APU Careers & Learning Online Learning Original

Setting SMART Goals for Your Online Education Experience

By Tracey Ramey
Senior Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison

Having a clear understanding of your personal goals creates a foundation for what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish in life. Similarly, as you progress through your academic journey, it’s important to regularly reflect on your short- and long-term goals.

However, it is first necessary to create a list of the objectives you want to reach. One helpful way to build those goals for your academic journey is to remember the SMART acronym – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

5 Tips for Setting SMART Goals

Setting SMART goals requires some self-reflection. Here are five tips to consider:

  1. Be specific regarding your goals. Consider the “who, what, why and how” surrounding a goal. Who needs to be involved? What do you want to achieve? Why is this goal important to you? How can you accomplish it?
  2. To stay organized, devise a concrete way to measure your progress. Think about what methods you can use to track your progress. For instance, you can use a calendar or set up a reward system for celebrating when you achieve certain academic objectives.
  3. Create achievable goals. You want to be able to celebrate your accomplishments, so consider if the goal you have created is possible given the time you have. It could mean carving out extra time for a goal you are very passionate about or setting smaller mini-goals that you’re sure you can accomplish.
  4. Be honest with yourself and think about realistic goals. Goals do not have to be easy, but they should be achievable. Be sure you have the skillset and resources that you’ll need to meet your goals. Don’t try to meet those goals when your life is unusually busy and you’re stressed; you want to set yourself up for success, not failure.
  5. As an adult learner, you face multiple responsibilities. Ensure you have built timely goals that have clearly defined target dates. Also, be sure you have enough free time available in your life to achieve your goals.

As you progress through your academic journey and through life, remember to revisit your goals on a regular basis. Sometimes, those goals might need some extra tweaking if unexpected events come up in your life.

Related link: University Resources to Help You with COVID-19 Burnout

Consider Joining the ClearPath Mentoring Program for Extra Help

If you have difficulty with goal setting or creating SMART goals, consider joining the ClearPath mentoring program. Your ClearPath mentor can serve as a resource for discussing your academic goals and your progress towards them.

Your ClearPath profile’s objectives section provides space to outline your goals and plans in a SMART format. That information will help your mentor to motivate you and encourage your academic and personal growth.

For more information about the ClearPath mentoring program or to get started as a mentee, contact mentor@apus.edu today!

Related link: The Crucial Questions You Should Ask Your ClearPath Mentor

Tracee Ramey has been with the University since 2007, holding various positions such as Learning Outcomes Assessment Specialist, Student Affairs Coordinator and Commencement Coordinator. Tracee currently works closely with the University Directory and the ClearPath mentoring program, helping students and alumni connect to build meaningful relationships. Tracee received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from American Military University in 2015.

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