Students of all ages can set personal goals that will help them achieve success in education and in life. “Goals” are anything a student aspires to and “personal” refers to anything that is specific to you. Teachers and parents play a big role in helping students create and achieve these goals that shape the student’s future.
Personal Goals for Elementary Students
While goal setting for elementary students can include goals related to education, personal goals for young students should focus on healthy habits, behaviors, and personal achievements. Personal goals for younger children should focus on short timeframes and simple goals.
Finish Homework Early Each Week
The goal of finishing homework early helps students as young as preschoolers learn to be proactive and schedule their time in advance. Being proactive can help kids learn to plan for the unexpected and avoid unnecessary stress. While the goal does relate to education, it is a personal goal because it is not an expectation or requirement from the teacher.
- Overall Goal: I will finish homework early each week.
- Measurement: Homework turned in at least one day before the due date every week for one month.
Speak Up More in Class
A SMART goal example for elementary school is more complex than a standard personal goal, making it more appropriate for upper elementary students. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
Speaking up more during class helps kids build self-confidence and recognize the value in sharing appropriate information with classmates.
- SMART Goal: I will look for opportunities to speak in front of the class to gain self-confidence and help my classmates learn.
- Specific: I will raise my hand more when the teacher asks for answers from the class.
- Measurable: By the end of the week, I will have raised my hand at least five times to answer questions.
- Achievable: I will keep a tally sheet of all the times I raise my hand in class.
- Relevant: I will gain more confidence in what I know and in public speaking.
- Time-Based: I will start keeping a tally sheet on Monday and I will count the tallies on Friday after school.
Personal Goals for Middle Grade Students
Goal setting activities for middle school are common, because this is when life starts to get really complex for students. Personal goals for tweens in junior high can be more involved and take place over longer time frames. Personal goals in middle school often focus on organization, time management, and friendships.
Keep My Locker Clean and Organized
Keeping your locker neat and tidy does help you at school, but it also helps you get organized in life. Cleaning your locker and having an organizational system shows respect for your own personal space and helps save you time.
- SMART Goal: I will keep my locker clean and organized as a sign of respect for myself and to save time.
- Specific: I will use locker organizers and an organizational system to give everything a place in my locker.
- Measurable: At the end of the first semester, the only things in my locker will be things I need and they will be in the places I’ve organized for them.
- Achievable: Each week, I will clean out my locker by throwing away anything I don’t need and making sure everything is in its correct place.
- Relevant: Having everything in its place and knowing exactly where it is cuts down on the time I spend looking in my locker for materials between classes.
- Time-Based: I will organize my locker before school starts. I will clean it every week. By the end of the first semester, I’ll automatically know where everything in my locker can be found.
Applaud My Friends’ Successes
Learning to acknowledge and appreciate the successes of others makes you a good friend and a good person. It might even inspire others to do the same for you. Since you can’t predict the successes of your friends, this goal is more open-ended.
- Overall Goal: I will notice when my friends achieve their goals and I will say or do something to congratulate them.
Personal Goals for High School Students
Personal goals for high school students can include things like study habit goals, time management, professional development, and personal development. Teens can set multiple goals at the same time and goals that involve several steps or span large amounts of time.
Find an Effective Study System
Understanding how your brain works and what strategies work best for you can be useful in both your personal and professional life. Taking the time to try out different study systems until you find your perfect fit is a great exercise in self-discovery and focusing on strengths.
- SMART Goal: I will find a study system that works best for me so I can do well on tests.
- Specific: I will look at a minimum of three different study strategies to better understand my options.
- Measurable: By the end of the quarter, my overall test average will increase by five points.
- Achievable: I will keep a record of all my test scores before and after implementing a new study system. Then, I will compare the averages.
- Relevant: I’d like to find a study strategy that plays up my strengths. That way, I can better prepare for tests and show my true knowledge and understanding of the subject.
- Time-Based: I have two weeks to explore study systems, then eight weeks to test out the one I think works best for me.
Keep My Parents Informed
Once students reach high school, a lot of information sharing is left up to teens. Parents get some communication from schools, but you can help your parents stay informed by making it a habit to share your day with them. This provides you with an informed resource for school, your parents, and helps you bond with them.
- Overall Goal: I will keep my parents informed of what’s happening at school throughout the entire school year.
- Measurement: After school each day, I will note important reminders, announcements, or events. One day per week, I will share these notes with my parents at a family dinner.
Personal Goals for College Students
College student personal goals can relate to professional skills, life skills, or relationship skills. Young adults should aim to set both short-term and long-term goals.
Choose an Elective Outside My Comfort Zone
Showing range in interests and experiences looks great on resumes and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone can lead to great personal growth. Make a list of the steps and options for this goal to keep you feeling comfortable throughout the process.
- Overall Goal: I will choose and take on elective class outside my comfort zone during this academic year.
- Step 1: Look at your required classes for the year to see which trimester or semester you have room for an elective.
- Step 2: Browse the college catalog for classes you find interesting, but wouldn’t normally sign up for. Make a list of these classes.
- Step 3: Email the teachers listed for each of your potential elective classes asking for current or former students who might be willing to share their experience of the class.
- Step 4: Meet with one or more students who can share their elective experience.
- Step 5: Choose an elective and sign up for the class.
Find a Mentor
Mentors can help you learn more details about the job you hope to have one day. They can provide you with insider tips and advice for landing this type of job and things they wish they would’ve done differently in the process. Reaching out to a mentor can help your professional development and help you learn valuable networking skills for life.
- SMART Goal: I will find a mentor from my desired profession so I can make sure it’s the right job for me and learn to connect with others.
- Specific: I will look for local mentor options first, then online options if needed.
- Measurable: By the end of this semester, I will start a mentorship relationship.
- Achievable: I’m going to reach out to a maximum of 10 potential mentors if needed.
- Relevant: Finding a mentor helps me gain self-confidence in reaching out to strangers and further explore if I’ve chosen the right career path for my personality and skills.
- Time-Based: I will spend the month of September exploring mentor options to find a good fit for me. I will reach out to potential mentors in October and have a mentorship locked in by the end of December.
How to Teach Goal Setting to Students
Students can start thinking about personal goals by exploring admirable virtues they wish to embody. What kind of person do they want to be? What does that person look like in their behaviors and actions? Ask students to make lists of their own strengths and weaknesses to help highlight areas they can improve upon.
Goal Setting Tools and Resources
One way to set goals is using the SMART goals strategy. Take a look at examples of measurable goals and objectives to get a better idea of how the SMART strategy works. This helps kids ensure their goals are realistic and achievement is possible.
How to Set Up Goals for Success
Student goals will be most successful when they are set up entirely by the student. Parents and teachers can guide students on goal setting, help monitor progress, and provide praise, but students need to do the bulk of the work. When you set goals that push your limits a little and are clearly defined, you’re more likely to achieve them.
Benefits of Goal Setting for Students
Kids, teens, and young adults can all benefit from goal setting in a variety of ways. Turning goal setting into a lifelong habit can help anyone achieve their personal and professional dreams.
- Builds a sense of responsibility
- Promotes organizational skills
- Improves decision making skills
- Separates wishes from reality
- Sets a clear path
- Provides an opportunity for success
- Increases self-awareness
- Boosts self-confidence
Be Your Personal Best
Goals for school and student goals in life are all created in the same ways. Challenge your students from preschool through college to be introspective and proactive with fun goal setting activities. What personal goal do you want to achieve next?