With the new year, did you set New Year’s Resolutions?

Truth be told, we am NOT much into setting resolutions but am very much into setting goals – SMART Goals.  What what is a Smart Goal and how do you set them?

Setting SMART Goals

SMART Goals is a well-established tool that you can use to plan and achieve your goals. While there are a number of interpretations of the acronym’s meaning, the most common one is that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each GOAL should be:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

So what is a SMART Goal for the NEW YEAR?


Gain academic success by obtaining straight A’s in your courses for the upcoming semester.

But how do you get straight A’s.  If you search the topic on Google, there are many lists, steps, and articles on the topic.  There are even books on the topic.  While we do profess to be the expert on the topic, the following steps can make an impact on your academic success.

And the best part is that none of these steps draw from your intelligence meaning that ALL of you can do it; instead, these actions are all related to behavior.


Most importantly, the key to academic success is to attend class.  This step may seem obvious yet many students approach attending class as optional.  It is NOT.  To obtain and retain the knowledge from your professors, it is essential that you go to class.  Besides, it is often that you can only access certain aspects from a course from what is presented in class.

Another way to think of it is from a cost benefit analysis.  During my graduate studies, I was on my own in paying for the tuition.  I calculated that a particular class session was about $30 / hour – the calculation of the course tuition divided by the number of class hours.  If a class was missed, I was out $30.  Thus, approach the course as an investment in your career future regardless of who pays for your tuition.



Aside from attending class, it is imperative that you do the work.  Of course, the “work” will depend on the course but may include reading, writing, note-taking, research, project work, group projects and more.

Now, doing the work is NOT easy but must be done; as a former faculty, it was always disheartening to have students approach me with excuses as to why they could NOT do the work.  Do not make excuses and instead do the work.  If you are not sure HOW to do the work, ask (see last step).



Perhaps the most unorthodox step of them, sitting in the front row is also important in achieving academic success.  It may not make sense but sitting the front row can make a different.  Think about it.

Perhaps you have a course in a larger lecture hall; sitting in the front row will allow you to create a closer connection with the faculty.  As well, it provides your faculty to know you.  Also, you avoid the distractions that come up sitting further back.  Thus, you have more directed attention for the course from the front.



And the best is saved for last.  Probably the most crucial step in achieving academic success is asking for help.  Yes, do not try to do it by yourself.  Of course, start with your faculty; visit them during their office hours near the beginning of the semester and ask how to best approach their course.  Inquire about what you can do to best succeed in the course.

Besides faculty, seek out classmates for studying material together.  As well, contact students who took the course previously.  I do remember doing so and it was quite beneficial for materials and insight.  Lastly, be to utilize all campus resources available to you namely – the Tutoring and / or Writing Center, College Library, Health Center, Academic Advisor among others.


Thus, there is MUCH you can do to control whether you achieve academic success.  By following the action steps above, you will achieve academic success.


We wish you well in your quest for academic success and do let us know how we can help you.

Next session, we will focus on a CAREER GOAL.

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