Setting Goals for College and Beyond

It's important to set goals for yourself in life, and certainly as a student. Get advice on how to go about setting them.

Why setting goals for college is importantBy: Susanna Cerasuolo, M.Ed.
Set some goals, and get to college!
It’s important to set goals for yourself in life, and certainly as a student.  Goals are powerful things, and we often forget how motivating they can be.
I think one of the first goals you should set for yourself is to go to college, or some kind of post-secondary education.  A four-year college isn’t for everyone, but a two-year college can be a great stepping stone to get there, and we will always need people in the tech and trade industries.  You will most likely need a college degree to get even an entry-level position in the very near future, as college diplomas are becoming what high school diplomas used to be, so think about that when you think about school.
Here are some things to keep in mind when setting a goal:
1.    Set a career goal for yourself
Dream up some possible careers that you could see yourself doing and start thinking about them early.  Talk to people who actually do that job for a living and see if it is a good fit for you. Think about the schooling that career requires, and then make a plan to get that schooling, no matter what.
2.    Picture yourself in that career
Visualizing yourself in your intended career is a VERY powerful tool for getting there. You need to see yourself wearing the doctor’s white coat and examining a patient, or standing in the courtroom as an attorney in a suit, or working in a lab designing a new car engine.  Picture yourself there, and cut out pictures from magazines to help you.  Hang these pictures in your room and look at them every day.  Remind yourself that that will be you one day.  Images are very powerful.
3.    Verbalize your goal
Tell yourself out loud that you are going to achieve your goal.  Say it loud, say it proud, and say it often.  You can do this, and when you tell yourself you can, you WILL!  We believe what we hear, and so you need to be your own number one cheerleader, no matter what anyone else may ever say, you tell yourself that you can get there and you don’t listen to anyone who might tell you that you can’t.  Ask family members and friends to encourage you to reach your goal.  Ask them to say nice things to you about how determined and smart you are, and how you can do anything you set your mind to.  You can also encourage yourself with the words fo famous people like Winston Churchill, who said it best: “Never, never, NEVER give up!”
4.    Break your goal into small steps
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step, and it is much easier to conquer any project when it is broken into small pieces.  So, break your goal down into what pieces you need to achieve.  That might look like this:

  1. Get the best grades I can in 9th and 10th grades
  2. Research schooling needed to become an engineer
  3. Talk to engineers and decide what type I want to do
  4. Research colleges good at that type of engineering
  5. Make a plan on CollegeMapper to apply to my colleges
  6. Study for the ACT and SAT and do my best
  7. Go to college
  8. Work hard in college and get best grades possible (and have fun!)
  9. Get dream job as engineer
  10. Become president of an engineering company

This is just an idea. All plans will look a little different, based upon what pieces you need to do.  Make your plan, though, because it’s very important to have a clear, step-by-step guide for what you need to do to achieve your dream.  WRITE IT DOWN and pin it up in your room and look at it often.  Focus on achieving one small piece at a time, and ask for any help or support you need at school, at the local Boys and Girls Club or library, and at home.  Then, most importantly, give yourself a reward for each step you achieve.  If you mess up on a small part, don’t be hard on yourself and never give up.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, adjust the plan, and KEEP GOING.
5.    You can change your goal and your plan as much as you want
Set a career goal for yourself and it doesn’t matter if you change it many times, just always have a goal and always be going somewhere!  When I was in high school I toyed with the idea of being an oceanographer instead of an English teacher, and then I thought about being a psychiatrist instead of an English teacher, and then I came back to my fourth grade favorite choice and became an English teacher.  The point is, it doesn’t matter if the goal changes, just always have a goal.  This is why you get up early to be on time to school.  This is why you do your homework.  This is what you are working so hard for, and you can do this!!
I believe in you, and I believe you can go to college and you can become whatever you want to become in life. You may be dreaming huge and pushing yourself far beyond your comfort zone, but you can do this. If you can dream it you can achieve it!


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