Counselor’s Corner: SMART Back-to-School Goals for Students

Smart Goals Blackboard SignSchools all over the country are back in full swing. With the new school year comes a fresh start for students. I recently wrote about how parents and educators can set SMART goals for the new school year. Students can also create SMART goals to help them have a successful school year. Parents and educators can play a valuable role in helping students create and implement their goals.

SMART goals are:

Specific: What is it that you want to accomplish? Usually answers the 5 Ws (Who? What? Where? When? Why?)

Measurable: How will you know when the goal is accomplished?

Attainable: Is it realistic?

Relevant: Does this goal meet a need?

Time-bound: What is the deadline for meeting this goal?

Here are some suggestions for SMART goals students can set for the new school year.

SMART Back-to-School Goals for Students

Earn Better Grades

math paper © Mybaitshop | Dreamstime.comWhether a student’s goal is to get on the honor roll or get better grades than the previous school year, SMART goals can help. It is best to help students determine why they might have received grades they weren’t satisfied with in the past. Were they not completing homework assignments on time? Were they not getting enough sleep? For this example we will use a student who failed to complete homework assignments the previous year, which contributed to the lower grade.

Poorly Defined Goal: Get good grades.

SMART Goal: During the first marking period, I will complete my homework during the hours of 6 to 7 p.m. on school nights at my desk in my bedroom. After completing my homework, I will put my homework in a homework folder and put it in my backpack. At school the next day I will turn in my homework to my teacher. I will revise this goal after receiving my first marking period report card.

  • Specific: The goal addresses what you want to accomplish and answers the 5 Ws.
  • Measurable: Because the goal specifies when and how often the behavior will occur, it is easy to measure whether you did it.
  • Attainable: This goal is realistic because it specifies “school nights” and not every night of the week. It is also attainable because it is only one hour a night. It’s not asking that you change your lifestyle or get straight A’s. (The amount of time may need to be increased for older students and decreased for younger students.)
  • Relevant: For a student whose incomplete homework was resulting in lower grades, this goal is relevant because it leads to completed homework.
  • Time-bound: The goal names specific times when the student will study and how often. It also specifies the marking period so that the goal can be revisited and readjusted depending on the results of the student’s report card.

Be More Organized

Folders, common licenseBeing better organized can lead to greater school success. Does the student have a messy desk, locker, bedroom, backpack, or all of the above? Help the student determine what areas need to be organized and start with one of them.

Poorly Defined Goal: Get organized.

SMART Goal: After school on the first day of school, I will organize my backpack by creating a folder or binder for each of my classes with places to keep my assignments, notes, and homework. After my backpack is organized, I will spend 10 minutes each day when I get home (during the school year when school is in session) to go through the items in my backpack to make sure they are in the proper location. I will then dispose of any items I do not need or that do not belong in my backpack.

  • Specific: The goal addresses what you want to accomplish and answers the 5 Ws.
  • Measurable: The goal specifies a specific time of day to do the task, how often you will do the task, and how long you will take to do the task. All these are measurable.
  • Attainable: This goal is realistic because it is focusing on one area, not every area that needs to be organized. It also does not require a large amount of time.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant to the life of a student who needs to become more organized.
  • Time-bound: The goal is time-bound because it sets parameters of when the goal will take place and the duration of the task.

What other SMART goals could students set for the school year? What do you do to help your students set goals and achieve them?


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2012 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

About Danielle R. Schultz

School Counselor blogger for Free Spirit Publishing Blog
This entry was posted in Counselor's Corner, Social & Emotional Learning and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Counselor’s Corner: SMART Back-to-School Goals for Students

  1. Setting goals is an important and helpful activity to complete with your team. It’s always good to have one big, hairy, audacious goal, but it’s vital to have stepping stones on the way to that finish line.

  2. Pingback: Counselor’s Corner: Back-to-School Goals for Counselors and Educators | Free Spirit Publishing Blog

Comments are closed.