Not sure where to start with college planning? Well, that is something a lot of students struggle with.

Using a SMART goal to plan your future is a great tool, however, it is utilized best when you think of the steps along the way instead of just the end result. Here are my tips for using SMART goals for college planning:

1. Start small.

College planning can seem like an overwhelming task. You may not be sure where to begin because there are so many aspects to it. 

Starting with small goals, such as researching on College Board for 15 minutes daily, will help ease your way into the process.

2. Start early.

You know the golden rule, it is never too early to start planning for college! The earlier you start the planning process, the less overwhelming it will be.

For example, we often want to use the summers to relax and enjoy time off before the school year, but starting your planning in the summer months by visiting schools, building up your resume, or working to save money will put you in a good spot when it is time to apply to schools! A good balance is always key.

3. Keep track of your goals.

When I set a goal for myself, whether it be to walk a mile every day or set aside 10 minutes dedicated to practicing a new language, I put a calendar on my wall that I can check off when I complete that goal each day.

Having the visual reminder holds you accountable and it feels awesome to check a box after achieving the goal, even for just one day.

4. Enjoy the process.

Like I said, college planning can seem overwhelming at times, so it is important to celebrate your efforts along the way and enjoy the process.

For example, if you set a goal to research a new college each day for two weeks, celebrate once you reach that milestone! This will make the process much more enjoyable and you’ll always have something to look forward to.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This would be my most important tip when setting goals, especially for college planning. When setting goals, ask yourself: Who can I lean on for help when needed? Who could be a good resource when I am unsure of the next steps?

All of your teachers and counselors have gone through the college planning process at least once in their lives, so lean on them if you need to! We also have experts at our center that can help you each step of the way.

Using the SMART goal template for college planning can set you up for success. We have tailored this resource to be specific to the college planning process so that you can have a clear goal at the end of it. If you’d like a copy of this resource, download SMART Goals for College Planning here.