Flickr user Jason Burrows

Have you heard of SMART goals before? It’s generally for project management, but it can also be a great tool when you put it towards personal development. Today, the acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Here’s how you can use each one towards your college applications.

S: Specific

When it comes to your goals for your college applications, you want to be Specific. This means outline your goals. How important is each task? What exactly are you hoping to get done? What are your exact goals? Be as specific as possible.

M: Measurable

It can be hard to stay motivated when it comes to sending in college applications. However, creating measurable goals and staying on track can help you meet the deadlines you either set for yourself or the ones the college sets for you.

When Measurable is in relation to your college applications, you may want to ask “How many applications do I want to complete?” Set milestones and deadlines for yourself to notice the progress you make in completing your tasks.

A: Achievable

As always, the goals you set for yourself and your college applications shouldn’t be unattainable. Be realistic. The goals should be Achievable. For example, you may have the desire to apply to over 20 colleges, but is that really beneficial? That goal in particular may harm you. FAFSA only sends financial aid information to so many schools and applying to 20 colleges may not give you the time you need to give each application the attention they require.

So ask yourself how you can achieve your goals, have the applications in by the deadlines, and apply to the colleges you want to attend.

R: Relevant

You’ll also want to ensure that your goals are relevant to your college applications. Are certain tasks worthwhile to what you want to achieve? If a school is on your list that you’re only slightly interested in, is it really worth your time to apply to that school? Would your time be better served applying elsewhere?

T: Time-Bound

Deadlines come into the T of SMART as well. These are essential both to you and your colleges as applications are absolutely Time-Bound. Each school will have an application due date, so you’ll want to send in your paperwork ahead of this date.

However, you may want to create deadlines for yourself. Sending in an application last minute could have disastrous consequences if there’s an issue with the server, website, or your internet. You don’t want to miss your chance! Set deadlines for yourself when it comes to essays, teacher recommendations, paperwork, and more to ensure everything is in ahead of schedule. Delaying could result in your college never receiving your application.

SMART is a great way to set your goals in sight, for college applications as well as any other work and school goals. Using this guide can ensure you submit your applications on time and to the best of your ability while also achieving your goals.

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