Katherine BurdickHello! My name is Katherine Burdick and I’m the First Year College Advisor at UNLV. In my role, I’m here to assist high school and UNLV First-Year students with whatever they
need to succeed after high school. Whether that’s applying to college/university, or preparing for entering the workforce. As a first- generation college student, I understand the importance of having guidance as you enter the next phase of your life. Part of this guidance is understanding what you want to accomplish and identifying a pathway to that goal. S.M.A.R.T. Goals is the most well-known goal setting framework. S.M.A.R.T. Goals are:

Specific: What exactly will you accomplish?
Measurable: How will you (and others) know when you have reached your goal?
Attainable: Is attaining this goal realistic with effort and commitment? Do you have the
resources (financial, skills, etc.) to achieve this goal? If not, how will you get them?
Relevant: Why is this goal important to you? Why does this matter?
Time-bound: When will you achieve this goal?

To put this into context, let’s work on an example together. Michael is a high school
senior who is entering their local community college in 6 months. They recently got a
drivers license and hope to buy a car before college so they can commute more easily.
How can Michael use S.M.A.R.T. Goals to help him purchase a car?

Specific: What exactly will you accomplish?: Michael wants to purchase a car
Measurable: How will you (and others) know when you have reached your goal? Michael
will purchase a car.

Attainable: Is attaining this goal realistic with effort and commitment? Yes. Michael will
need to get a job in order to save up money for a used-car. They will need to find a job
that offers flexible hours (they are still in school) and that pays minimum wage.

Relevant: Why is this goal important to Michael? Michael needs a car to get to school
and not rely on someone else or public transportation to get to school.

Time-bound: When will they achieve this goal? In 6 months.

While typing this example down seems easy, the real challenge comes in putting this
into action. Michael, like many of you, might not have work experience. They will have to
work a little bit harder to work on their interviewing skills and their resume to find a job.
They might also have to apply to multiple jobs before finding one that works for them. In
addition to this, Michael will need to be dedicated to setting money aside each paycheck
for their car. If Michael wants a very specific car, the amount of money they are saving
will also change.

There are so many variables that will change their S.M.A.R.T. Goal and part of using this
method is to allow flexibility. Goals change, life happens, it’s okay to adjust as we go.
Maybe Michael hasn’t saved enough money by the end of 6 months so they extend it to
12 months. Or a family member has gifted an unused car to Mchael but they are
responsible for making fixes before the car can work well again.

I hope you are able to make use of S.M.A.R.T. Goals in your personal and academic life.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!