50+ Good Examples of SMART Goals for Students

Setting goals is a critical step in every student’s life. It can be the key to unlocking their potential and helping them to achieve success.

But how do students make sure their goals are SMART? How do these goals help them with their grades, test scores, and personal lives?

According to several experts, here are some good examples of SMART goals for students.

Beverly Gearreald

Beverly Gearreald

Educational Consultant | Community Manager, Transizion

SMART goals are defined by their very precision. Those unfamiliar with the acronym mean SpecificMeasurableAchievableRelevant, and Time-bound. While typically used in the business setting, they can also be used to help students of all ages.

For younger students

With children who are still learning how the world works, the best way to introduce SMART goals is with ordinary things

Ask a group of students to tidy the playroom

For example, when you ask a group of students to tidy the playroom, perhaps have each student pick a particular toy to put away with the goal of cleaning the room in the next 5 minutes. 

It has the benefit of each student having a task. It is measurable by whether that toy is put away, achievable if the regular toy containers are within easy reach, relevant to the student because they learn responsibility, and has a time limit.

For high school students

As students get older, you want to stop assigning them SMART goals and instead have them set for themselves. For instance, if you’re assigning a student a project that involves writing five short stories, have them break it up. 

Assign a student a project that involves writing five short stories

One student may decide to outline all five stories before writing them. Another might decide to outline one, then immediately write it. Perhaps another wants to proofread all at once rather than one at a time. 

Allowing each student to assign their own deadlines for different parts of the project helps teach students how to start creating their own SMART goals.

For college students

When in college, there are often a lot of deadlines due all at once, particularly around midterms and the end of the semester. Students should be encouraged to look at their syllabi in advance and notice when several tests or projects are due within a short window. 

Prioritize what they’re working on and how long

This is an excellent time for them to set themselves SMART goals. For instance, “review 10-pages of Chem 101 notes over my lunch hour.” It’s specificmeasurable, achievablerelevant, and time-bound.

It helps students prioritize what they’re working on and how long

Setting SMART goals throughout the day can help students prioritize what they’re working on and how long. If they find they’re failing at a particular goal, it can help them re-examine how they’re doing in that area before it becomes an issue. 

For instance, if AP US History homework is allotted two hours a week, it regularly takes four. The student knows they need to do more work on the weekends to make the goal of completing their AP US History homework achievable.

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell

Co-Owner, Throw Deep Publishing

Find a relevant timeline to stick to with your goals

When I was in college, SMART Goals were helpful in ensuring that I could reach my potential as a learner and allowed me to hold myself accountable for things that were important to me. I still use SMART Goals to this day in my professional life, and I find them incredibly useful!

Related: Why Is Accountability Important?

Below is an example of a SMART Goal that I implemented into my routine as a Junior in college. My course load was getting more difficult, and I had to dedicate myself to learning to get maximum results. 

In this example, I was trying to improve my retention of lecture material so that I didn’t have to waste a bunch of time trying to relearn content before exams. 

The basis of this Goal was to keep the information I learned in the lecture at the forefront of my mind and continue actively thinking about it for as long as we were still covering similar material, which usually lasted until the next midterm. 

There are five pieces to any SMART Goal. They are as follows: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based — one sample for each letter of the word. 

Here’s a breakdown of how I implemented each phase of the goal:

Specific: I’m going to spend 30 minutes per day reviewing my lecture notes 

I will spend 30 minutes per day reviewing my lecture notes to allow my brain to retain the information better. This portion of the goal outlines the exact action I planned to take to attain the result. 

When forming this part of your goal, ensure that the action you are taking directly impacts what you want to achieve!

Measurable: I will build this time into my daily schedule to ensure that I don’t miss a day

I like to think about the measurable portion of SMART Goals as a way to hold yourself accountable. 

In this case, I will be measuring my success and ability to make progress toward my end result by tracking how many days I successfully implemented the “specific” portion of my goal from above. 

In doing so, I state that I need to set aside specific blocks of time on each unique day of the week to ensure that I do not miss study sessions.  

Attainable: Make sure that the things I learned in notes and material sticks

This section is simple but very important. When making a goal, it’s vital that your goal is something that is realistic and can be achieved through the actions that you’re taking. 

You must be sure that the steps you are taking will achieve your desired result. Here I outline what I am already doing to help with my goals and why adding something new to the situation can act as a helping mechanism

Relevant: I want to improve my GPA from last semester 

I want to improve my GPA from last semester — I’m already succeeding, but I know I can do better with a minor adjustment. The relevant portion is simply why this goal matters to you. 

What makes this goal something worth pursuing? For me, academics is and was a largely important area of my life and future, so I wanted to do the best work I could! 

Find something that matters to you, and make a relevant SMART Goal to help yourself get better at it!

Time-Based: This semester begins in a couple of weeks and I have this term to meet my goals

Every goal should have a particular window of time in which you’re looking to achieve it. It doesn’t always have to be a hard deadline, but having a “due date” can create natural and healthy pressure to hold yourself accountable. 

By following the steps above, it is likely that this goal is already quite important to you and that you have good intentions to follow through with it, but this helps provide you with another way to measure your success. 

Find a timeline, and do your best to stick to it. In my example, I was confined to the timeline of the school year. I was beginning my SMART Goal journey at the start of the semester and concluding it at the end. 

Find a relevant timeline to stick to with your goals!

Bruce Hanson

Bruce Hanson

Education Wellness Expert, UCLA | CEO, First Choice Admissions

Execute small, well-defined goals to reinforce a virtuous cycle of control

SMART goals have a major, hidden benefit that isn’t talked about very much — but should be. Happiness research out of Harvard (documented in Shawn Achor’s book: The Happiness Advantage) shows a key driver of stress and anxiety is feeling out of control. 

However, researchers found that by taking steps to control just a tiny piece of your environment, you can meaningfully reduce stress in your life and meaningfully increase your happiness

So executing SMART goals allows you to achieve a single, well-defined goal and sets you on a path of control, increasing your mental wellbeing. 

So the next goal you set tends to be easier to achieve. And the next goal after that is still easier. Executing smaller, well-defined goals reinforces a virtuous cycle of control.

What once seemed impossibly overwhelming starts to feel manageable. And what once drove stress drives confidence.

Set your SMART goals for the SAT or ACT: Ensure they are very targeted

And speaking of things that seem impossibly overwhelming, let’s talk about getting a great score on the ACT or SAT. It looks like the tests are massive in scope. And worse, they seem resistant to study. 

Many students study for weeks without making much progress. But you can study for them — this is how.

It’s important to know that the tests are highly non-intuitive and only kind of test your knowledge of English and Math. Understanding how the tests actually work and what they actually test is the key to getting a great score

So before we dive into SMART steps, I would encourage you to get some test prep help. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

When you set your SMART goals for the SAT or ACT, ensure they are very targeted. Do not try to take on a full section — that’s too much. I’ll give you an example of steps I take my students through to get them good at Reading Comprehension. 

Read the passages in a fast and effective way

SMART Goal: Reading Science and Social Science Passages on the SAT and ACT

Specific: You don’t score any points for reading the passage, so the goal is to read any science or social science passage on the SAT or ACT very fast with maximum comprehension. 

Measurable: Read any passage in no more than 90 seconds and be able to answer over half the questions without looking back into the passage.

Achievable: You will need to learn some new techniques, but they aren’t complicated.  

Read more slowly at the beginning and the end of the passage. 

Specifically, pick out (and write down) the answers to these four questions:  

  1. What is the passage about? 
  2. What is the author’s point of view? 
  3. Are there other points of view? 
  4. On a scale of 1–5, how argumentative is the passage?  

Skim each middle paragraph and jot down the main point

Second, skim each middle paragraph and jot down the main point of the paragraph in just a few words.

I know you don’t believe it — but if you’ve done the above steps well, you are now ready to answer almost any question they ask without searching back into the passage.

Relevant: Learning the techniques for reading passages fast will absolutely raise your score on the ACT or SAT. 

Time-bound: Most students can get the technique down in about 7–10 days if they dedicate about ½ hour per day (breaking down 2-3 passages daily).

Julie Medeiros

Julie Medeiros

Founder, Miss M Online Classes

The concept of SMART goals is very popular in the business world and for a good reason. SMART goals help achieve the desired results and make the process manageable and more enjoyable

And the best thing is that setting SMART goals work in many areas of life beyond studies and career. It can help with achieving personal goals, too.  

In my project, I teach students how to set SMART goals to achieve results successfully. Whether it is exam preparationassignment, or homework, knowing how to develop specificmeasurableachievablerealistic, and time-bound goals is a core competence modern students need to learn before attempting the task. 

Preparation for the exam

Let’s imagine a situation: It is the end of the semester, and you have the English exam in a fortnight.  

Pass the test with the desired mark

Obviously, your ultimate goal is to pass the test with the desired mark. But this is not a SMART goal. Let’s see how it can be turned into a truly SMART goal. 

In my classes, I advise students to examine the problem with the end result in mind. In our example, you have two weeks before the test. Even though the “T” (time-bound) component comes last in the SMART abbreviation, it is worthwhile to plan backward from that date. 

It will give you a good understanding of how much time you have to prepare and structure your study time. 

Complete one practice test daily by answering all questions correctly

Once this is done, you can start formalizing your goal. For example, for the next 13 days, complete one practice test daily by answering all questions correctly within the allotted time.  

Apart from being time-bound by noting the duration and frequency of practice, this goal is specific (specific practice test questions need to be answered), measurable (all correct answers within the allocated time of the test), achievable (let’s pretend your planning is done, and you are aware of the areas to work on), realistic (one practice test daily is quite an attainable target for most students). 

This is now a SMART goal as it ticks all the requirements.  

Managing homework load

Here is another example of making SMART goals work for managing your homework load: To prepare a persuasive debate presentation by including five evidence-backed arguments to counter the opponent’s views by the end of the weekend. 

Dedicate time and effort to the task

Let’s check again: is this goal Specific? Yes! Measurable? Yes (5 arguments). Realistic and achievable? Totally, if you dedicate time and effort. Timely? Yes, again, as the task needs to be complete by the weekend.

You can specify it by adding 5 pm on Sunday, for instance.  

Enroll in twice-a-week coached classes

The process of setting SMART goals is similar across many life scenarios. My daughter, who is only eight, has developed this goal for her learning to swim: Learn two swimming styles (backstroke and breaststroke) by enrolling into twice-a-week coached classes at the local swimming pool XYZ by xx (date).  

Turning “learning to swim” into a SMART goal gave her the direction and end results she’s been striving to demonstrate.  

Tip: have your goal written or printed and place it in a visible place, like your study area. It will be a great reminder and a helper to prioritize things you “must do” over “want to do.” 

Dr. Shameka Stewart, PhD, CCC-SLP/L

Shameka Stewart

Associate Professor | Juvenile Forensic Speech-Language Pathologist | Child Language Disorders Specialist, Juvenile Forensic SLP

Generically, a SMART goal is an acronym for a goal that is SpecificMeasurable, AttainableRealistic, and Timebound. However, it is vital to create SMART goals that go beyond the basic approach for children. 

SMART should also stand for SpecificMeasurable and MotivatingAttainable, RelevantTested

As such, when a SMART goal also includes these areas, it creates a plan and intention that motivates the child to want to learn more, is relevant to not only the social and academic needs of the child but also their cultural needs, and is tested to ensure it is successful and will make an impact. 

Once this is also taken into account, an example of a good SMART goal would be:

For children, selecting from a choice of desired items is best

A child will verbally request one choice of a preferred toy from a field of three visually presented with 75% accuracy across 20 consecutive sessions/trials/opportunities with moderate clinical/parent verbal and visual prompting.

This goal incorporates: 

  • What the child likes (preferred toy) – motivating.
  • How the child must access the request (verbally and from a choice field) – specific and measurable to identify what skill is being worked on and how we can determine the child is getting practice with the skill.
  • How the child will attain the goal (75% accuracy across 20 consecutive sessions) – attainable and measurable as it shows the child’s skill being met with a level that is not too high for them to meet, for example, and what accuracy level is measured to determine mastery.
  • How the goal is tested (20 consecutive sessions with prompting) – demonstrating that the child has multiple chances to practice the goal and until it is shown with consistency will not be determined to be mastered or failed.  

Overall, the goal is relevant because it is something the child is used to in their daily life (their favorite toys) and incorporates the goal of being able to request their wants and needs verbally.

It should be based on what is relevant and present in the child’s surroundings and culture

It is important to note that SMART goals should be based on what is relevant and present in the child’s surroundings and culture. It should not be based on what the clinician thinks the child needs but incorporate the needs and expectations of the family and their values. 

In addition, goals that are to be good and successful should always have an accuracy and trial measure (80%, # consecutive sessions), and trials/sessions should always be consecutive and not intermittent or sporadic to ensure mastery.

Elise Phillips

Elise Phillips

Senior Maths & Science Teacher | Curriculum Leader | Writer, The Will to Teach

Complete 50% of the Science homework every week

The most important thing when making SMART goals for students is ensuring they are involved in the process. You will get many students saying that they don’t know what to put for their goal, but they need to be encouraged and at least heavily involved in the conversation. 

Making a SMART goal for a student without their input is useless because they are the ones that need to be working towards it; it needs to be something that they actually want to do. 

Make several small goals

It’s better to make several small goals in succession than to have one so big that the student doesn’t believe they can do it. They may be able to achieve the goal, but it needs to feel achievable. We always use SMARTAR goals — the A means Agreed upon, and the R means Reviewed.

Some examples of some good SMART goals:

  • To stay back after their Maths lesson for five minutes to initiate a discussion about the class content with the teacher without prompting once per week every week by the end of the semester.
  • To complete 50% of the Science homework every week to a C standard or higher with prompting from parents by the end of the year.

These goals are very specific in what the student will do, to what standard they will do it, and what help they will have to get there. 

The idea of a SMART goal is that it should be able to be ticked off as a simple “Achieved” or “Not Achieved.” If you need to comment on how well they did it, your goal wasn’t specific enough.

Examples of bad SMART goals:

  • To improve their reading score by the end of the year.
  • To ask parents for help with homework every evening.

These goals are not very specific or measurable. While they have some really good elements in SMART goals (such as a timeframe and the expected support details), they are simply not detailed enough. 

There is some ambiguity in the goal — one person might say that they have done it while another might disagree based on how well they did it.

Jenna Boholij

Jenna Boholij

Director of Marketing Communications, Herzing College

When you want to aim a little higher and obtain at least a B+ in each course

SMART goals set students up for success by following its meaning: specific, measurableattainablerelevant, and time-bound. For example, all students usually enter a new semester intending to pass all of their classes. 

However, maybe this term, you want to aim a little higher and obtain at least a B+ in each course. Using the SMART format, you can effectively plan and measure your success. 

Specific: Look into each class and note deadlines to meet throughout the semester

Being specific requires that you look into each class and note deadlines to meet throughout the semester. Make a note of all your instructor’s or professors’ contact information to ensure that should you veer from your course of action, you can reach out to them for help. 

From there, you will have a general sense of how much time you need to spend on each course’s weekly tasks. 

Measurable: Aim for an A on graded assignments and tests

Measuring your success takes more than just reviewing your grades at the end of the term, especially if you want to have a hand in their outcome. Note all the graded assignments and tests throughout the term and aim for an A on each. 

Even if you don’t obtain an A, look to rework your study time to help you achieve higher next time. Remember, averages help to even out your overall mark, so don’t let one lousy grade get you down.

Attainable: Break up your weekly into a daily schedule 

Attainability looks different for everyone based on lifestyle. If you are a working student or heavily involved in your community, those activities may be just as high of a priority as a school. 

Breaking up your weekly and then daily schedule can help you conceptualize what a realistic amount of school looks like each day. Most likely, you’ll find more frequent 1-2 hours bouts of studying a lot more manageable than an 8-hour shift if you are busy with other things. 

Relevance: Set relevant goals in every aspect of your life

The relevancy of your goals goes hand and hand with specificity. For one, SMART goals aren’t just for school; you can set relevant goals in every aspect of your life to help keep your mindset on track.

Time-bound: Set smaller milestones throughout

The time crunch of due dates can be one of the best motivators, so why not apply it to your goals? Don’t let the semester get away from you

By setting smaller milestones throughout, you will better understand where you are going and how to get there. Even if you don’t meet a deadline one week, take each Monday as a chance to reconfigure your smaller goals.

Michelle Marie King

Michelle Marie King

Philanthropist | Founder, Positive Presence Global | Podcast Host, “Positive Presence with Michelle Marie King”

Create an evening and morning to-do list

SMART goals are so individualized. To make them successful, they have to be measurable. When we have measurability in our goals, something we can check off, our minds get affirmed that we’re on the right track. 

This reward keeps us committed to the goal. For example, if you find you forget to charge your school-issued electronic device, gym shoes, or instrument, make a list on the weekend of everything you need each day. 

Checking boxes makes our minds happy

Print it out on fun paper or color it with fun doodles, so you enjoy looking at it. Tape the paper where you keep your backpack at home. That way, you will see what you need to do and can check it off your list, so you’re ready to go.

Use tools that bring you joy

Using tools that we actually enjoy is the foundation of success. Create a list of the tools you use the most or are excited to use. Are they fun penscolorful journalsstickers, or particular apps on your electronic device? 

Use the tools that make you happy, and they will contribute to accomplishing your goals. Likewise, if you have pens that you don’t like or hate the color black, for example, stop using black pens!

Write down one thing you need to achieve each day to accomplish that task

Don’t be afraid to think of an unimaginable future, goals that seem out of reach and totally crazy. Take what seems huge and break it down into daily advancements.

Let’s say you want to get into a specific college. Find out when the admission date is. Put that on your calendar. That is the date you will work backward from. Make a list of the admission requirements. 

Put one requirement on your calendar for each month or week leading up to your admission date. Write down one thing you need to achieve each day to accomplish that task. Be realistic about how much time you can give each day

Be sure to factor in how much time your homework, chores, or outside job will take each day. If you only have 15 minutes, break it down into smaller tasks to make it an attainable and measurable goal you can do once daily.

Nicole Alioto, Ph.D.

Nicole Alioto

Owner, Alla Breve Educational Consulting LLC

SMART goals should be specificmeasurableattainablerelevant, and time-bound, and they may look different depending on the student’s age level. 

For grades 7 to 12 students

For example, a student in grades 7-12 should have a goal with a shorter time frame to make it attainable and relevant to what they need based on their educational experience and/or age level. 

Increase the amount of time reading nonfiction material

For example, “By February 2023, I will increase my time reading nonfiction material by 50% over my August 2022 baseline.” 

We know students need more practice with nonfiction reading (specific and relevant), and whether they read nonfiction booksmagazines, or manuals will help their success after high school. 

Also, a student may know it is essential to increase the amount of time, but the student may need to measure how much is being read now to determine what a 50% increase looks like. 

Related: The Benefits of Reading

For college students

Have 50 additional professional contacts on LinkedIn

For college students, a longer-term goal may be appropriate and attainable. For example, “By August 2023, I will have 50 additional professional contacts on LinkedIn.” 

Again, we are specific and relevant in that we are talking about professional contacts, not personal, LinkedIn, and not other social media platforms. An increase is possible within a year, even if someone doesn’t already have a profile.

Related: How to Network on LinkedIn

Beth Napleton

Beth Napleton

CEO, Beth Napleton Consulting

SMART goals are a perfect topic given the start of the school year and everyone’s desire to move on from the pandemic. As an accomplished educator (including as a teacher, principal, and network CEO), I’ve included a few examples below that are great SMART goals for students in our post-covid world.

Build on your strengths

Sometimes when we think of goals, we want to focus on what we’re not good at.

However, research shows that when we build on our strengths, our ability to achieve soars: investing our time and energy into an area of strength yields far more payoff than when we put the same time and energy into areas we struggle with. 

With that in mind, set SMART goals that build on Strengths like:

  • By the end of this school year, I will ace the Advanced Placement French exam with a score of four or higher.
  • My poetry will be published in at least two places by the end of the school year.

Remember the process — because it matters!

It is a great way to focus on ensuring you get better

Setting goals around achievements are great and can be very motivating. It’s possible effort matters even more because students are creating muscle memory on how to approach the goals that will serve them long beyond this school year. 

Creating SMART goals around skills you want to be a part of your life is a great way to focus on ensuring you get better — and unlike achievement, which can be hard to influence or ensure you achieve, an effort is always within one’s zone of influence.

Related: How to Stay Focused on Your Goals

Create a set of flashcards for key terms and practice with them

Before every test, I will create a set of flashcards for key terms and practice with them every night for at least ten minutes for a week. When I am confused by something, I will ask the teacher for help.

Elodie Santoro, LMHC

Elodie Santoro

Clinical Director & CEO, Harmony Outpatient

SMART goals are a great way to help students with their academic success. They help students set clear and attainable goals that they can work towards. SMART Goals can help students with their gradestest scores, and personal lives

Finish the first half of my homework before bedtime every night

They have been shown to have a positive impact on both student achievement and student motivation. 

The following are some good examples of SMART Goals for students:

  • I will read one book this summer.
  • I will finish the first half of my homework before bedtime every night.
  • I will write down three things that make me happy every day.
  • I will complete my homework on time every day by 8 pm.
  • I will read ten books by the end of this month.
  • I will complete my math homework before school starts next week.
  • I will do 30 minutes of physical activity every day by the end of next week.

SMART goals are one of the most effective tools for students to reach their academic and personal goals. One of the most critical aspects of SMART goals is that they should be attainable and measurable

This means that students would have to set a goal that can be achieved in a short amount of time with some effort. Students should not only set SMART goals for themselves but also their parents and teachers.

SMART goals are a powerful tool to help students reach their academic potential. They provide a clear path of what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it.

Franceen San Andres

Franceen San Andres

Growth Manager, CocoLoan

Attend seminars or workshops to gain skills

One of the SMART goals that students can set is widening their arsenal. Studying hard and having outstanding grades and a great understanding of the lectures is good

However, there are skills that companies are looking for, even if you are just a fresh graduate. This can be a soft or hard skill. 

Soft skill is something that can be learned while attaining hard skills. To acquire hard skills that can be used when applying for jobs in the future, attend seminars or workshops offering certifications. There are cheap or even free tutorials that release certificates. 

This certificate testifies that you have the skills stated in it. While learning these hard skills, you can learn soft skills like communication, troubleshooting, negotiating skills, and more. 

Gain real-life experience in the real corporate world

Who says students should only learn in theory? Even though theoretical knowledge is good, it is also vital that students have a real-life experience of the real corporate world as soon as possible. 

Students should at least have an idea of what career they want to pursue or what they want to become in the future. Based on this, they can choose which company or jobs they should have experience with, even as a student. 

This is an excellent goal to set since they can learn and earn at the same time through this approach. It is said that experience is the best teacher

Some lessons cannot be learned with just the four corners of the classroom and can only be instilled in the students’ minds by experiencing them firsthand. There is a systematic way of immersing oneself through on-the-job training or an actual job in an organization. 

It can be measured in a way that your direct superior can quantify the difference between when you have just been hired and when you are already accustomed to the role you are entrusted with.

Fernando Lopez

Fernando Lopez

Marketing DirectorCircuit

Study programming X hours daily for the next four weeks

Simply setting a goal to “study more” does not usually turn your Cs into As because it’s too broad to define and challenging to stick to over the long run.

Is studying 30 minutes a day sufficient, or 15 minutes one day, 45 another, and skipping a few in between? 

  • Specific: I’m only studying programming during this time.
  • Measurable: I’ll use a time tracking app to measure my daily progress.
  • Attainable: I have X hours available daily to commit to studying.
  • Relevant: These hours will help me increase my class marks.
  • Time-Based: I’ll complete my goal in 4 weeks. 

The beauty of the SMART study goal is that it’s specific enough to keep you accountable. When you know you only need to stick to the goal for four weeks, keeping the end in sight can help you push through the days you don’t feel like studying. 

Once you get through that resistance, you’ll often find yourself naturally holding onto the habit long after completing your SMART goal.

This goal can be effectively applied across any courses or subjects that are challenging for a student. They can also be “renewed” for as many weeks as it takes for a student to reach their learning goals. 

Ben Michael

Ben Michael

Attorney, Michael & Associates

Apply to two jobs per week in the last three months of school

Students start to get stressed about the job hunt when graduation looms in a few months or even summer break. 

Common responses are to either procrastinate and push the thought of applying to jobs aside (focusing 100% on current schoolwork) or applying to many jobs at a fast pace (neglecting current schoolwork). 

I think it’s an excellent idea for students to set a SMART goal for applying to jobs so that they can put the appropriate amount of time and effort toward both job hunting and school.

Related: When Should College Seniors Start Looking and Applying for Jobs?

A SMART goal might look like this: “In my last three months of school, I will apply to 2 jobs per week.” 

This goal hits all of the target marks for being a SMART goal:

  • It is specific about how many jobs will be applied and the timeframe under which that falls. 
  • It is measurable because you know the time frame and the number of jobs you will apply to.
  • It is achievable because it is only two applications per week.
  • It is realistic because only applying to 2 per week still allows you to focus on schoolwork.
  • It is timely because of its set time frame. 

Maciek Kubiak

Maciek Kubiak

Head of People, PhotoAiD

Improve grades by the end of the semester 

Whether you’re going from C to A or D to B, this is a specificmeasurable, attainablerelevant, and time-bound goal. In fact, this is a perfect example of a SMART goal.

Read one hour per day 

This is a specific and measurable goal. While it may not be realistic for all students, it nonetheless meets all the criteria of SMART. It might be ambitious, but reading is one of the things all students should be doing anyway.

Get involved in extracurricular activities 

This goal is definitely attainable and relevant for many students. Involvement in extracurricular activities has been shown to improve social skills and grades. 

It is also something employers take a keen interest in when hiring recent graduates since extracurricular activities are essential for developing one’s leadership and teamwork skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important for students to set SMART goals?

Setting SMART goals is important for students because:

Focus: It helps them maintain a clear sense of direction and concentrate their efforts on what truly matters.

Motivation: SMART goals boost motivation by providing a roadmap to success and a sense of accomplishment.

Accountability: Clearly defined goals encourage students to take ownership of their progress and achievements.

Self-awareness: By setting SMART goals, students learn to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth.

Growth mindset: The process of setting and achieving goals fosters a belief in the power of effort and persistence.

Time management: With specific deadlines, students can prioritize tasks and allocate time more effectively.

Skill development: Working towards SMART goals helps students develop essential life skills such as self-discipline, resilience, and problem-solving.

How can students set their own SMART goals?

To set their own SMART goals, students should follow these steps:

Reflect: Encourage students to reflect on their interests, values, and current performance to identify areas they would like to improve or explore further.

Be specific: Help students articulate clear and concise goals, outlining exactly what they want to achieve.

Break it down: Have students break down their goals into smaller, manageable tasks or milestones, which can make the overall objective feel more attainable.

Make it measurable: Ensure that each goal includes clear criteria for success, allowing students to track their progress and evaluate their achievements.

Set deadlines: Encourage students to establish realistic time frames for their goals, helping them stay focused and maintain a sense of urgency.

How often should students update their SMART goals?

Students should regularly review and update their SMART goals, ideally at the start of each academic term or semester. This allows them to assess their progress, celebrate their achievements, and adjust as needed. 

Regular revisions help students stay engaged with their goals and adapt to any changes in their interests or circumstances.

How can parents and teachers help students with their SMART goals?

Parents and teachers play a crucial role in supporting students with their SMART goals by:

Encouraging reflection: Foster open conversations about students’ interests, aspirations, and areas for improvement.

Providing guidance: Help students craft SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Offering resources: Provide access to materials, tools, and opportunities that can support students in achieving their goals.

Monitoring progress: Regularly check in with students to discuss their progress, address any challenges, and celebrate their achievements.

Providing feedback: Offer constructive feedback and encouragement to help students stay motivated and committed to their goals.

What are some common challenges students face while setting SMART goals?

While setting and achieving SMART goals, students may encounter challenges such as:

Lack of clarity: Students may struggle to articulate specific goals, making it difficult for them to focus and measure progress.

Unrealistic expectations: Setting goals that are too ambitious or unattainable can lead to frustration and disappointment.

Procrastination: Students might postpone working on their goals due to distractions, lack of motivation, or fear of failure.

Insufficient support: A lack of resources, guidance, or encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers can hinder students’ progress.

Resistance to change: Students may struggle to adapt to their goals in response to new interests, challenges, or opportunities.

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