A goal is something that you want to accomplish at some defined point in the future. There are generally two types of goals, short-term goals and long-term goals. Short-term goals are goals you want to achieve in the near future and long-term goals are those you want to achieve in the future. Setting realistic goals and accomplishing them is the key to achieving academic success.

For your goals to be appropriate they need to be in line with what you desire to accomplish academically – they must be clear and measurable, otherwise the effort you put towards achieving your goals will lack direction and focus. In preparing your academic goals follow "The Three W's of Goals".

The Three W's of Goals


Write down each of your goals. The key to accomplishing goals can be putting pen to paper. Writing your goals down forces you to clarify exactly what it is that you want to accomplish and will motivate you to take action towards achieving success. Writing them down also ensures that you don't get distracted by other opportunities and events. Accomplishing goals is difficult, and those most worthy will face resistance. Making a note of them will help you to overcome resistance and stay focused on what's most important. Finally, writing down your goals ensures that you know what you’re going to accomplish and when it's to be completed.


If you don't know what you want, you won't know what you need in order to achieve it. Each goal you set should state exactly what you expect to accomplish. Vague tasks that lack focus, and are not measurable, are ineffective and difficult to achieve success from.


You need to identify when you'll accomplish each goal. Realistic end results have realistic deadlines and without deadlines are far less likely to be achieved. Setting a realistic deadline forces you to think about what it will take to accomplish the desired end result. A realistic deadline will help you prioritise what work must be done. Finally, setting a realistic deadline will push you to stay on pace so that you complete your goal.

Characteristics of good goals include the following:


Setting goals that are so lofty that there is only a slight chance you'll be able to achieve them is not part of effective goal setting. Make sure the goals you set push you to excel but are well within your skillset and ability to accomplish.


Setting a goal to get straight A's when you're approaching the end of the term and failing most of your classes may not be realistic. A realistic goal may be to pass all your classes and get a few A's and B's.


Good goals are measurable. A goal to improve your performance in maths is an example of an ineffective goal. Setting a goal to get an A on your next maths exam in order to move your grade from 75% to 83% is a measurable goal that is achievable and realistic.


Don't set such rigid goals that you can't modify your goal if circumstances change. Also, set goals that allow you to achieve some success even if you don't achieve your entire goal.

Ultimately, you want to set goals that will provide you direction and motivation to succeed academically.