Strategic Goals for a New Semester

By: Paul Rosario

Paul is a Peer for Career at the Starr Career Development Center and also works as the Director of Communications at the Transfer Student Organization.

With a fall semester full of surprises—the unexpected wrath of a hurricane and an additional few Sundays added to the academic calendar—many have realized the importance of planning ahead.

But of course planning is only as good as how well you create specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timed goals.

Here are a few steps you can use to write smart and effective goals.

Reflect on the entire year. Think about your successes and shortcomings.  Take out a sheet of paper and list at least four possible goals you would like to achieve in this semester.

Be SPECIFIC and not general.  For example, instead of saying you want to pass your Finance course, write you want to receive an A in your finance course.  This way, you can better assess the amount of effort needed to achieve your goal.

  • Answer the 5 W’s: Who is involved? What exactly do you want to accomplish and what are your obstacles?  When do you want to achieve your goal? And why do you want to achieve this goal?

MEASURE your progress. This helps you to stay on track and identify where you need to work harder.  In addition, when you actually see that you are making progress, it will motivate you to follow-through with your goal.

  • In revisiting the Finance course example, you can use exam scores, assignments, and participation as criteria to measure the progress of your goal.

Set ATTAINABLE steps towards reaching your goal. You need to decide on the route you want to take to your goal—whether this means more time studying, visiting the SACC Tutoring Center or meeting your professor during office hours.

REALISTIC goals are important because you need to dedicate the time and work to achieve them. Part of being realistic is being brutally honest with yourself. How successful are you in accomplishing your goal? Is this goal too ambitious to achieve in the time period? Is this goal less rewarding than you thought it would be?

TIME your goals. This allows a specific timeframe to complete your goal while keeping in mind additional obligations that others expect you to complete. But timing your goals well is crucial to staying committed and motivated in your pursuit.

  • Evaluate your progress during the process of achieving your goal by identifying issues of concern. Take a step back and assess if the route you are taking to your goal needs to be changed.
  • If you are successful in your goal think of specific reasons why. Were you able to meet each step in the SMART goal? If you were not successful think about what step you may need to work on and come up with a new goal!

As the spring semester begins, we wish you the best of luck and advise that all students set one or two SMART goals. Whether they are personal, professional, or a mixture of both. Goals are keys to an enriching your college career.



  1. Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review, Volume 70, Issue 11(AMA FORUM), pp. 35-36.
  2. Meyer, Paul J (2003). “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals”Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond. Meyer Resource Group, Incorporated, The. ISBN 978-0-89811-304-4.