By Dr. Latanya Hughes
Assistant Professor, School of Business at American Public University
It’s a new year and you’ve resolved to accomplish some very important goals. You take a moment to work on your vision and to write down your goals for 2016. Among those goals is pursuing your education.
You’ve seen your family, friends, and even colleagues do it. Why can’t you? Go for it, but proceed with caution!
When considering pursuit of your SMART educational goals, here are a few things you want to remember.
- Be specific about your educational goals. How quickly do you want to finish? What do you want to study? When do you want to start? Where do you want to study? Is online right for you?
- A goal with a date is a dream. Write down a date you would like to achieve your goal. Create mini goals with dates, so you can stay on track with your overall goal.
- You want to make sure your educational goals are attainable. This is why you write down specifics about the goal and set dates. You do not want to focus so much on this one goal that you ignore everything else that is part of your vision for the year.
- How realistic are your dates? How realistic is it for you to achieve this goal? Have you weighed all of your options and everything it will take to achieve this goal? For instance, have you spoken with your spouse and/or family members about this venture? Additionally, is now the best time to pursue your educational goals? For instance, if you know you just received a promotion and there is required training for it, pursuing your educational goals may not be realistic.
- One of the things you have to consider is time. How much time is it going to take you to achieve this goal? Is that time available to you?
In addition to these things, you want to think about how many courses to take. If this is your first time in higher education, you do not want to overload yourself. Baby steps are fine!
Start out with one class and build. See how you handle one course. Apply the SMART principle to your courses. Be specific about how you are going to accomplish each week’s requirements. Measure your work against the grading rubric and use instructor feedback to improve from week to week.
Make sure the goals you set for each course are attainable. For a first time student, an A is a good goal but is it attainable? That is a lot of pressure. Be realistic when it comes to completing each week’s requirements. You cannot expect to get an A in the course when you wait until Saturday or Sunday night to complete an assignment due on Sunday. Make sure you pace yourself and submit your work on time.
This may all seem like a stretch, but it is doable! Go for your dream! Pursue your educational goals, but proceed with caution. Be SMART and you will have that degree in no time!
About the Author: Dr. Latanya Hughes is a full-time faculty member at American Public University. She received a bachelor’s degree (Hospitality Management) from Tuskegee University and a master’s degree (MBA) from Strayer University. She received the Doctor of Strategic Leadership in Global Consulting from Regent University in the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship.