. Examples of long term goals includes:

Goal to:

  • become the all-time best student in your high school
  • become a Billionaire
  • Improve your talent and become a better version of yourself
  • Acquire 5 degrees in 10 years

How to Set Academic Goals

Setting academic goals is not as easy as it seems but can be done. When setting goals, you have to put a few things into consideration.

  • Identify your long-term and short-term goals
  • Describe in detail what each goal entails: State what needs to be done, how you plan to achieve each goal, the steps and series of milestones, and the expected result.
  • Prioritize each goal
  • Set time frames if possible
  • Write your goals down and keep them where you can see them and remind yourself
  • Avoid setting too much then you can handle so as to avoid unnecessary pressure
  • Work with instructors, teachers, or tutors
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Examples of Academic Goals

Here are a few examples of academic goals you can set for yourself:

  • Starting a reading schedule of at least two hours every day after classes
  • Reading more books
  • Maintaining a GPA of 3.0
  • Improving your grade in science to a “B”; if you are not too good in science.
  • Get every paper or homework done before it is due
  • Graduating

The S.M.A.R.T. Method

While setting your academic goals, you have to make your goals challenging, distinct, and attainable. They have to be things that are worth the time, stress, and effort.  They should be S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that is commonly used in the goal-setting process as it gives your goals a defined purpose and direction. S.M.A.R.T goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound


When setting your education goals, don’t just keep them broad. Make them specific. State those particular things you want to do. For example, you want to get an “A” in maths, don’t just write “Get an A in maths.”

Break it down to maybe the particular topics you want to get better at or how many hours you’re going to spend studying and how many days a week.

This will help you prepare better and also help keep your goals list or journal organized and understandable.


This is keeping your goals quantifiable, so you can keep track of your progress and tell when you’ve achieved them. Using the example above, you can set the number of topics or papers you want to read per day, week, or by a specific date.

For complicated goals like “learning a new language,” you could say, “learn how to introduce myself without a mistake after 2-3 weeks.” This gives you the means to measure your progress.


You have to set goals that are realistic and can be done. While breaking your education goals into specific small steps, which makes them practical, you also have to make sure that those steps can be achieved within the set time range while still leaving enough time to perform other tasks.

In as much as your goals should be out of your comfort zone, they should also not be overzealous and out of reach as it can be discouraging and disappointing when you don’t achieve them.


When setting goals, make sure they are essential and useful to you. Don’t set goals because your friends are setting theirs.

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It can make these goals lose their purpose and value because there won’t be genuine enthusiasm about them, and you can get disappointed if you don’t achieve them.

On the other hand, make sure they are things that are relevant to your course and are worth your time and effort.


Your goals should have deadlines and specific dates by which you want to have achieved them. This keeps you focused and accountable. When you set a time to achieve a goal, it forces you to step up and realize that goal just to beat the time in your schedule.

Smart Goals for Students

For a student to do well above expectations in school, he/she needs to set SMART education goals. Here are some of the SMART goals examples a student can set:

Goal to be the best in Extra Curricular activities(Goals for School):

Let’s take soccer for an instance, if you have a goal to be the best striker in the school team, you need to break it down using the SMART goals for students.

Specific: The goal is specific, “to be the best striker in the school team”.

Measurable: This involves how you track the progress of achieving the goal. If you want to be the best striker, you have to engage in consistent daily training, juggling, proper shot targets, free-kick practice, and many more. You should keep track of these daily.

Achievable: The goal to be the best striker in the school team is realistic and achievable. The only thing is that you need to step out of your comfort zone to get what you want.

Relevant: You should be a player in the school team to set a goal to be the best striker. On the other hand, you cannot be a keeper and set a goal to become the best striker in the team; it doesn’t align.

Timely: How long will it take to become the best? It requires time and effort. Set this goal for a month and do the work needed. If you haven’t achieved it, give yourself more time to work hard to achieve it.

Goal to Make As in all Classes(Goals for School):

This goal can be broken down into the specific subjects involved; for instance, if you want to make As in all subjects, you have to make sure you attend all the classes, do the necessary assignments and take the required examinations.

In preparing to achieve this goal in line with the SMART goals for students method, it is specific, “You want to make As in all Classes, which can be broken down to As in Maths, English, etc”, then you set the amount of time spent in preparing for the classes and the time you spent to read for each subject daily.

Measurable: How many subjects can you cover in a day? How many assignments do you have to review? All these should be put into consideration so that you can plan yourself well and give time to other essential things.

Achievable: The goal to make As in all courses is achievable. Other students have done it and you too can do it.

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Relevant: The goal to make straight As is relevant to your life because it will make you smarter, more knowledgeable, and get you access to opportunities. On the other hand, you get appreciated by your parent or sponsor who is in charge of your educational bills.

Timely: The school has a calendar, from which you will plan the number of months to prepare and the time to spend on other things. The entire time for the goal is a full semester or term.

Here is a detailed A-Z Guide on How to make A’s in College.
Here is also a detailed guide on How to prepare for an exam in One week

Read a one Non-academic Book a Month(Goals for School):

This is one of the most important SMART goal examples for students. Being in college doesn’t restrict you to only academic books. You need to read non-academic books to build your character and leadership skills as a student.

On the other hand, creating time for this is not easy because a lot of academic books are there to be read, and you have limited time to cover them.

I will show you how to set the SMART goal of reading non-academic books.

Specific: The goal here is to read one non-academic book a month. It is specific to just one book alone.

Measurable: In keeping this goal measurable, you need to set the number of pages you can read daily. The total number of daily readings will complete the book at the end of the month. If the book is about 200 pages, dividing 200/30 gives 6-7 pages per day for one hour.

Achievable: The goal of a school student to read a non-academic book is achievable. The only thing is that the student has to go the extra mile of waking up one earlier to read before he/she starts the day.

Relevant: The relevance of this goal cannot be explained enough because it will make you a better person as a read.

Timely: The time set out for this goal is one month. Due to some circumstances, one month might exceed but do well to read the best way you can to understand and also, practice what you learn.

Final tips:

A quote says, “He that fails to plan plans to fail.” Setting academic SMART goals will place you above your peers because you have already planned your day and know what to do already to achieve a definite purpose.

Goal setting will help you challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and be the best that you can.

Awesome one, I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading this article.

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