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Tips for Adult Students to Set Achievable Goals

written by: CrystalGallagher•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/7/2011

Adult students often have their own unique set of challenges when returning to school. They have different priorities and goals to those of their younger classmates, therefore it's important to realize that what goals you set should reflect this. Here are some goal setting tips for adult students.

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    What Kind of Goals do Adult Students Need?

    Adult students need to set goals that are achievable, are specific, and that can be measured. When wondering what goals to set yourself for study and school work, adult students need to choose goals which are:

    • Doable: Adult learners have a lot of other responsibilities in their lives. Often study is competing with other commitments such as work, family, and other social responsibilities. When setting goals for study, all other commitments should be kept in mind. It is better to set, doable, achievable goals that can be done, in order to maintain motivation.
    • Specific: Goals for adult students should be as detailed and specific as possible. It is better to have specific goals such as "do two hours of study each day," rather than general ones such as "do a lot of study."
    • Countable: Adult students should set themselves goals which are countable. Choosing goals which have measurable results will result in students feeling a larger sense of accomplishment. Countable goals might be how many classes to take, how much reading to do every week, and how many hours to devote to their schooling.
    • Individual: Goals should be individual. They shouldn't necessarily be the same as those of younger students, because adult students often have different reasons for attending college than those straight out of high school. Individual goals may relate to what the student wishes to gain from the course, how they wish to apply it to their lives, and how much effort they wish to independently apply to their studies.
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    Setting up a Plan for Adult Students

    Some steps adult students should take when setting goals include creating a schedule:

    1. Decide how much time to devote to college and to studying. Make sure it will fit in with current commitments, and not clash too much with other responsibilities.
    2. Take a look at the work load for each class, per semester. Take note of when papers and tests are set.
    3. Write down important dates in your student diary.
    4. Break study commitments down into achievable steps
    5. How many hours should be spent on each class, per week? Remember to account for time spent in the classroom, reading time for each subject and any individual assignments or papers that may be due.
    6. Decide on the exact number of hours that each class requires, and try to stick to devoting that amount of time to it each week.

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    Important Things to Remember:

    College can feel like a very overwhelming experience for adult students returning to study. It is important not to fall behind early on. Chat to your professors and teachers if you find you have any difficulty understanding the materials covered.

    Remember to not only set study goals, but to reward yourself when you have achieved them. This is a great motivational tool!

    Choose goals that are rewarding to you individually and that help you to move towards a greater goal. Remind yourself of what you want to get out of your college experience and don't feel pressured by anyone else's goals.