Setting personal goals is the key to success

It’s happened to everyone.

On the first day of class, backpacks are full of clean notebook paper, a half-dozen pens, and a multicolor tipped highlighter. People’s shoes are clean, hair is done and breakfast has been eaten.

This is the year assignments will be read before class, essays will be finished well in advance of deadlines and flash cards will be made for every test in every class.

This is the year of the straight As.

About three weeks later, the same backpack smells suspiciously like beer, the notebook paper is coffee stained and the only writing implement you have is the one highlighter with a cap still on it. Shoes have become flip-flops, hair is in a hat or ponytail and a cup of gas station coffee is the closest thing anyone in a classroom gets to breakfast.

What went wrong in those three weeks?

It probably started with the lofty goal of earning straight As, not that straight As are anything too ambitious to aspire for.

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However, an important part of college is setting personal goals, and it’s all right if those goals do not align with society’s standards.

For instance, someone who works a full time job while going to school full time and raising a family has more obligations than someone who works part time slinging pizzas, goes to school full time and lives with their parents.

It’s a paradigm rarely considered when measuring standards of success.

Someone who has their plate stacked with the full-time job and family obligations may consider a C in a math course successful if they have always struggled with math. The same person may consider anything less than an A in an English course unacceptable because they excel at writing.

Success in college is all about setting personal, realistic goals.

Are you not a morning person? Enrolling in an 8 a.m. class will likely be a struggle for you.

Has math always been a difficult subject for you? Arrange your schedule to free 15 minutes before or after class so you can ask professors or peers questions about the lesson.

Did your house catch on fire and burn to the ground? Communicate with your professor. They won’t give you a free pass, but they might try to help you with your circumstances.

Believe it or not, plenty of important information is given during the first 15 minutes of class, the inability to ask for help when needed will work against you and professors feel little sympathy for students who offer excuses for poor performance after a failing grade is issued.

So, set your goals early and create a pace that works for you.