Actionable Long-Term Goal Examples for College Students

, Staff Writer
Updated June 17, 2022
college student with books achieving goals
    college student with books achieving goals
    SIphotography / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

College is a time for growth and change. But, you don’t want to lose sight of your bigger goals in life. Set actionable long-term goals using the SMART method. Use examples of actionable long-term professional and academic goals as inspiration to create your own.

Why Set Long-Term College Goals?

As a high school student, you might have had your life all planned out. But, now that you are in college, it seems that you’ve lost your resolution. Maybe you aren’t even sure what you want to do anymore.

Consider setting long-term goals. These are goals that you want to happen in the future. For example, you may aspire to get your dream job after graduation. Typically, long-term goals will take you more than 12 months to complete.


The Importance of College Goals

Long-term goals are a great way for you to set your path toward the future. Not only will they put in writing what you are working toward, but they can also keep you motivated. Your goal is right in front of you, and it can keep you going.

In college, it is easy to get into a rut and lose focus of what you are trying to achieve. After a hard class or semester, you can look at your long-term goals to remind you of what is important and what you want when you graduate.

Creating Long-Term College Goals

When it comes to creating actionable and inspiring long-term goals, it can be helpful to use the SMART method. These are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

  • Specific: College goals need to be specific to what you want to accomplish, like graduating cum laude.
  • Measurable: You should be able to track your long-term goals using small stepping stones, like getting all A’s this semester.
  • Achievable: Make goals that are reasonably within reach. For example, if you’ve been struggling to pass your courses, don’t set a goal of graduating with a 4.0 GPA. This might be unrealistic.
  • Relevant: Set goals that are relevant to your college education and future career. For instance, you wouldn’t want to strive toward getting an engineering apprenticeship if you plan to go into medicine.
  • Time-Bound: You need to set a specific end date to look forward to, like getting your master’s degree in two years.

Examples of Long-Term Academic Goals

When you’re just starting out in college, it is important to get your goals set. You’ll want to write these out and keep them somewhere you can see them and mark them off as you complete them.

Have a 3.0 GPA Upon Graduation

You can modify this goal as you go along for your academic achievement, but this keeps you working hard in your classes. And, it’s achievable. It is also specific and relevant to being in college. You can also break this into smaller goals to help you reach your desired GPA, like homework and grade goals.

Complete Your Bachelor’s in Four Years

Many times, it takes longer than four years to get a bachelor’s degree. This is pushing you to put forth your maximum potential. You can also customize it to you by adding your specific degree.


Get Accepted into a Graduate Program

A goal to get into graduate school is a perfect one to break down into smaller actionable steps. You might work the steps into getting high GRE scores and getting references from your professors.

Complete General Education Courses First

Many times, the general education courses might seem boring or dreaded. Students might also want to get right into what they are studying. By setting a goal to get these out of the way first, you aren’t putting them off until the end.

Publish an Academic Paper Before Graduation

Not only will publishing an academic paper look good on your resume, but it is also a great long-term goal to set for yourself. It will show your commitment to your field and really push you in your desired degree program.


Learn a New Language Studying Abroad

It is important to experience other cultures and get outside of your bubble while you are in college. Setting studying abroad as a long-term goal can help you look beyond just academics and think about the connections and networks that might help your future. Plus, a second language is a great skill to list on a resume.

Professional Goals for College Students

When setting your goals, you’ll want to think beyond just your academic aspirations and establish your career goals too. A big part of the reason why you’re attending college in the first place is to get into a desired career. Therefore, you need to provide yourself a clear path to the future you want.

Gain a Leadership Position

Leadership experience is important no matter what field you go into. By setting a goal to gain leadership experience within a professional student organization that is important for your career or that you enjoy, you’re going beyond the generic goal of just going to a club and working toward your future.


Get an Internship

Not only can an internship in your desired field help you to network with people around you, but it is also a great way to get your foot in the door at the company you are dreaming of working for someday. Adding the time frame that you want to be interning by, like by the beginning of fourth year, can make it more challenging.

Attain Position in Desired Company

Everyone has a dream company that they would love to work for. Make it a specific long-term goal. Set your sights on a specific company and strive to land a job there before graduation.

This will have you looking into the job requirements and thinking about completing those items while you’re still in school. This way, you’ll be in a good position to apply for a position even before you graduate and hopefully get started in your dream career.


Build Strong Connections in a Mentorship Program

Mentorship programs are a great way to learn from some of the top people in your field. You can also connect with professionals that you may someday be working with, too. This will build not only your technical skills and resume, but also your social network.

Achieving Your Long-Term Goals

You have to be able to see your goals to achieve your long-term goals. That is why it is important to write them down and view them every once in a while. You can also modify them as priorities change in your life. Now that you know your academic and professional goals, explore some long-term personal goals for your life too.