How to Set Academic Goals for Yourself
Common core education in America ensures that children receive a standardized education that is at least equal to that of their peers. While common core will prepare you to achieve the basic skills needed to do well in college or university, depending on your highly personalized goals, you will need to reach beyond what common core can provide you. Your school day should not end when the bell rings. Depending on your goals, you may need to take extra-curricular programs like Kumon Math, or hire an academic coach or tutor to help you excel in your academic goals and to make sure that you are on the path to success.
The vast majority of goals, especially in academia, are not impossible to achieve. They just take careful planning and dedication. While it is near impossible to win the Fields Medal in Math, or the Nobel Prize in Literature (these are more left to chance than merit), other seemingly unattainable goals like becoming a doctor or a tenured university professor are actually realistic goals and can be achieved through hard work and dedication. You just need to map out your progression to achieve your goals. An academic coach is there to help you find the best path for you.
Doctors must do well in pre-med during their undergraduate degree, gain acceptance to medical school, become a resident at a teaching hospital, and become certified as a doctor to complete this goal. To become a tenured professor, you must obtain a PhD in your desired field, publish scholarly papers, and apply to a university to teach. After a number of years, you can become tenured by your institution. For some, this may seem easy to do, but for others, this can be a daunting task and it may seem impossible to find a logical starting point.
Listed below are several examples of how you can create academic goals to help you achieve your wildest dreams.
Split your goals up in terms of whether you can achieve them in the short-term or long-term. Although you will have to make progress daily in your goals to eventually achieve them, it will help you to stay organized if you separate them first. It is important that you identify which tasks are important in the immediate, and which ones require long-term effort in order to achieve. Think, next week's essay vs. achieving a high grade on your MCAT. Both are equally as important, but are completed at different paces.
The necessary preparation work for college or university actually starts in high school. You need to set a stable foundation for learning if you want to fully take advantage of your undergraduate career. You probably have a desired career path in mind. Work backwards from your eventual goal and determine which high school courses will help you prepare to achieve it. If you want to become a mathematician, you will need to excel in all your high school mathematics courses. If you want to work in the United Nations, you will need to excel in all your high school history, political science, and English classes. Taking a foreign language class is also helpful. In addition, taking Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes in high school will allow you to learn at a college-level while still in high school. If you take these courses, they will seem hard at first, but you will be better prepared for your classes once you arrive at college or university.
Now that you have a desired career path in mind, write down the trajectory needed to achieve it. One effective technique to visualize your future success is to draw this trajectory on a piece of bristol board, complete with pictures suitable to each step (for instance, place a picture of a doctor under the “Medical School” step). If you hang this bristol board on your wall, you will be reminded of your goals every time you are in your room. This simple technique goes a long way to helping you stay motivated and dedicated to achieving your goals. We learn a lot more effectively when we can visualize the material and our overall goals.
Now that you have chosen the courses you need in high school, look at the syllabus handed out in the first class, and any assignment rubrics you have received after that. Plot out all your assignment due dates on your calendar. Then, working back from each due date to the present day, break up each assignment into smaller chunks. This will allow you to steadily do your assignments without hav