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Goal-Setting 101: How Students Can Set Goals for the New School Year

goal-setting 101

As the summer winds down, students are ready to head into the new academic year with fresh school supplies and a fresh mindset. This is the perfect time for them to reflect on past achievements and set new goals for the year ahead. In fact, students who set goals focus their efforts, remain disciplined, and achieve greater success, both academically and personally. Let’s explore how students can use goal-setting to have the best school year ever!

Reflect on Last Year

A large part of goal-setting is looking at how far you’ve come. Encouraging your students to reflect on the previous year allows them to identify areas of strength, challenges that may arise, accomplishments they made, and the areas they’d like to improve. This reflection can pave the way for an empowering, eye-opening discussion.

Set SMART Goals

Once your students have spent time reflecting, they’re ready to set their goals. Many people prefer using the SMART criteria for goal-setting to ensure their aspirations are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Goals that follow this model often provide clear direction and act as a roadmap to success. Here’s how it all comes together: 
  • Specific: Instead of choosing a broad goal, such as getting better in one particular subject, students should opt for a specific area of improvement, such as raising their grade from a B to an A. 
  • Measurable: Concrete metrics can help students track their progress, such as raising their grades by 5%. 
  • Attainable: Their goals should be realistic, yet challenging, and should take their resources and skill levels into account. 
  • Relevant: Their goals should also align with their interests. 
  • Timebound: Deadlines for each goal will create a sense of urgency and accountability.

Prioritize & Focus

When your students begin goal-setting, they’ll probably have multiple ideas. While we always encourage ambition and having a growth mindset, trying to work toward too many goals at once can lead to burnout. Instead, students should choose a few key goals that truly matter to them. This will help them channel their efforts and stay focused through it all.

Create an Actionable Plan

Larger goals can seem daunting at first. Breaking them down into smaller steps and milestones can help students celebrate progress. They’ll also be motivated to continue working diligently. From seeking additional resources to tracking progress regularly, concrete steps can be exactly what they need for continued success.

Stay Accountable

Accountability is absolutely essential for goal-setting. We want our students to share their aspirations with friends, family, or adults on campus who can support them along the way. When they feel like they have a team rooting for them, students are all the more likely to stay motivated.

Be Flexible!

Sometimes, the path to one’s goals can be rocky. Challenges will arise, unexpected obstacles might come up, and self-doubt may creep in. Students have to stay adaptable and be ready to embrace learning opportunities as they come. This will help them be resilient in the face of adversity in all areas of their lives.

Final Thoughts

Goal-setting for the upcoming school year is a great way for students to close out the summer. From reflecting on previous accomplishments and challenges to learning how to be adaptable, they can put themselves on the path to successful academic and personal growth. Even if they feel like they’ve regressed over the summer, encourage them to be kind to themselves during this process. Your students will then be able to cultivate a growth mindset that will serve them in the classroom and beyond.


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