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Life > Academics

New Semester. New Goals

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Stevens chapter.

September is in full swing, meaning summer routines have transitioned to semester schedules. For many, the start of the semester can be an overwhelming time navigating our commitments; it’s a period where many of our previous “priorities” get pushed aside. 

There are only 24 hours a day, yet as college students there is an underlying expectation to try new things, cultivate friendships, and determine our interests all while pursing our degree. With limited time and many tasks on the to-do list, the start of the semester can be a time to reevaluate priorities. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals will help keep us focused, even during the overwhelming days (maybe weeks) during the semester.

What is a SMART Goal?

A specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related (SMART) method for establishing goals. It was first published in the Management Review (1981) and has become the standard for developing personal and professional goals. The framework assists in defining the parameters and ensures that the objective can be accomplished.

Goals that do not abide by the SMART framework are typically vague, difficult to track, and ultimately not achieved (think about past New Year’s Resolutions that were forgotten by mid-January). For many people, failure to achieve their goals results in a mentality that can negatively impact future motivation and performance. 

SMART goals are process-orientated (meaning you focus more on the journey, not the destination). They redirect your focus away from the end result and prioritize the effort that goes into accomplishing an objective. It may sound a bit tacky, but objectives help to recognize progress and maintain motivation towards achieving our goal. 

How to Create a SMART Goal

Let’s go through each of the letters so that you know how to create effective goals this semester!

S – Specific

Clearly state the goal so that there is no question about its objective. It helps to ask yourself two Ws so that there is an explicit focus on your efforts: 

1.     What do you want to accomplish? 

2.     Why is it important? 

M – Measurable

Establishing a measurement will quantify the objective. Associating numbers with your goal will allow you to track the progress of the process. Celebrating the “little” wins throughout the process keeps you motivated and focused on the end goal. 

A – Achievable

If you hope to accomplish your goal, it needs to be attainable. This is the point where you need to be honest with yourself and ask “Is this a realistic goal?”. Before you answer, understand your constraints and identify opportunities to improve. It is a balancing act to establish challenging goals that are not impossible to complete. 

At this step in the goal-making process, it is important to not minimize your abilities! Trying new things may cause you to expand upon your previous level of comfort; however, without goals that push the boundaries of what you are comfortable with, you cannot become a better version of yourself. 

R – Relevant

The goal you hope to accomplish needs to apply to the period of your life and future ambitions. It is ultimately your responsibility to achieve the goals you set. The relevance of a goal forces you to understand your values and maintain your focus on whatever is important to you. A broad outlook on your priorities and future plans will provide an understanding of how short-term goals help to later achieve your long-term goals. 

T – Time Bound

Set a deadline, a specific date on which you will evaluate if the goal was accomplished. As Robert Herjavec, an investor featured on the American ABC series Shark Tank, said, “A goal without a deadline is just a dream”. Creating a timeline will hold you accountable and focused on your goal. 

Creating SMART goals will help keep us focused on our short-term goals. When creating our schedules for the semester, we can evaluate what we want to achieve within the 3-4 months. Gaining an understanding of our priorities will help us to maintain a healthy balance in our lives. Our goals should be personal to us! I wish you the best during this overwhelming time and hope you achieve your goals in academics, athletics, health, or social aspects of your life. 

Emily Lynch

Stevens '25

Emily is a junior biomedical engineering student at Stevens Institute of Technology and pursuing a concentration in biomaterials and tissue engineering. In her free time she enjoys taking city trips to New York, trying new coffee shops, and reading.