GearUp Ambassador - Elizabeth DuryeaOriginally from Jonesboro, Arkansas, this month’s blogger is Elizabeth Duryea, GEAR UP Ambassador for GBC Pahrump. Elizabeth graduated with an M.A. in History and shares her tip for academic success in this, our February 2020 blog.


One of the hardest things I had to learn was setting achievable goals for myself, especially when I was a new college student. We all know how important goals are but as a college freshman, it wasn’t easy for me to set goals that were actually achievable. My goals were more like, “I will turn in all my assignments on time” and “My goal is to complete my papers early.” Both are really good ideas, but they quickly faded away as they didn’t include any way to hold myself accountable.


Since I wanted to set myself up for success, I had to work on setting achievable goals. To do that, I need to know what outcome I wanted and then note all the steps I had to take to reach that goal. I learned to set S.M.A.R.T. goals:


  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Results-Focused
  5. Time-Bound/Scheduled


For example, for me a major component of my history degree was writing papers. The end goal was always to write a research paper that receives a passing grade and turn it in when due. With the outcome in mind I set mini-SMART goals to ensure I’d reach my ultimate goal. For instance, if the paper was due in four weeks I would schedule study time with a friend to work together. This helped us stay accountable and get the work done. I worked in measurable chunks to help keep distractions at bay as well. I’d set a timer for 10-15 minutes and would write during that time and then take a 5-10 minute break. This helped keep me on task. It’s hard to write more than a few pages at a time, so my goal would always been to work on one or two pages a day until I had completed the assignment. To break this down using the S.M.A.R.T method:


  1. Specific – Every day I will research or write on my paper for three weeks or until it is
  2. Measurable – Week 1: Topic, Research/Notes, Start Writing; Week 2: Write at least a page a day until goal is achieved; Week 3: Finish writing, Proof-read and edit, have someone else proof- read; Week 4: Complete edits and turn in
  3. Achievable – Each of the measurable steps are achievable in small chunks of time
  4. Results-Focused – Each week showed progress toward completing the end goal
  5. Time-Bound/Scheduled – Planning out each week to have a certain amount finished and scheduling time to write to complete the paper before it was due


Setting goals should be a fun challenge, not a difficult endeavor. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is an invaluable resource to use with any goal in college, or life, that I want to achieve.