How to Set and Meet Realistic Educational Goals

If you look at all successful college students, you’ll see one thing in common. They have educational SMART goals! Setting realistic goals while you’re in college will help you stay on track and help you reach career goals after you graduate! Here are some realistic and effective goals for students to improve their academic skills and how to set them in their lives.

Top 8 Realistic Educational Goals for Students 

1. Spend Extra Time Studying 

College is all about getting an education, but it can be easy to get caught up in other things. A great goal for college students is to spend extra time studying. If you look at your screen time on your phone, you’d be surprised by how many hours you spend on social media. You can set a timer on your phone for social media and spend the extra few hours studying. Studying a few hours every day may not be the most realistic goal, but studying a few extra hours every week is. You’ll be able to comprehend later lessons easier and be able to get ahead of what you need to know. 

2. Get Ahead on Assignments 

Another educational goal for college students is to get ahead on assignments. Waiting until the last minute to finish your assignments can cause a lot of stress. You may not even be putting out your best work either. Using your time wisely while you’re ahead allows you to stress less when those big assignments come up, or the end-of-the-year activities start. 

3. Join a Club or Extracurricular Activities 

Though this doesn’t relate too much to your learning goals, joining a club or extracurricular activity during your college career is a great idea. We love this one because it is such an attainable goal for all students and can still help with your academic performance! You’ll be able to expand your social circle, meet new people, and even learn a new skill. You can join the garden club, do club sports, and even be part of an acapella group! Allowing yourself to have an active social life will help you stay sane while you’re in college. Clubs and extracurriculars also look great on your resume! 

4. Introduce Yourself to the Head of the Department 

Your college major has a head of the department. This is the person you’ll want to network with. See if their classes are available for you to take next semester and introduce yourself to them. Department heads are some of the first to know about internship and research opportunities so if you make yourself known, they’ll keep you in mind the next time something comes up. This can be a game changer for your education and allow you to reach career goals early on!

5. Take a “Fun” Class

Classes that aren’t part of your major may not seem appealing but they’re a great way to take a break! We’re not saying they’re going to be an easy A, but they are great for getting those general education classes out of the way during those harder semesters. You can take tennis, pottery, astronomy, and so much more! It may even help improve your GPA!

6. Use All the Free Resources from Your College 

Your tuition pays for all the campus resources, so it’s time to start utilizing them. They offer free tutoring, interview practice, resume building, and more! These resources are here to help you with every goal you have in your college career. Make an appointment to receive tutoring for that class you’re struggling with. Start using the free campus computers and printers. You may be surprised by how quickly your grades improve when you take advantage of all the resources!

7. Secure an Internship 

An internship is highly sought after by college students. For many students, an internship turns into a job offer after graduation. Securing an internship is a great goal to have and you can start looking at places that will hire you as an intern over the summer during the break. Interning helps students get a feel for a job to see if that career path is right for them. 

8. Keep a High GPA

Every successful college student wants a high GPA. By following all the above rules, you can achieve a high grade point average throughout your college career and receive financial aid because of it! Speak with an advisor while making your schedule for the following semester so you can have a balance of class difficulties. This will ensure you’re not taking 4 really hard classes at the same time which could make your GPA drop if you don’t keep up with the work. 

How to Set Educational SMART Goals for College Students

To reach goals, it’s important to know proper goal-setting techniques for personal and academic goals. While making your list of goals, see if they’re educational smart goals! And by smart, we mean…

Is Your Goal Specific?

Your educational goals should be specific. Do you want your GPA to be high this semester or do you want it to be a 4.0 this semester? Where do you want to secure your internship? What resources do you want to use this semester? By making specific goals, you’ll be able to clearly see the things you want and create effective strategies to achieve them. 

Is Your Goal Measurable?

A measurable goal is easier to track than one that is not. You can track how your GPA changes, how many clubs you join, and how many hours you spend studying every day. When you can measure your goal, it’s easy to see your progress, and makes you want to keep working hard at it. 

Is Your Goal Achievable?

We want all students and goal-setters to shoot for the stars, but it’s important to be honest about your goals. If you’ve never spent more than an hour studying every week then making a goal to study 4 hours a day may not be achievable for you. Though it is possible, it’s not realistic for all students and that’s okay! If you set unachievable goals, you’re more likely to give up on all of them. If you set an achievable goal, you’re more likely to reach it!

Is Your Goal Relevant?

The educational goals you are setting in college should all be relevant to your college career. You can set personal goals too but in the context of education, stay relevant and on-topic with what you want to achieve. 

Is Your Goal Time-Bound?

You should have a time constraint on the goals you’re setting. Do you want to secure an internship this semester or by the end of your junior year? Having an end date on your goals will keep you motivated to finish them out and work hard to meet the deadline. You can still make long-term goals, but make sure you have a time frame for them! 


Setting goals while you’re in college will set you up for a successful career after graduation. By following these educational goals, you’ll be on your way to creating career goals! And it’s okay if you don’t reach every single goal, you can always adjust your list to make up for it later on. You can write these goals down at the beginning of each new school year for a fresh start. Stay motivated and give yourself some grace!