Setting Long-Term College Goals

By Ezra Ekman

Many students do not know where they’re headed in college, instead attending courses almost at random as they “figure it out.” However, this can be both time-consuming and expensive. Even worse, it can lead to graduating with a degree that has little to nothing to do with your passions and interests. But there is something you can do about it.

There is no magic spell or secret trick to help you decide what you want to do in life. However, the advisors at FRCC can help you explore these options, and you might be surprised just how impactful this can be.

A comprehensive 2017 study from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine states that students were more likely to complete college when they set “personal goals and values that a student perceives to be directly linked to the achievement of a future, desired end,” especially students that were underrepresented and at risk of academic failure. It further stated that, “A goal-setting intervention improved students’ college semester grade point average.”

While the authors clarify that more study is needed, the results seem to indicate that working with an advisor to set long-term goals is likely to reduce stress, improve GPAs and help make your success in college more likely.

I’ve personally seen success with this method. I wanted to take classes so I could start making progress when I started college, but I was concerned that I’d waste time and tuition on courses that wouldn’t help with my degree. I worried the courses I was taking weren’t the right choices and that it would be too late to register for them when I finally figured it out.

Aaron Prestwich, dean of student affairs at the Westminster Campus, recommends students have a specific goal and vision for what they want to accomplish and a timeline for when and how they want to accomplish it. This gives students a purpose.

“I had that problem,” said Prestwich, describing a lack of direction during his college years. “But over time, when I developed a purpose and a goal that I had for myself, it seemed like all of those things started to fall into line. Because I had purpose.”

This echoed my own experience, so I spent some time researching the degree I wanted, the schools I was interested in and their transfer agreements with FRCC. It was much easier to make final decisions about my courses at FRCC after I’d decided on my bachelor’s degree and knew which courses I could transfer.

I then met with my advisor to set a course schedule for the next two years. This removed the stress of not knowing exactly what I’d be doing, what to expect or when I’d be doing it. I could also register for courses the day each semester’s registration opened, which removed the worry of making a schedule that worked before classes filled up.

That, alone, was worth the time spent. Once I knew that I had a set goal, had specific semesters that I’d be taking specific courses and that I didn’t have to worry about getting into my classes because I could register early, most of my academic stress disappeared, and I could focus on doing well in my existing courses without worrying about the future ones.

It might seem daunting, but your advisor can help you through the task of setting long-term goals.  Make an appointment with them to walk you through your options, then another to solidify your goals. This can help to remove uncertainty, and everything else in college somehow becomes a little easier.


Leave a Reply