Going off to college is an exciting time in your life, and you should celebrate it! It means you’re going to embrace new levels of independence and experience all the joys that come with that.
You can go out with your friends without having to ask for permission from anyone. If you want to study in the library or at a restaurant — or not study at all — no one is going to hound you to get your homework done. Since there’s so much more you can do with your increased freedom, it’s good to know how to set goals.
Whether you’re still counting down the days until you get to move in, or you’ve been in college for a while, knowing how to set goals for yourself will make your college experience worth the time and money you’re putting into it. As family and professors will tell you, you’re not just on campus to have fun. You’re there to prepare yourself for your future career and to learn as much as you can.
Read on for some tips on how to set goals in college while you’re also trying to juggle everything else, like schoolwork and your social life. It’s all too easy to become distracted by everything going on at school, but taking time to carve out some goals is so important. It could direct you to a new path you never would have taken without realizing what you were capable of.
1. Section Goals out by Years
No one is going to tell you this directly, but every year of college will teach you something different. Freshman year is for learning about independence, responsibility and self-care.
In sophomore year, things get a little more difficult, but you’re still mostly focused on your general electives. Junior year is when you decide what you want to focus your studies on, and then internships and senior year fall into place. If you section your goals by each year you’re in school, it’ll be easier to decide what those goals should be.
2. Think About Your Career
You’re studying for a purpose, and that purpose is to launch your future career. What is that going to be? What you decide to do will affect your goals. If you’re interested in becoming a doctor, you’ll need to set goals well beyond your bachelor’s degree. Something more art-oriented may only take those first four years.
You should also consider what your career will need to get started beyond the classroom. Will your degree be the most important, like for engineering jobs, or will you have to demonstrate your real-world experience through internships?
Setting a goal to complete at least one internship in both junior and senior year will help pad your resume and give you that much more of an edge over future job applicants you’ll be competing with.
3. Consider Your Post-College Future
Think about what you imagine yourself doing after college. Will you need a certain amount of money to get it done? Should you get a roommate, or even move out of state to begin your new life?
Everyone’s future looks a little different, so you’ll really have to think about what yours might look like.
Another goal you can set for yourself while you’re in college is to start learning basic life skills. As much as you will learn in school, but it’s up to you to learn life skills your coursework didn’t cover.
For example, you should know the basics of negotiating your salary and setting up your own insurance, if you haven’t already done that. It’s also good to know how to file taxes, since that’s probably not something you’ll learn in school.
If you go through your college years without setting goals, you’ll only check off homework assignments without accomplishing the real goal of college — getting prepared for the real world.
Learn as much as you can about your interests and passions during your early years, and then set more career-oriented goals for the later years. Once you decide what you want to do with your life, the goals you need to set will fall into place.
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