Discover a College Freshmen Goal Setting Activity

Discover a College Freshmen Goal Setting Activity
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College freshmen may have difficulty getting used to deadlines and projects they have to juggle. This college freshmen goal setting activity will help first year college students learn to break down large projects into smaller steps that are doable. Smaller steps allow students to focus on accomplishing manageable milestones. This enables them to better reach the goal of finishing a project than focusing solely on the whole project at one time, which can be overwhelming and lead to missed deadlines.

Existing Assignment

Choose an upcoming paper or project that you have to do for one class that has a deadline of at least a couple of weeks away. This is an assignment you have to do anyway, so it does not add to your already full plate of tasks.


Write down the various steps you will need to complete to get the paper written or the project done. Defining the small steps in exact words can help you better figure out how to navigate accomplishing the whole assignment. For example, if you have a research paper to write, you might write down the following steps:

Gather research related directly to the topic.

Identify and write a thesis.

Identify supporting ideas for thesis.

Write an outline.

Write a draft and revise.

Write another draft and revise.

Write final draft.

Submit final draft.


Given the number of steps you have to complete and the amount of time in which you have to complete them, assign a period of time you have to get each step done. You are, in effect, creating more deadlines for yourself by assigning a deadline for each step of the project. However, when you focus on one step at a time, the whole project gets finished before its ultimate deadline, and you are not left two days before it is due with nothing done. Build some flex time into the deadline. For example, allow yourself an extra day or two before the final paper has to be submitted after you write the final draft of the paper. Snags in projects invariably arise, so build time into your project time line to account for them.

Work on each element of the paper to get it done before its individual deadline. You will be accomplishing small goals on your way to reaching the bigger one. When you reach the final smaller goal, you will have actually accomplished the entire paper without feeling the stress and strain of waiting until the last minute to do it.

Breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones is an effective method of goal setting. Doing so makes large assignments easier to handle and more realistic to finish on time. Writing down the smaller goals and creating deadlines for them makes it harder to ignore until the day before the assignment is due.

This college freshmen goal setting activity can also be used on more fun-related goals. For example, if you want to go on a road trip with your friends in the summer, write down a list of things you have to accomplish before you leave. For example, you need to figure out who is going, which direction you are going, how much money you need to save before you leave, how long you will be gone and arrange for time off of work if you have a job. As the weeks pass and you accomplish these individual goals, you will feel satisfaction knowing you are taking concrete steps to reaching the final goal, which is to put the top down and start having fun once spring finals are over.


Activity idea is from personal experience and expertise.

Top Achievement: Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals: