How High School and College Students can Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

Set S.M.A.R.T goals to take aim and focus on your next endeavor

Flickr user Adrian Nalk

Setting goals is an important factor in everyone’s life, student or non-student. How are you supposed to work hard for something if you don’t know what that is? Teenagers, especially once they get to college, tend to have a hard time finding out what they want to do next. They know the big picture, but don’t know what to do in the present in order to get to where they want to. Thankfully George T. Doran invented what we now know as SMART goals. S.M.A.R.T is actually and acronym and each letter in the word stands for something.


If you want to accomplish something you must know what that something is. Try to narrow your goal as much as possible and make it really specific, so you won’t get confused or distracted when trying to get it done. If you set yourself a goal such as “get everything done” you won’t get anywhere because that tasks involves a lot of little things like finishing an essay, cleaning the kitchen, and taking the dog for a walk. Be specific with your goals and you’ll see how you’ll get them done faster.


Let’s be honest, you won’t keep up with anything you have to do if you don’t feel motivated about it. Try to look at every goal you have as something that motivates you. It can be as big as a dream you have had since your childhood, or as little as finishing your math homework. If little tasks, like the homework, don’t seem appealing at first think about why you have to do them. You need a good GPA in order to find a good job easier, you want to work at something that makes you feel fulfilled, and in order to do so you have to pass all your courses. Just try to find the motivating aspect of everything.


Think of every goal as something you can do. If your goal is to be a pilot in ten years, think of something you can achieve in a closer future, but something that will work as a base to be a pilot. You can start researching colleges that offer a helpful major, or special courses that will help you improve your skills. Think of tasks you can achieve, because if you think very big at the beginning, you’ll expectation will get high, and if you fail (which you will every once in a while, it’s part of the process of life) you’ll get disappointed.


It is completely okay to be a dreamer. Dream big and as much as you can. But when it comes to setting goals to help you make your dreams come true, try to be as realistic as possible. Have you heard the phrase “head on the clouds but feet on the ground”? keep it in mind because it is so true. Don’t let yourself get lost in dreams and take your eyes out of the things you must do. Keep your eyes on the final prize but don’t forget you still have a long road ahead of you.


You don’t want to spend 6 years graduating college? Then set a time for when your goals have to get done. Plan and organize your ideas, prioritize them so you can do what needs to be done first and you will be good to go.

Try using SMART goals during your college search! With College Raptor, we can help with the specifics, the achievable, realistic, and time-based portions—and maybe even a little motivation too. Use our free college match tool to find schools right for you in a matter of minutes, discover personalized net price estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid packages from certain schools, and read up on anything from testing tips to helpful how to’s on our Blog and College Guide!