Setting Goals to Help Guide Your School Year (French version available)
With the end of summer and the start of the new school year, it’s back to class schedules and studying. Whether it’s your first year at university or college, or you’re further along in your degree, the start of a new year is always exciting—but it can also be intimidating. You may feel like everyone expects you to have your life planned out, while you’re busy facing the constant changes that come with growing up, learning, and experiencing more of the world.
That being said, setting goals for yourself can be a helpful way to create some structure through the school year, and ensure you make the most of your time at school both academically and personally. Having goals also helps you improve yourself and enjoy each day while also working toward your future.
Short-Term vs Long-Term Goals
Short-term goals are smaller, focused, and achievable in the span of a few days, weeks, or at most a couple of months. These help structure your daily tasks, and function as stepping-stones to completing larger and longer-term goals.
Long-term goals are often broader or more complex, and are intended to be pursued and achieved over a longer period of time, such as over a semester or the whole school year.
Short-term goals can be personal, academic, or professional; in fact, it’s a good idea to have some of each. The important thing is to choose goals that you’re interested in achieving, and which will make you happy or benefit your education or career development.
Personal goals for the short term can include things like making a new friend in every class, dedicating time each week to spend with your friends, explore your campus and city, or setting aside time for self-care. You could also join a sports team, take up a new hobby, or join a new club each semester. Any of these activities will help you experience new things, build new skills, and grow as a person.
Academic short-term goals are a great way to push yourself during school, to ensure you’re getting the most out of your classes and your education. These goals can include achieving a specific grade in a course, or finding a mentor to support you through your studies.
Professional short-term goals could be finding a part-time job or internship that supports your education or one of your long-term goals.
During your education, long-term goals serve to keep you on track toward the big picture of your future. Ideally, many of your short-term goals will serve as the steps you take toward achieving these long-term goals. For example, academic long-term goals can be aiming to enter graduate school after your undergraduate degree is complete, or to graduate with a certain grade or with honours.
A long-term goal more on the professional side could be to target a specific job or field that you want to work in after school. This would help you structure your education to work toward this goal when choosing courses and summer or part-time jobs.
Grow Toward Your Future
Goals for both the short term and the long term will help you plan and focus your efforts, and will give you specific things to work toward in your personal and academic life. Just remember that there is no one-size-fits-all set of goals you must choose; you’re the only one who can decide what success looks like for your own life, and then you decide which goals will help you get there.
Betts, Jennifer. “Actionable Long-Term Goal Examples for College Students.” Your Dictionary. https://examples.yourdictionary.com/actionable-long-term-goal-examples-for-college-students.html.
Booz, Nicole. “50 Short Term Goals for College.” GenTwenty. https://gentwenty.com/short-term-goals-for-college/.
Dwyer, Katie. “Success: Planning the New Year for Short-Term and Long-Term Goals.” My College Advice. http://www.mycollegeadvice.org/blog/2014/9/1/success-planning-the-next-year-for-short-term-and-long-term-goals.