Get Ahead in College by Setting These 3 Micro Goals


By Staff Writer Published on March 29, 2018

Most college students know a thing or two about setting goals, but actually accomplishing those goals can often feel overwhelming. For example, you probably have a goal of graduating from college or achieving a certain GPA, but there are so many tiny steps along the way to get there, how do you go about it?

Proper goal setting involves making goals that are S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. This ensures that you can actually get on your way to accomplishing the task you’ve set for yourself. But another important element of goal setting is to create micro goals.

What is a micro goal?

Micro goals are a way of breaking down bigger, long-term goals into mini-goals or sub-goals. Though a long-term goal may be specific (“I want to get a job in my field of study within 3 months of graduation”), a micro goal is ultra-specific, allowing you to check off a box in the short-term future.

This process allows you to hit the ground running, feel accomplished from the beginning, and keep up momentum by allowing you to see how far you’ve come. Here are three examples of micro goals for college students who want to get ahead in their classes:

1.   Goal: Have effective study sessions.

Micro goals:

  • Break down your study time into 15-minute segments. Every 15 minutes, stand up and stretch or surf the internet for 1 minute. (But no more than 1 minute!) This will keep you focused and disciplined during the chunk of study time, so you don’t start wandering off for a “short break” and lose track of time.
  • Meet with your professor after your study session. Often, studying will bring up questions you don’t know the answer to right away. Rather than letting those questions linger and end up forgotten, head straight to your professor’s office hours to get those questions resolved A.S.A.P.
  • Study at the same time every day. If you’re most alert in the morning, try to fit your study sessions in right when you wake up. If you can’t swing that, just make sure it’s at a similar time every day so you have a routine. Putting it on the calendar is essential for making it happen.

2.   Goal: Take care of yourself physically.

Micro goals:

  • Make healthy food choices every day. It’s easy for a college diet to spiral out of control. The phrase “The Freshman 15” was coined for a reason! Rather than hoping to be healthy and easily getting off track, decide on one or two days a week where you’ll eat less healthy. On the other days, make sure you’re starting with fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats like avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
  • Put exercise on your calendar. Aim to exercise at least five days a week, and put those workout sessions on your calendar just like you would a class or study session.
  • Get enough sleep. Make a goal to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Figure out when you need to go to bed to achieve that range, then start your nightly bedtime routine at a reasonable hour to achieve it. Sleep is important for brain development and overall health.

3.   Goal: Find a great job after graduation.

Micro goals:

  • Polish your professional profile. Take advantage of any soft skills classes or services offered, such as building a resume, how to interview, and dressing for success.
  • Attend job fairs related to your field. Job fairs are an excellent place to network, learn about career opportunities, and get a feel for the interview process. Ask your teachers for information about upcoming job fairs and make it a point to attend as many as possible.

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