College is a unique and exciting experience that can provide incredible opportunities for personal growth. The transition from a structured academic environment to one with more independence can be difficult for some people. It is essential that you stay focused. Setting realistic goals will help you stay on track and achieve positive results.

Have a Plan

As George Harrison summarized the Cheshire Cat’s astute observation, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” In order to be successful, you must determine what you want to accomplish and identify the intermediate steps. Evaluate your unique situation and devise a plan that moves you along the right path.

You will need a combination of short and long-term goals. Examples include earning an “A” on your next chemistry exam or research paper and graduating with honors. Identify your obstacles and limitations. Determine whether you need to dedicate more time to your studies or if you need to use your time more efficiently.

Clearly Define Your Goals and Write Them Down

Your goals should be measurable, specific, realistic and documented. Reviewing element flash cards thirty minutes each day is a clearer goal than getting a better grade in chemistry. Set a short-term goal that will enable you to achieve the next higher grade on future assignments. Achieving a 4.0 average in one semester is probably unrealistic if you are currently having difficulties with the coursework. Each exam and research paper is a step along the road toward your goals.

After you achieve a major milestone, write it down and celebrate your accomplishment. Select rewards that will provide incentives for your effort and victories along the way. Examples include a weekend excursion, a spa treatment or a meal at a fine restaurant. This formal recognition of your achievements will serve as a visual record and reward for your determination. Review the list to keep yourself motivated and focused.

Set Priorities

Like good intentions, procrastination can pave the road to failure. Identify the activities that prevent you from accomplishing your goals. Learning to say no to yourself and others is a skill that you must develop. Some students spend too much time surfing the Internet, socializing with their friends and playing video games while others make commitments that delay work on important projects. After you determine how much time that your studies require, schedule time to volunteer your talents and participate in recreational activities. Setting your priorities will reduce stress and enable you to enjoy the college experience.

Stay Positive and Focused

Life does not stop just because you are in college. Some students attempt to solve their problems alone. If you encounter a problem that you cannot resolve, seek assistance from your college and personal network. Colleges offer academic and personal counseling as well as tutoring programs. Your family and friends can provide emotional support and help you stay focused.

Setting and documenting realistic short- and long-term goals will enable you to accomplish your academic objectives.