Realistic Educational Goals And Examples

By Sky Ariella
Aug. 9, 2022

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The greatest educational goal you can set is to get an education, but setting smaller goals within that will help you make the most of your time in school. In addition, getting in the habit of setting and meeting goals will help you be successful throughout your career and life.

In this article, you’ll learn more about educational goals, see some examples of good, realistic educational goals, and learn good ways to set and achieve your goals.

Key Takeaways

  • Accomplishing educational goals will enhance your education and expand your skillset.

  • Educational goals can include anything from joining an extracurricular activity to building a portfolio to taking regular time to relax and unwind.

  • SMART educational goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Realistic Educational Goals and Examples

What Are Educational Goals?

Educational goals are defined objectives that you plan to meet in a specified amount of time while studying. Accomplishing educational goals strengthens your overall academic profile and instills helpful skills that you’ll bring to future employment.

The purpose of setting educational goals is to train students to devise a plan of action for goal-setting and improving their knowledge in the field. Achieving educational goals furthers a student’s overall competency.

Examples of Realistic Educational Goals

Educational goals are more than just graduating from a certain school or program — they’re goals that you can work toward while you’re in that school or program that will help you make the most of your time there.

  1. Improve your GPA. A student’s grade point average is a crucial statistic when applying to higher education or even applying for jobs. Deciding to improve upon your GPA requires taking all classes more seriously and getting higher grades overall. This is one of the most common educational goals throughout a student’s career.

  2. Build a portfolio. Building a portfolio is important to landing jobs when you’re working towards a career in an industry that relies heavily on examples of talent. Establishing and adding to your portfolio is a great educational goal because it helps you land a position once you’ve graduated.

  3. Join an extracurricular activity. While finding the time to accomplish just our baseline responsibilities can be a stretch, joining an extracurricular activity should still be on your educational bucket list. Joining an extracurricular activity broadens your perspective, gives you valuable skills, and looks great on a resume.

  4. Get a part-time job. Educational goals don’t have to directly involve school at all. Some students need some extra cash to comfortably afford to be a student, and in that case, getting a part-time or online job is a very useful goal.

  5. Be more positive. It’s easy to get down on yourself after receiving a few bad grades or crumbling under university pressure. However, a negative mindset causes ripple effects in your productivity and interpersonal life. Being more positive can be an excellent goal for stressed-out students.

  6. Accomplish a project ahead of time. You may be surprised to find out how great it feels to finish a big project before the due date. Many classes that expect students to finish a large project by the end of the course give enough resources to complete it before it’s due.

    Submitting a project early, even a few days, provides some much-needed relaxation and sets you apart from your classmates for preparedness.

  7. Introduce yourself to someone new. It’s hard to get through the long hours of studying for finals and the pressure of graduating on time without friends. Another goal that can improve your school experience and in general life is introducing yourself to someone new. You might just make a friend for life.

  8. Cease a bad habit. Everyone has their own brand of poison when it comes to bad habits, and working on yours can be a great educational goal. Whether you’re smoking, biting your nails, or procrastinating, stopping these behaviors have a positive effect on your work.

  9. Read an unassigned book. Reading books deepens your knowledge on particular subjects and requires you to stick to it until the end. The clear-cut timeline for finishing a book makes it a good option as an educational goal.

  10. Study for an extra thirty minutes every night. A half an hour doesn’t seem like enough time to accomplish anything grand, but the daily implementation of this study time can significantly improve your school performance.

  11. Get up an hour earlier on weekdays. Committing to waking up an extra hour early every morning sounds like a major drag to most people, but it can strengthen your productivity and make your mornings go a lot smoother. If you put this extra hour to good use, it upgrades your whole day.

  12. Improve your soft skills. Excelling in school is about more than just doing well on assignments and showing up to class. Soft skills contribute to your educational and professional success, as well. Working towards improving a skill, like time-management or communication, has major benefits for your academic performance.

  13. Attend an event relevant to your studies. Most industries host events for individuals who work in the field to grow their professional network. Find some in your area and pick the events that are most relevant to the career you’re working towards.

  14. Get an internship. Many students build up their resume and on-the-job abilities through an internship position. While attaining an internship slot is competitive, it’s definitely possible with the right preparation and realistic goal-setting.

  15. Participate in a study abroad semester. Studying for a semester in another country is not only fun but also a rich learning experience.

  16. Build rapport with a teacher in your major. In between acing tests and writing research papers, many students forget to create a meaningful relationship with the professors in their discipline.

    It’s important to get to know your professors because they’re the people that you’ll turn to for an academic reference letter in the future. Building rapport with a professor in your major is a good goal because it has long-term benefits for your career.

  17. Get an article published. Getting an article published is no small feat, but it’s still possible for eager students who want to make their mark on the written world and enhance their resume.

  18. Take a certification course. The best employees and students are the ones who continuously improve their skills. Taking a certification course or free online class takes your abilities in a particular area to the next level and makes for a positive educational goal.

  19. Find time to unwind. This example may go against the fiber of what most people consider useful goals, but it helps your work performance greatly. Everybody needs a break every once in a while. If you’re the kind of person who never stops working, this is a great goal for you.

  20. Start networking. A person’s career advancement relies on the foundation of their professional network. Initiating the educational goal of networking more has a long-term positive impact on your career and supply you with new opportunities.

  21. Build a website. In 2020, more business took place online than any year prior. Establishing a virtual presence is a good goal for anyone, but especially students who are close to graduation and applying for jobs.

  22. Make a LinkedIn profile. Professional networking websites have made it easier to expand your network and career. Most people who are active in their profession use resources, such as LinkedIn, to connect with others and build working relationships.

    Creating a LinkedIn profile makes you look more professional when applying to jobs and helps you to find new opportunities in your industry.

  23. Update your resume. Putting effort into crafting your resume and keeping it updated is a productive educational goal because it’s working towards the big picture of your future career. Do some research on what a great resume looks like and edit yours accordingly to stand out in the job application process.

  24. Take an elective class just for fun. Find a course that sounds interesting and take it — even if it has nothing to do with your degree plan. Art, foreign language, or even science classes can be fun ways to add some variety to your schedule and will help you round out your education.

Other Good Goals

While these goals may not be purely educational, they’ll help you both in school and professional settings:

  • Practice time management. There are only so many hours in the day, and managing those hours effectively is the difference between a healthy work-life balance and a continuous hectic scramble of last-minute hand-ins.

    To that end, start setting mini-goals each day, week, and month with schedules. Set reminders for yourself to complete important tasks and get a head start on other projects when you have free time in your schedule.

  • Take more effective breaks. Getting stuff done is great and all, but trying to spend 100% of your time completing goals will quickly lead to burnout. Most experts recommend about 10 minutes of break time each hour, but there are plenty of other methods for breaking up your time.

    Whatever break schedule works for you, try to avoid screens and (possibly) stressful activities, like reading the news or browsing social media. Stretch and walk around if you’ve been sitting for a while and give your eyes time to relax.

  • Find a mentor. Having an educational or career mentor is an incredibly valuable thing. And if you’re a college student, you have one of the most unique and special opportunities you’ll have in your life just by having access to the campus’ staff.

    Beyond professors, start to consider who’s in your area that can provide insight into your area of interest. Informational interviews, job-shadowing experiences, and networking events are all chances to meet a more seasoned professional who can provide first-hand advice.

    Armed with their advice, you’ll be able to make even smarter goals in the future.

How to Make Educational Goals SMART

Regardless of your goals, you should try applying the SMART method:

  • Specific. Describe exactly what you want to achieve, rather than using vague language. For example, instead of saying “Improve my grades,” write down “Achieve a 3.5 GPA this semester.”

    If your goal involves more moving parts, you can also mention the who, where, when, and why of your goal. Who’s help will you need, where will you get this done, and why are you doing it are usually minor questions.

    But do pay specific attention to the “when.” Creating a specific timeline for specific goals helps keep you accountable

  • Measurable. Numbers are great because they help answer the question “did I do what I set out to do?” While not all goals can be measured precisely, try to set up your plan with a system in place for tracking progress.

    Not only will this tell you that your plan is working (or not), but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment as you move forward.

  • Achievable. Being realistic is key. Goals that are way outside of your reach will almost certainly lead to frustration. And it’s easier to walk away from a goal that’s impossible.

  • Relevant. Think about the over-arching goals of your educational experience. While it can be hard to know exactly what you want to do with your life when you’re in college (or even when you’re out of it), give some thought to what you hope to gain out of your degree program.

    Then, make sure that all of your smaller goals align with that grander vision.

  • Time-bound. Deadlines keep you accountable to yourself. Time is the second variable, along with whatever unit of measurement or metric you’ve decided is most indicative for tracking the progress of your goal.

    This helps you determine whether your goal-setting and procedure for achievement was efficient as well as effective.

Here’s more information about setting SMART goals.

Tips For Setting Educational Goals

Goal-setting is personal to each individual student. Deciding what goals benefit your career path most is not always straightforward.

To assist in the process of setting realistic educational goals, review the following tips:

  1. Outline a path to success. A mistake that many students make when setting their educational goals is that they are too ambiguous. “Doing better in school” is not a measurable goal, and therefore, it will be impossible to complete or define success. Describe the details of what the goal is and the steps it takes to ultimately accomplish it.

    For example, instead of stating that your goal is to do better in school, decide which classes you need to work in, how many points you want your grade to improve by in these subjects, and a plan to accomplish it.

  2. Check-in on a schedule. Achieving an educational goal isn’t as simple as getting from point A to B. In larger goals, specifically, there are often many steps to take before reaching success. Goals like these require checking in on a schedule to see if you’re on track to accomplishing it according to your initial plan.

    When detailing a plan for achieving your educational goals, including a timeline for how often you intend to check-in. For shorter projects, check in on a daily or weekly basis. For larger educational goals, assess your growth every couple of months at least.

  3. Be realistic. Setting realistic goals is important because otherwise, you run the risk of wasting time on an objective that’s out of reach. Before committing to an educational goal, assess your skills and time constraints to make sure you won’t be overextending.

  4. Understand that it’s okay for plans to change. Even with a wealth of preparation and a clearly outlined plan, sometimes the unexpected arises. Needing to alter your plans for meeting a goal doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. If anything, it gives you the chance to improve upon an additional skill of problem-solving.

    Have an open mind when you’re working on educational goals and understand that a change in plan isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  5. Be open to failure. Although the word failure is the worst-case scenario for most students when setting educational goals, avoid this mindset.

    You shouldn’t give up on a goal without ample consideration and consultation with a trusted mentor, but sometimes it happens. Be open to failure because this experience might teach you more than success would have.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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Topics: Education, Study