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Help Your Student Write SMART Academic Goals


A new semester means a fresh start for many students.   It’s the ideal time to sit down and develop SMART academic goals.  SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.    They help you identify not just what you want but also why you want it, how you are going to get it, and how you know when you’ve got it.  Having a complete and clear picture makes the goal more realistic and attainable.  Sit down with your student and ask these important questions to give him a valuable lesson in acting intentionally towards achieving a desirable outcome.

  1. Specific.  What do you want to accomplish?    What are the requirements?   What are the obstacles or constraints?
  2. Measurable.  What will you measure?  How will you know when you have met your goal? How will you know when the goal is accomplished?
  3. Achievable.  Is your goal attainable?  How can the goal be accomplished?  What are the logical steps to take to achieve your goal?   Do you have the necessary resources to accomplish this goal?
  4. Relevant.  Why is the goal important to you?  Is it a worthwhile goal?     Why is this goal important to your future?
  5. Timely.  How long will it take to accomplish this goal?  When is the completion of this goal due? When am I going to work on this goal?

Many students will say that they have a goal to do better in math class.  Let’s take a look at what that would look like as a SMART goal.

“By the end of the 3rd Quarter, I will have an 85% in Algebra 2.  I will achieve this goal by turning in all homework assignments and scoring 80% or better on my tests.  I will make sure that I ask questions to the teacher or my classmates when I don’t understand.  If I still do not understand, I will seek additional help outside of school until I do understand.  I will practice for math exams by working problems until I know the concepts well enough to apply them, and I will give myself at least 4 nights to prepare for the tests. I will know that I can apply the problems when I have done at least two problems correctly without looking at an example or asking for help. Having a high score in Algebra 2 will improve my GPA, will look better to colleges, and will give me a better foundation for future math classes.”