There is a lot of information out there about how to best prepare for college. Because college plans are so different for everyone, it is important that you make your own goals to get you to where you want to be. You may have heard this before and even if you have—take a look at how to create SMART goals for college and check out example goals to get you started on making your own.

Make your college goals SMART:

Specific – Answer the 5 W’s: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Measurable – Think about setting clear checkpoints so that you know how far you’ve come and how much you still have to do to reach your goal. How will you keep track of your progress and when you complete it?

Achievable – Is your goal reasonable? In other words, is it something you can achieve realistically?

Relevant – Make sure your goal applies to your current life priorities and interests.

Time-bound – Give yourself a deadline to complete your goals. Have deadlines for your checkpoints leading to your bigger goals too. This way, you can hold yourself accountable to make sure you complete what you need to and avoid the stress of waiting until the last minute.

Tips for tailoring your college goals to YOU:

  • It’s important to think about when you want to attend college. Goals may change based on if you plan to attend college the school year immediately following graduation, in the summer, or after taking a short break. Look into specifics regarding your ACT score, Concurrent Enrollment courses, and AP classes specifically. Some scores do expire after a certain timeframe.
  • Your goals may also change depending on if you choose to go to a technical school, a two-year college, or a traditional university.
  • Think about your own future—where do you want to be in the next 3-5 years? What will help you get there? If you don’t know, ask your friends, parents, teachers, counselors, and advisors for their advice and possible career pathway suggestions.

Examples of goals to set to be college-ready include:

  • I will join an extracurricular group or club by the third week of school this year and attend at least 4 of their events per semester to strengthen my academic and professional resume.
  • I will visit with my counselor or advisor monthly during the school year to make sure I am staying on track to graduate.
  • I will meet with a math tutor once a week on Fridays for the entire semester to get at least a B in my math course.
  • I will apply for at least 10 scholarships by the end of the first semester of my senior year in high school to earn money for college.


Bonus Tip: utilize StepUp’s Grade-by-Grade Checklists to help develop some of your college-ready goals!