The Importance of Goal Setting for College-Bound Students

SchooLinks Staff
September 26, 2022
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All too often, in conversations around college and career readiness, there is a clear dichotomy–a student is either going to college or preparing for a future career. 

For those students on a straight-to-career track, counselors have conversations that are much more focused on determining a career goal early and having a student build a relevant experience base and skill set through training programs, internships, and other forms of apprenticeships. For these students, a well-thought out career goal defines the high school path. 

For students on a college track, counselors work to ensure that they have the requisite course credits, take the appropriate standardized tests, complete financial aid documentation, and are up-to-date on the timeline of the application process. The goal students are working toward is to get into a college of the student’s choice. Oftentimes, deeply engaging in establishing a career goal is left for exploration beyond high school, while in college. 

Though common practice in many school districts, this approach does a disservice to college-bound students. Students who will be attending college can benefit tremendously from going through the process of exploring interests and passions to determine career plans and goals and using that information to maximize the value of that experience. For students headed to college, establishing a career goal can serve as a guidepost for decision-making and elevate a student’s overall trajectory across the experiential, financial, and qualitative aspects of college and beyond. 

Goal-Setting Heightens the Impact of the College Experience

Students who enter college without at least a general career goal often spend time taking classes that may be of interest to them but do not generate forward momentum towards a chosen career path. Some may even see this time as being wasted and are forced to spend more than four years earning their undergraduate degree or supplement an undergraduate degree with time-intensive graduate work. Conversely, students with a well-informed goal can more strategically choose which courses to take, which order to take them, and how to functionally build in practicum and clinical requirements. 

Colleges and universities provide students with unmatched opportunities to interact with renowned expertise, access specialized resources and equipment, gain hands-on experience, and collaborate with peers who share similar interests and passions. Students only have a limited amount of time to fully take advantage of this exceptional setting. Students who enter college with a well-informed goal are able to realize this potential. 

Goal Setting Helps Students Maximize the Value of a College Education

While financing for college should not be the sole driver of decisions, it is an important component that can affect an individual’s life for decades. College is expensive, and any additional time earning the appropriate degree for a career equates to significantly higher costs. Minimizing additional unnecessary semesters cuts down on student loan debt and allows a student to begin earning a salary sooner. 

And, having a career goal allows students to make decisions that will result in a stable financial future. When a student has an informed goal, they are better able to consider job market trends, starting salaries, industry demand, required degrees or experiences to enter the field, and adjust their decision-making accordingly. Anchoring these conversations to an understanding of a living wage gives students a full picture of where they are now, what they hope for the future, and how to build a fruitful path forward.

Supporting Effective Goal-Setting at Scale

When students feel that they have purpose and are working towards something they aspire to achieve, they tend to be more motivated, more excited, and overall happier about what they are learning and about their future. Meaningful goal-setting–rather than relying on guesses about what a student might like to do in the future–can provide this clarity and vision. 

To accomplish this more thoughtful approach to college-readiness, the goal-setting process must allow for contemplative exploration, iterative reflection, and dialogue with teachers, counselors, and families. It must also be done in a way that maps onto a longer-term postsecondary trajectory–all of which must be personalized for each individual student. 

Ensuring this happens is a tall order. Given the large caseloads of school counselors, this process is very difficult to scale in any school or district. SchooLinks, an innovative college and career readiness platform, can support this work. SchooLinks guides students on coming to understand their strengths and interests, helps them explore potential careers that might be a good fit, offers opportunities for feedback from both families and educators, and, ultimately, supports students in making more productive decisions in both high school and beyond.  

College-going students will be much better off–both in the short- and long-term–if they engage in this kind of goal-setting process during high school. Their decision-making about which college to attend, what courses and experiences to partake in while in college, and how these decisions fit with their post-college plans will all be more informed and cohesive. In addition to answering, “where they want to go to college,” they will be able to explain, “why.”

All too often, in conversations around college and career readiness, there is a clear dichotomy–a student is either going to college or preparing for a future career. 

For those students on a straight-to-career track, counselors have conversations that are much more focused on determining a career goal early and having a student build a relevant experience base and skill set through training programs, internships, and other forms of apprenticeships. For these students, a well-thought out career goal defines the high school path. 

For students on a college track, counselors work to ensure that they have the requisite course credits, take the appropriate standardized tests, complete financial aid documentation, and are up-to-date on the timeline of the application process. The goal students are working toward is to get into a college of the student’s choice. Oftentimes, deeply engaging in establishing a career goal is left for exploration beyond high school, while in college. 

Though common practice in many school districts, this approach does a disservice to college-bound students. Students who will be attending college can benefit tremendously from going through the process of exploring interests and passions to determine career plans and goals and using that information to maximize the value of that experience. For students headed to college, establishing a career goal can serve as a guidepost for decision-making and elevate a student’s overall trajectory across the experiential, financial, and qualitative aspects of college and beyond. 

Goal-Setting Heightens the Impact of the College Experience

Students who enter college without at least a general career goal often spend time taking classes that may be of interest to them but do not generate forward momentum towards a chosen career path. Some may even see this time as being wasted and are forced to spend more than four years earning their undergraduate degree or supplement an undergraduate degree with time-intensive graduate work. Conversely, students with a well-informed goal can more strategically choose which courses to take, which order to take them, and how to functionally build in practicum and clinical requirements. 

Colleges and universities provide students with unmatched opportunities to interact with renowned expertise, access specialized resources and equipment, gain hands-on experience, and collaborate with peers who share similar interests and passions. Students only have a limited amount of time to fully take advantage of this exceptional setting. Students who enter college with a well-informed goal are able to realize this potential. 

Goal Setting Helps Students Maximize the Value of a College Education

While financing for college should not be the sole driver of decisions, it is an important component that can affect an individual’s life for decades. College is expensive, and any additional time earning the appropriate degree for a career equates to significantly higher costs. Minimizing additional unnecessary semesters cuts down on student loan debt and allows a student to begin earning a salary sooner. 

And, having a career goal allows students to make decisions that will result in a stable financial future. When a student has an informed goal, they are better able to consider job market trends, starting salaries, industry demand, required degrees or experiences to enter the field, and adjust their decision-making accordingly. Anchoring these conversations to an understanding of a living wage gives students a full picture of where they are now, what they hope for the future, and how to build a fruitful path forward.

Supporting Effective Goal-Setting at Scale

When students feel that they have purpose and are working towards something they aspire to achieve, they tend to be more motivated, more excited, and overall happier about what they are learning and about their future. Meaningful goal-setting–rather than relying on guesses about what a student might like to do in the future–can provide this clarity and vision. 

To accomplish this more thoughtful approach to college-readiness, the goal-setting process must allow for contemplative exploration, iterative reflection, and dialogue with teachers, counselors, and families. It must also be done in a way that maps onto a longer-term postsecondary trajectory–all of which must be personalized for each individual student. 

Ensuring this happens is a tall order. Given the large caseloads of school counselors, this process is very difficult to scale in any school or district. SchooLinks, an innovative college and career readiness platform, can support this work. SchooLinks guides students on coming to understand their strengths and interests, helps them explore potential careers that might be a good fit, offers opportunities for feedback from both families and educators, and, ultimately, supports students in making more productive decisions in both high school and beyond.  

College-going students will be much better off–both in the short- and long-term–if they engage in this kind of goal-setting process during high school. Their decision-making about which college to attend, what courses and experiences to partake in while in college, and how these decisions fit with their post-college plans will all be more informed and cohesive. In addition to answering, “where they want to go to college,” they will be able to explain, “why.”

All too often, in conversations around college and career readiness, there is a clear dichotomy–a student is either going to college or preparing for a future career. 

For those students on a straight-to-career track, counselors have conversations that are much more focused on determining a career goal early and having a student build a relevant experience base and skill set through training programs, internships, and other forms of apprenticeships. For these students, a well-thought out career goal defines the high school path. 

For students on a college track, counselors work to ensure that they have the requisite course credits, take the appropriate standardized tests, complete financial aid documentation, and are up-to-date on the timeline of the application process. The goal students are working toward is to get into a college of the student’s choice. Oftentimes, deeply engaging in establishing a career goal is left for exploration beyond high school, while in college. 

Though common practice in many school districts, this approach does a disservice to college-bound students. Students who will be attending college can benefit tremendously from going through the process of exploring interests and passions to determine career plans and goals and using that information to maximize the value of that experience. For students headed to college, establishing a career goal can serve as a guidepost for decision-making and elevate a student’s overall trajectory across the experiential, financial, and qualitative aspects of college and beyond. 

Goal-Setting Heightens the Impact of the College Experience

Students who enter college without at least a general career goal often spend time taking classes that may be of interest to them but do not generate forward momentum towards a chosen career path. Some may even see this time as being wasted and are forced to spend more than four years earning their undergraduate degree or supplement an undergraduate degree with time-intensive graduate work. Conversely, students with a well-informed goal can more strategically choose which courses to take, which order to take them, and how to functionally build in practicum and clinical requirements. 

Colleges and universities provide students with unmatched opportunities to interact with renowned expertise, access specialized resources and equipment, gain hands-on experience, and collaborate with peers who share similar interests and passions. Students only have a limited amount of time to fully take advantage of this exceptional setting. Students who enter college with a well-informed goal are able to realize this potential. 

Goal Setting Helps Students Maximize the Value of a College Education

While financing for college should not be the sole driver of decisions, it is an important component that can affect an individual’s life for decades. College is expensive, and any additional time earning the appropriate degree for a career equates to significantly higher costs. Minimizing additional unnecessary semesters cuts down on student loan debt and allows a student to begin earning a salary sooner. 

And, having a career goal allows students to make decisions that will result in a stable financial future. When a student has an informed goal, they are better able to consider job market trends, starting salaries, industry demand, required degrees or experiences to enter the field, and adjust their decision-making accordingly. Anchoring these conversations to an understanding of a living wage gives students a full picture of where they are now, what they hope for the future, and how to build a fruitful path forward.

Supporting Effective Goal-Setting at Scale

When students feel that they have purpose and are working towards something they aspire to achieve, they tend to be more motivated, more excited, and overall happier about what they are learning and about their future. Meaningful goal-setting–rather than relying on guesses about what a student might like to do in the future–can provide this clarity and vision. 

To accomplish this more thoughtful approach to college-readiness, the goal-setting process must allow for contemplative exploration, iterative reflection, and dialogue with teachers, counselors, and families. It must also be done in a way that maps onto a longer-term postsecondary trajectory–all of which must be personalized for each individual student. 

Ensuring this happens is a tall order. Given the large caseloads of school counselors, this process is very difficult to scale in any school or district. SchooLinks, an innovative college and career readiness platform, can support this work. SchooLinks guides students on coming to understand their strengths and interests, helps them explore potential careers that might be a good fit, offers opportunities for feedback from both families and educators, and, ultimately, supports students in making more productive decisions in both high school and beyond.  

College-going students will be much better off–both in the short- and long-term–if they engage in this kind of goal-setting process during high school. Their decision-making about which college to attend, what courses and experiences to partake in while in college, and how these decisions fit with their post-college plans will all be more informed and cohesive. In addition to answering, “where they want to go to college,” they will be able to explain, “why.”

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All too often, in conversations around college and career readiness, there is a clear dichotomy–a student is either going to college or preparing for a future career. 

For those students on a straight-to-career track, counselors have conversations that are much more focused on determining a career goal early and having a student build a relevant experience base and skill set through training programs, internships, and other forms of apprenticeships. For these students, a well-thought out career goal defines the high school path. 

For students on a college track, counselors work to ensure that they have the requisite course credits, take the appropriate standardized tests, complete financial aid documentation, and are up-to-date on the timeline of the application process. The goal students are working toward is to get into a college of the student’s choice. Oftentimes, deeply engaging in establishing a career goal is left for exploration beyond high school, while in college. 

Though common practice in many school districts, this approach does a disservice to college-bound students. Students who will be attending college can benefit tremendously from going through the process of exploring interests and passions to determine career plans and goals and using that information to maximize the value of that experience. For students headed to college, establishing a career goal can serve as a guidepost for decision-making and elevate a student’s overall trajectory across the experiential, financial, and qualitative aspects of college and beyond. 

Goal-Setting Heightens the Impact of the College Experience

Students who enter college without at least a general career goal often spend time taking classes that may be of interest to them but do not generate forward momentum towards a chosen career path. Some may even see this time as being wasted and are forced to spend more than four years earning their undergraduate degree or supplement an undergraduate degree with time-intensive graduate work. Conversely, students with a well-informed goal can more strategically choose which courses to take, which order to take them, and how to functionally build in practicum and clinical requirements. 

Colleges and universities provide students with unmatched opportunities to interact with renowned expertise, access specialized resources and equipment, gain hands-on experience, and collaborate with peers who share similar interests and passions. Students only have a limited amount of time to fully take advantage of this exceptional setting. Students who enter college with a well-informed goal are able to realize this potential. 

Goal Setting Helps Students Maximize the Value of a College Education

While financing for college should not be the sole driver of decisions, it is an important component that can affect an individual’s life for decades. College is expensive, and any additional time earning the appropriate degree for a career equates to significantly higher costs. Minimizing additional unnecessary semesters cuts down on student loan debt and allows a student to begin earning a salary sooner. 

And, having a career goal allows students to make decisions that will result in a stable financial future. When a student has an informed goal, they are better able to consider job market trends, starting salaries, industry demand, required degrees or experiences to enter the field, and adjust their decision-making accordingly. Anchoring these conversations to an understanding of a living wage gives students a full picture of where they are now, what they hope for the future, and how to build a fruitful path forward.

Supporting Effective Goal-Setting at Scale

When students feel that they have purpose and are working towards something they aspire to achieve, they tend to be more motivated, more excited, and overall happier about what they are learning and about their future. Meaningful goal-setting–rather than relying on guesses about what a student might like to do in the future–can provide this clarity and vision. 

To accomplish this more thoughtful approach to college-readiness, the goal-setting process must allow for contemplative exploration, iterative reflection, and dialogue with teachers, counselors, and families. It must also be done in a way that maps onto a longer-term postsecondary trajectory–all of which must be personalized for each individual student. 

Ensuring this happens is a tall order. Given the large caseloads of school counselors, this process is very difficult to scale in any school or district. SchooLinks, an innovative college and career readiness platform, can support this work. SchooLinks guides students on coming to understand their strengths and interests, helps them explore potential careers that might be a good fit, offers opportunities for feedback from both families and educators, and, ultimately, supports students in making more productive decisions in both high school and beyond.  

College-going students will be much better off–both in the short- and long-term–if they engage in this kind of goal-setting process during high school. Their decision-making about which college to attend, what courses and experiences to partake in while in college, and how these decisions fit with their post-college plans will all be more informed and cohesive. In addition to answering, “where they want to go to college,” they will be able to explain, “why.”

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All too often, in conversations around college and career readiness, there is a clear dichotomy–a student is either going to college or preparing for a future career. 

For those students on a straight-to-career track, counselors have conversations that are much more focused on determining a career goal early and having a student build a relevant experience base and skill set through training programs, internships, and other forms of apprenticeships. For these students, a well-thought out career goal defines the high school path. 

For students on a college track, counselors work to ensure that they have the requisite course credits, take the appropriate standardized tests, complete financial aid documentation, and are up-to-date on the timeline of the application process. The goal students are working toward is to get into a college of the student’s choice. Oftentimes, deeply engaging in establishing a career goal is left for exploration beyond high school, while in college. 

Though common practice in many school districts, this approach does a disservice to college-bound students. Students who will be attending college can benefit tremendously from going through the process of exploring interests and passions to determine career plans and goals and using that information to maximize the value of that experience. For students headed to college, establishing a career goal can serve as a guidepost for decision-making and elevate a student’s overall trajectory across the experiential, financial, and qualitative aspects of college and beyond. 

Goal-Setting Heightens the Impact of the College Experience

Students who enter college without at least a general career goal often spend time taking classes that may be of interest to them but do not generate forward momentum towards a chosen career path. Some may even see this time as being wasted and are forced to spend more than four years earning their undergraduate degree or supplement an undergraduate degree with time-intensive graduate work. Conversely, students with a well-informed goal can more strategically choose which courses to take, which order to take them, and how to functionally build in practicum and clinical requirements. 

Colleges and universities provide students with unmatched opportunities to interact with renowned expertise, access specialized resources and equipment, gain hands-on experience, and collaborate with peers who share similar interests and passions. Students only have a limited amount of time to fully take advantage of this exceptional setting. Students who enter college with a well-informed goal are able to realize this potential. 

Goal Setting Helps Students Maximize the Value of a College Education

While financing for college should not be the sole driver of decisions, it is an important component that can affect an individual’s life for decades. College is expensive, and any additional time earning the appropriate degree for a career equates to significantly higher costs. Minimizing additional unnecessary semesters cuts down on student loan debt and allows a student to begin earning a salary sooner. 

And, having a career goal allows students to make decisions that will result in a stable financial future. When a student has an informed goal, they are better able to consider job market trends, starting salaries, industry demand, required degrees or experiences to enter the field, and adjust their decision-making accordingly. Anchoring these conversations to an understanding of a living wage gives students a full picture of where they are now, what they hope for the future, and how to build a fruitful path forward.

Supporting Effective Goal-Setting at Scale

When students feel that they have purpose and are working towards something they aspire to achieve, they tend to be more motivated, more excited, and overall happier about what they are learning and about their future. Meaningful goal-setting–rather than relying on guesses about what a student might like to do in the future–can provide this clarity and vision. 

To accomplish this more thoughtful approach to college-readiness, the goal-setting process must allow for contemplative exploration, iterative reflection, and dialogue with teachers, counselors, and families. It must also be done in a way that maps onto a longer-term postsecondary trajectory–all of which must be personalized for each individual student. 

Ensuring this happens is a tall order. Given the large caseloads of school counselors, this process is very difficult to scale in any school or district. SchooLinks, an innovative college and career readiness platform, can support this work. SchooLinks guides students on coming to understand their strengths and interests, helps them explore potential careers that might be a good fit, offers opportunities for feedback from both families and educators, and, ultimately, supports students in making more productive decisions in both high school and beyond.  

College-going students will be much better off–both in the short- and long-term–if they engage in this kind of goal-setting process during high school. Their decision-making about which college to attend, what courses and experiences to partake in while in college, and how these decisions fit with their post-college plans will all be more informed and cohesive. In addition to answering, “where they want to go to college,” they will be able to explain, “why.”

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All too often, in conversations around college and career readiness, there is a clear dichotomy–a student is either going to college or preparing for a future career. 

For those students on a straight-to-career track, counselors have conversations that are much more focused on determining a career goal early and having a student build a relevant experience base and skill set through training programs, internships, and other forms of apprenticeships. For these students, a well-thought out career goal defines the high school path. 

For students on a college track, counselors work to ensure that they have the requisite course credits, take the appropriate standardized tests, complete financial aid documentation, and are up-to-date on the timeline of the application process. The goal students are working toward is to get into a college of the student’s choice. Oftentimes, deeply engaging in establishing a career goal is left for exploration beyond high school, while in college. 

Though common practice in many school districts, this approach does a disservice to college-bound students. Students who will be attending college can benefit tremendously from going through the process of exploring interests and passions to determine career plans and goals and using that information to maximize the value of that experience. For students headed to college, establishing a career goal can serve as a guidepost for decision-making and elevate a student’s overall trajectory across the experiential, financial, and qualitative aspects of college and beyond. 

Goal-Setting Heightens the Impact of the College Experience

Students who enter college without at least a general career goal often spend time taking classes that may be of interest to them but do not generate forward momentum towards a chosen career path. Some may even see this time as being wasted and are forced to spend more than four years earning their undergraduate degree or supplement an undergraduate degree with time-intensive graduate work. Conversely, students with a well-informed goal can more strategically choose which courses to take, which order to take them, and how to functionally build in practicum and clinical requirements. 

Colleges and universities provide students with unmatched opportunities to interact with renowned expertise, access specialized resources and equipment, gain hands-on experience, and collaborate with peers who share similar interests and passions. Students only have a limited amount of time to fully take advantage of this exceptional setting. Students who enter college with a well-informed goal are able to realize this potential. 

Goal Setting Helps Students Maximize the Value of a College Education

While financing for college should not be the sole driver of decisions, it is an important component that can affect an individual’s life for decades. College is expensive, and any additional time earning the appropriate degree for a career equates to significantly higher costs. Minimizing additional unnecessary semesters cuts down on student loan debt and allows a student to begin earning a salary sooner. 

And, having a career goal allows students to make decisions that will result in a stable financial future. When a student has an informed goal, they are better able to consider job market trends, starting salaries, industry demand, required degrees or experiences to enter the field, and adjust their decision-making accordingly. Anchoring these conversations to an understanding of a living wage gives students a full picture of where they are now, what they hope for the future, and how to build a fruitful path forward.

Supporting Effective Goal-Setting at Scale

When students feel that they have purpose and are working towards something they aspire to achieve, they tend to be more motivated, more excited, and overall happier about what they are learning and about their future. Meaningful goal-setting–rather than relying on guesses about what a student might like to do in the future–can provide this clarity and vision. 

To accomplish this more thoughtful approach to college-readiness, the goal-setting process must allow for contemplative exploration, iterative reflection, and dialogue with teachers, counselors, and families. It must also be done in a way that maps onto a longer-term postsecondary trajectory–all of which must be personalized for each individual student. 

Ensuring this happens is a tall order. Given the large caseloads of school counselors, this process is very difficult to scale in any school or district. SchooLinks, an innovative college and career readiness platform, can support this work. SchooLinks guides students on coming to understand their strengths and interests, helps them explore potential careers that might be a good fit, offers opportunities for feedback from both families and educators, and, ultimately, supports students in making more productive decisions in both high school and beyond.  

College-going students will be much better off–both in the short- and long-term–if they engage in this kind of goal-setting process during high school. Their decision-making about which college to attend, what courses and experiences to partake in while in college, and how these decisions fit with their post-college plans will all be more informed and cohesive. In addition to answering, “where they want to go to college,” they will be able to explain, “why.”