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10 Examples of Effective Goals for Students

Introduction / What are Goals

One of the most popular definitions of a goal is "the idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve". In other words, goals represent targets, the things we strive to obtain. 

As the great American rights leader -  Benjamin E. Mays once said, “It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach."

He could not have said it any better. It's a real tragedy that so many of us don't realise our full potential due to the fear of failure. If you've got high aspirations but are scared to set goals because you may fail, it's incredibly important that you recognise that the only thing you should fear is not having any goals at all.  

10 Examples of Effective Goals for Students

Hopefully, this guide will inspire you to to set some goals so that you can achieve more as a student.

How to Set Effective Goals

Before we get to the 10 examples of effective goals for students, it's important that you know what an effective goal consists of. Once you understand this, you'll be able to set your own effective goals and further personalise these goals to your own lives.

Our favourite strategy for setting effective goals is the S.M.A.R.T system. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for all of the criteria that your goals must meet to be effective. Here's a quick summary of S.M.A.R.T goals:

S for Specific

  • Your goals need to be as detailed as possible
  • You should have a clear vision of what you want to achieve
  • You don't want to waste your time and energy not knowing what you're working towards

M for Measurable

  • You should be able to track progress for your goal
  • This can serve as great motivation on your journey to achieving your goal
  • Gives you an idea of how long / how much you have left until you achieve your goal

A for Attainable

  • If your goals are unattainable, you're just going to be wasting your own time and energy
  • Ensure that you don't burn yourself out trying to achieve near impossible goals.

R for Relevant

  • There's no point setting goals for the sake of it, you'll just be spreading yourself thin
  • Set only a few relevant goals so you can give them your undivided attention
  • Is it worth the sacrifices?

T for Time Bound 

  • You should state exactly when you want to complete your goal by
  • This prevents procrastination
  • Implements a sense of urgency

10 Examples of Effective Goals for Students

Edwin A. Locke (an American psychologist and a pioneer in goal-setting theory) found that in nearly 90% of cases, effective goals led to the individual performing better compared to those who set ineffective goals..

Therefore by following this criteria, when you come to set your own goals, there will be a higher chance of you achieving them

10 Idea's for your Goals as a Student

1. Take at least one extra course 

Not only is this going to look great on your CV but it can also provide you with real skills that could help you in the future. 

2. Improve attendance

If you're the type to skip lessons, try setting a goal that would help you to improve your attendance. This can be an incredibly beneficial goal as your lecturer may give you some invaluable information which may help your grades. 

3. Improve your grades for a certain subject

If you're not doing as well as you would like in one of your modules or subjects, set a goal using the S.M.A.R.T criteria to ensure your grades improve.

10 Examples of Effective Goals for Students

4. Start exploring future career ideas

It may seem a million miles off depending on how far into student life you are, but as the graduates will tell you, time flies by. Try to get a jump on your career by exploring what you would like to do in the future. You can even start preparing by improving your CV or doing the necessary preparation.

5. Read about your subjects in your spare time

If you've got a lot of spare time on your hands, try spending some time on reading about your subjects and modules. This can benefit you in various ways, it may even help in the middle of an exam!

6. Participate in sports clubs, hobby clubs, etc

One of the best things you could do to ensure your student life is as fun as possible is to join a club in which interests you. It's a sure fire way to meet like minded people and to partake in the activities you love to do.

7. Set a budget

If you're one of the many students who live in halls or with friends, try setting a goal involving sticking to a budget. The last thing you want is to be in a situation where you can't afford rent or food because you've overspent on luxuries.

8. Stick to an exercise routine

Setting a goal involving exercise may seem irrelevant when thinking of student goals, however this couldn't be any further from the truth. Exercise can teach discipline, raise energy levels and improve your memory.

10 Examples of Effective Goals for Students

9. Build a network of like minded students

Another way you could improve your experience as a student is to build a network with those who are studying the same subjects as you. Not only could they become great friends but you could also reach out to them if you're stuck on an assignment or want some study partners.

10. Stay consistent with a study schedule

Setting a goal of staying consistent to your study schedule could be one of the most effective goals you could set. Instead of relying on motivation to study, you could make a habit of studying daily. This way you can get ahead of the curve and let your knowledge build up over time!


I hope that this guide on student goals will motivate you to start setting your own goals and that some of these ideas will serve as inspiration for your goals; remember to make sure your goals follow the S.M.A.R.T criteria to increase the likelihood of you achieving your goal!

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