According to a recent study, students who had study goals performed better than those who did not. Somehow, setting goals helped them achieve more in their academics. What are study goals and how do they help the student? How do you set study goals?
Understanding why study goals are important
Setting goals is a vital step in achieving success in life. A goal is something that you aim for, something that you reach for, and something that you work for. A goal helps you set a mark and helps assess your progress as you go along. Without a goal, you will not have a very clear idea of where to go and which steps to take.
Study goals simply reflect your aspirations for your studies or the things that you are hoping to achieve in your studies. They serve as an excellent tool to keep you focused in your academics.
Setting your study goals
There are two kinds of goals: long-term and short-term. A long-term goal, as the name suggests, can be achieved over a longer period of time. A short-term goal can be accomplished in a shorter period time and is aligned with or is intended to result in realizing the long-term goal.
For example, you can set a long-term study goal of finishing your degree in four years. In order to reach that goal, you set short-term goals like setting aside a number of hours each day to study or passing the weekly quizzes or getting good grades in your exams.
Your study goals should be measurable. In other words, you need to provide parameters by which your goals can be gauged. For example, you can say, “In the next exam, I should aim for this grade,” or “By the end of this week, I should finish writing my paper.”
Formulating your action plan
So how does it work? First, you need to specify your long-term goal. After writing down your long-term goal, you can start making your action plan. This contains your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly (if applicable) study goals and the steps you will take to achieve them. The idea is to reach your ultimate goal by doing smaller and manageable steps as you go along. As the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is, “One bite at a time.” Your elephant is graduation, your short term goals are your bites.
Say, for example, your long-term goal is to graduate with a certain target GPA. To reach this goal, you have to make sure that the average of your grades for each semester will fall within your target GPA. If a particular subject weighs you down, then you can set short-term goals to improve on that subject, such as doing efficient note taking in class or focusing on particular topics during daily study hours or writing a brilliant paper to boost your grade.
After identifying your short-term goals, you can now make a daily schedule of activities to help you attain these goals. For example, if you need a higher grade in History because it is weighing you down, then you have to spend more study time for that subject. Perhaps you will also need more library time for research and further reading.
Creating a daily schedule not only helps you focus your activities; it also helps you identify time wasters. You will be amazed at how much more you can do in a day just by dropping certain habits and unnecessary activities. Discipline is of the utmost importance in following your schedule. If you are not used to following a daily schedule, then be prepared for a change in lifestyle.
Checking your progress
You can review your action plan against your study goals periodically so you can see which ones you were able to follow and which ones you were not able to do and why. This helps you monitor your progress in light of your short-term and long-term study goals.
Sometimes, circumstances will keep you from following your action plan, in which case you need to revise it to keep it aligned with your goals. The important thing is for you to keep going and maintain your focus on what you are hoping to achieve in your studies.
Many students grope their way through their academics, hoping to make it better but not really succeeding. If they only knew how to set study goals and formulate and apply their action plans, they would be able to get better grades and perform well in school. You can avoid this mistake. Study goals will help motivate you to do better in your studies.