College Goal Setting

A holistic framework for setting goals for the various aspects of your life during college.

This article was tagged with: College

There are 1420 words in this article, and it will probably take you less than 8 minutes to read it.

This article was published 2023-08-14 00:00:00 -0400, which makes this post and me old when I published it.

When I was a peer mentor in college at UMBC, I was very interested in particular about the (high school to) college transition. My main thesis was that many students simply lacked the information to formulate goals and specify intention to form beneficial habits for both college and independent life in general. I created this worksheet as a way to give students a concrete representation of the various facets of their student life that they would have to intentionally maintain.

The facets that I chose to focus on were academic, health, social, time allocation, and personal development. I think out of these, time allocation is the weirdest one. While time allocation is only a means to an end to support the other facets of your life, I think that it is important to understand the time available to you, and to be able to plan around that and set goals for the amount of time you want to spend doing certain things. I think that it can be quite a sobering reflection when looking at the time you have to do things at such a high level.

A printable version of this worksheet is available here.

I also made a follow-up worksheet that is available here.

Quick Checklist Version


  • Comfortable with classes
  • Know where and how to get help
  • Know where and when to study


  • Have Friend(s) to Hangout With
  • Floor, clubs, classes, orientation, Welcome Week
  • Have something to do on the weekends

Allocating Time:

  • Daily Routine Established
  • Waking time, sleep time
  • Joined Club(s)
  • Found productive or fulfilling way(s) to fill free time
  • Found time to relax and unwind


  • Found healthy way(s) to de-stress
  • Making healthy food choices
  • Exercising weekly
  • Drinking water everyday

Academic Goals

College courses differ a lot from what you experienced in high school. You may receive lower grades than you are used to, but if you are prepared for it, you can prevent this from happening. Set goals early and establish good study habits early on to help shorten the transition time.

GPA Goal: _______

Class Name Goal Grade Estimated Weekly Time Commitment Confidence in Getting Goal Grade

How will I study for my classes?

  • Re-Read Lecture Slides
  • Read Textbook
  • Re-Write Notes
  • Go to the LRC
  • Go to Office Hours
  • Join a Study Group
  • Get a Tutor
  • Do Practice Worksheets
  • Make/Use Flashcards
  • Watch YouTube Videos
  • Ask Friends for Help
  • Make My Own Practice Problems
  • Make A Study Sheet

Health Goals

You don’t have anyone telling you to eat healthily or exercise, so the impetus falls upon you. There are resources to find nutritious foods and UMBC has excellent exercise facilities and classes, but it’s up to you to take advantage of them.

You don’t have to workout at the gym, there are plenty of YouTube videos that you can do in your dorm, or you can simply go on walks/runs around campus.

Days I Will Workout (Circle them):

  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday

At school, for the first time for many students, you have access to a variety of ready-made foods at all times. Dining hall food is not inherently unhealthy, but there are a lot of staple foods that they prepare that are always available that should probably not be consumed in or for every meal, like french fries or pizza for example. Balance and variety are the key elements of a healthy diet. I think that goal setting and tracking food is not always the best use of mental bandwidth and can lead to unhealthy habits and/or relationship with food. Instead, you should be intuitively eating but knowing in the back of your mind to eat a varied diet with fruits and vegetables so that you can get all the key vitamins and nutrients that you need to keep your body energized and healthy.

In addition to eating healthily, you should also be hydrating. All college students should invest in getting a quality reusable water bottle that they will carry with them everywhere. You should always be drinking water, not only when you are thirsty.

Water Bottles I Will Drink Per Day: ______

Stress is something that impacts every single student in some way or another. How will you de-stress?

Examples What I Will Do
  • Watch TV
  • Take a nap
  • Read a magazine or book
  • Take a walk outside
  • Sit at the pond
  • Exercise
  • Meditate

Social Goals

Friends are your support network during college. It can be stressful, but having friends in classes, clubs, and just in general always helps. Of course, they can also distract you from your schoolwork, but balance is everything. It’s also important to talk to your family and non-UMBC friends to not feel isolated and keep in touch.

How often will you contact your family? __________

How often will you contact your non-UMBC friends? ________ A lot of people come into college wanting to find new friends, but some are perfectly content in sticking with their old ones, or not having any at all.

How will you find new friends?

  • Talk to people in classes
  • Join student organizations
  • Talk to people on my floor
  • Go to events
  • Talk to friends of friends
  • Go to study sessions
  • Participate in research
  • Participate in community service
  • Talk to complete strangers
  • Get a job

Clubs are a great way to find new people with similar interests to you. What types of clubs will you join?

  • Academic/Departmental
  • Cultural/Ethnic
  • Fraternities/Sororities
  • Governance
  • Hobbies Honor
  • Societies
  • Intellectual
  • Media Arts/Performance
  • Political
  • Career/Professional
  • Sports/Recreation
  • Service/Social Action
  • Religion/Spirituality

Most schools have a list of all the active student organizations that you can browse and see which ones you want to join.

How many clubs do you want to (ideally) join? _________

Time Allocation Goals

There are only 24 hours in a day, sometimes this will feel like an eternity, and other times it will feel like it’s not enough time. You can balance things, but with finite time, something must always be sacrificed.

Research shows that teens need 8 hours of sleep. Time Sleeping: ______

Calculate how much time you will spend in class. Time In Class: _______

Will you take time to eat or grab something to go? Time Eating: ______

How much time will you need to study for those classes? Time Studying: _____

How much time do you want to spend with friends? Time With Friends: ______

Will you join student organizations on campus? Time Doing Clubs: ______

Add all these figures up and subtract it from 24, how much time does that leave or yourself? Time to Yourself: _______

How can you make things more efficient to buy you more time?

What will you do with this free time/time to yourself?

Personal Development Goals

Being in a new space is always scary, but it can also be empowering. You can start over and choose how you want your peers to view you. If you start a journey of personal development, you will be able to become the best version of yourself.

A stretch goal is a way you want to go beyond your limits and grow personally. What is something that you want to work on now that you are in a new environment?

An important practice in life is to lean into discomfort. This means that you need to find what makes you a little scared or anxious, and take a step towards doing it so you can improve yourself. What are three possible ways you could do this to achieve your stretch goal during this semester?

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