People who succeed in life, rarely do so by accident. They make goals and create an action plan to achieve those goals. College success is no different. The best types of goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. The most common goal students make in college is to get good grades and graduate. They are good goals but they aren’t SMART. Here are a few SMART goals you can make for yourself in your first year or beyond. They aren’t only smart, but they are goals that are proven to help you maximize your college experience and complete college within 5 years.
Make a 4.0 GPA
Many students think that this is impossible or that they will have to sacrifice and arm and a leg (time wise) to get it. It’s not as impossible as one may think and the benefits are worth it. Let’s start with the benefits first, then on to the “how”. Why make a goal of a 4.0 in your first year? The classes will never be as easy as your introductory courses. Courses get harder as you progress in college. It’s harder to improve your GPA as you gain credits. So, if you think your first year is practice and you will have time to get your grades up in future semesters, you may want to reconsider.
It’s not impossible to increase you GPA after your first year; however, you’ll have to pull 4.0 consistently to move just a half point. But the reverse is also true, if your GPA is higher to begin with, the harder it will be to fall drastically. That’s a good thing because as you get into your harder classes sophomore and junior year, you’ll have some cushion if you run into trouble in a course or two. Making a goal of a 4.0 your first year can help you to maintain a GPA above a 3.0 if you are able to maintain a semester GPA within a 3.0 or higher.
Now, for the how.
How simply involves not doing things first year students tend to do (i.e. skipping class, avoiding help, procrastinating). See, not its that difficult or life altering. At the minimum, manage your time wisely, go to class everyday, go to tutoring faithfully, utilize study groups, study a little every day, use or Study Guide. Want extra support to make sure you attain this goal? Check our academic coaching services. So, what if I don’t make a 4.0? It’s okay, even making the goal will help you to attain a higher GPA than what you would have attained had you not set a goal.
Get involved on campus.
You should make a goal to get involved on campus. Don’t go over board, but pick up at least one fun and one professional organization. Benefits of participating in extracurricular activities are numerous. Students who connect to campus through extracurricular activities are more likely to persist and graduate. You can also improve skills that are important to employers such as communication, organization and collaborative skills. Starting out in your first-year can put you in position to gain leadership positions in your upper-class years that can give a boost to your resumes. How do you find organizations? You attend an organizational fair, browse the institution’s website or visit the student life office. If you don’t find anything that may interest you, start your own. It will definitely catch the eye of the faculty staff on campus and potential employers.
Find a mentor.
Commit to finding a mentor. A mentor is someone who provides support through giving advice, connecting you to resources, and helping your reach your goals. There are different types of mentors for each area of your life. You can find a peer mentor who is someone who is around your age or classification. They can tell you their strategies for getting through each year of college so that you can adopt those strategies and share with you what mistakes they have made so you can avoid those mistakes. A faculty mentor can help you navigate your major and career. They can help you select internships or make moves that will increase your employability. A staff mentor can be someone that you simply connect with. They can help you solve issues, connect you to resources, and advocate on your behalf. If you have studied successful people, you would find that they all have mentors. Successful college students are no different. How do you find a mentor? Look for mentoring organizations on campus. Attend campus activities to begin identifying staff and faculty on campus that could be potential mentors.
Be open to diversity.
Get to know people outside of your own culture or race. It’s natural to have a narrow view of the world growing up. College affords us the opportunity to learn from almost every culture in the world. You’ll be surprised of how your view and thoughts change by meeting new people and you’ll be excited by the fact that everyone has something in common. Being able to interact with others who are different from you, discover similarities and appreciate differences will help you to become better global citizen, employer, and leader. Begin by attending cultural events on campus. Make an effort to engaged with your classmates in and out of class through group projects or study groups. Even consider signing up for a study abroad opportunity.
Secure an internship or summer experience.
Internships are an important part of the academic and career experience. Internships will help see how the knowledge you learn in class will translate to the real world. You’ll be able to test drive your potential career path as well as gain options for the types of jobs you may want in the future. Internships provide an opportunity to network with decision makers and show companies what it would be like if you worked for them. They are essential to making sure you have job options after you graduate and making the job search less rocky. Make an appointment with your career center to start the search process. Institutions often have partnerships with companies that offer internships to their students. You can also search online for opportunities with companies that employ your major. Do not be afraid to take non-paid internships, they often have big advantages for future employment.
These goals can help you maximize your college experience. They can help provide a smooth transition for your first year and help lay the foundation for success in your latter years. Need a little extra support staying motivation to achieve these goals? Be Preppy can coach you through each one. Check out our coaching options.