For the last four years, high school students have had one goal in mind: graduate. For many graduates, you are looking ahead to college and your future. How did you achieve that goal? You made plans when you entered high school, followed that plan, and in the end, were successful.
Before entering college, or while in college, there are some specific goals you can set and get on a track toward success:
College students should make a number of college-related goals.
- Excel in Academics: Your freshman year sets the tone for the next four years and with the job market as competitive as it is today, GPA’s are important. It’s not enough just to have a college degree; you need to be committed to excellence.
- Focus on Your Health: In the past, your parents worried about your health. In college, you’re responsible for taking care of yourself. Eat right, get rest, take vitamins and exercise. This won’t only contribute to your overall health, but it will also help you concentrate and excel in class.
- Learn to Self-Advocate: Your parents didn’t come to college with you. They can’t fight your battles any longer. College is the time for you to begin advocating for yourself. Speak up, let your requests be known, and handle conflict like an adult. Starting self-advocacy in college will make your life easier and help you move toward independence.
Before college, most students rely on their parents to meet their financial needs. When you are away from home in school, you are responsible for managing your money.
- Don’t Get Into Debt: It’s easy to get into debt. Credit card offers abound once you start college. Most students graduate college with thousands of dollars of credit card debt. Do yourself a favor and use debit cards, credit cards that require payment each month, and good old American cash.
- Borrow Only What You Need: It’s tempting to borrow as much money as student loans will allow. College students often borrow for tuition and other college expenses. They use the extra money for living expenses, entertainment, etc. Don’t fall into this trap. Be a smart student loan borrower.
- Work: Begin your work career in college (if you haven’t started in high school). Working teaches you accountability and helps you supplement the funds your parents give you and will help you limit the money you borrow. Working also gives you valuable networking opportunities.
Begin setting career goals in college. When graduation comes along, you will be ready to jump into the job market, setting yourself apart from other unprepared graduates.
- Start Networking: Brand yourself. Start using social media to make professional contacts, especially LinkedIn. Collect emails and business cards from professionals you meet and work with. Those contacts will be useful when you begin your job search.
- Begin Researching Careers: Learn all you can about your future career path. Talk to professionals in the field, shadow them if possible, and make a connection with your college career center.
- Commit to Internships: Internships are valuable tools at your disposal while in college. Whether paid or unpaid, they offer you opportunities for experience. Once you begin the job search, internships show future employers that you have already gathered some relevant job experience.
You might feel like the future is far into the distance, but before you know it, you will be looking back and wondering where the time went. Setting goals for the future now will prepare you for a happy, successful and productive life.
- Choose a Career for Advancement: When you’re researching careers in your area of interest, choose one that has opportunities for advancement. You don’t want to be stuck in an entry level job for years just because there is no way to move up. Commit to changing jobs if necessary to move forward with your career goals.
- Own Instead of Rent: It will be awhile before you will have the financial means to own property, but setting that goal now will help you work toward that eventuality. Throwing rent money away every month is not good financial sense.
- Start Saving for Retirement: Did you know that starting early will ensure that you have retirement money when you turn 65? Start with $100 a month. As your career progresses, add to that amount every year. If your employer matches 401(k) contributions save the maximum amount allowable.
Planning for the future makes perfect sense. You might think you have all the time in the world but those years fly by quickly. Preparation for the future prevents panicking later in life when you realize you should have thought about goals while you were in college.
What kind of goals are you setting for yourself while in college? Share them with us in the comment box below!