It is fairly common for students to not know what their educational and professional goals are when they begin college. While some exploration is encouraged, it is important to solidify your educational and career goals as early in your college career as possible. This is especially true for financial aid and scholarship students, as these financial resources are limited. Most importantly, research shows that students who have a clear goal are more motivated, less prone to burnout, and get better grades.
Setting your sights
Having an end goal is essential to your success. It will help you focus and establish your term-by-term education plan. Ideally, your long-term educational and professional goals should align. A good way to make sure they align is to determine what kind of job you want when you graduate. PCC offers over 100 technical degrees and certificates that help you land your job.
If you are not sure what your end professional goal should be, PCC has a lot of resources to help you decide. The Career Exploration Centers have professionals that can administer aptitude tests and help you determine where careers of the future will be. Internships are a great way to refine goals. The college also offers the Oregon Career Information System (CIS). This online service will assess your interests and recommend possible career fields for you.
Once you have a career in mind, you’ll need to determine the kind of degree you will need to enter the job field. You can access many careers with only an associate’s degree or certificate. Other careers will require at least a bachelor’s degree or higher. Regardless of the credential, Academic Advising can help you plan your term-by-term registration.
Make mini-goals along the way
Getting a college degree is a looooong process, which is why it is important to set attainable mini-goals in the short term. When setting mini-goals it is important to pick goals that are both challenging and attainable. Setting goals that are too difficult will only undermine your determination. Setting goals that are too easy can limit your personal growth and development.
So what is a reasonable short-term academic goal? There is no easy answer. It is going to depend on your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the commitments you have outside of school. Some examples could be, “get at least a 3.0 in all of my classes this term.” Or, “take 15 credits every term this year.” Or, “pass College Algebra with at least a C.”
Whatever your goals are write them down and intentionally think about how you will achieve them. What amount of study time will you need to achieve your goal? What kind of support will you need from friends and family to achieve your goals? How do your goals mesh with your employment?
Ready for more goal setting?
We have a whole track for that! See How to Choose a Career.
Setting and achieving challenging goals is a cause for celebration. Establishing a reward for yourself can be a powerful motivator, but it requires self-discipline. Make sure you clearly state your goal and then only reward yourself after you’ve achieved it.