The Power of Educational Goals

Students holding both clearly defined educational goals and a strong sense of responsibility position themselves for achieving academic success. Even though outside forces and factors may hinder their ability of reaching educational goals in a preferred timeframe, by maintaining both a strong desire and purpose even the largest obstacles are surmountable in time. There is a direct link between a student’s personal responsibility, academic marks, and self-esteem. Those students who maintain a higher level of responsibility achieve academic success (Singg & Adder, 2001).

The viability of this success falls to the students, as they are truly solely accountable for the personal actions taken to meet their established goals. To reach educational objectives successfully students must create and follow a solid strategy to achieve them. Over time, this strategy must evolve through periodic reevaluations taking into account new information and any unforeseen obstacles. A strong adherence to personal responsibility becomes key in setting and achieving goals, as students proceed forward toward achieving their final educational objectives.

Personal responsibility in the context of education entails the level of self-discipline that students apply toward the setting and achieving their desired future educational objective. These desired objectives can be as narrowly focused as attaining a particular degree or as broad as living as a lifelong learner. Students must create personal plans by setting solid, achievable goals to reach either final objective.

As noted by Rader (2005), on the importance of setting goals, “Successful people always have had clear, focused goals that guide them to greatness” (p. 123). However, goals can be defined in many forms and to provide the greatest value they must consist of both a clearly defined objective and a clear means of gauging their progress. It is important for a goal to have these attributes because when goals are aligned together to form both short and long-term strategies it is valuable to ascertain measurable results on the advancements made toward the final objective. This combination of linked short and long-term goals and the ability to account for the progress made as the goals are met creates the foundation of a greater strategic plan directed toward the achievement of a final objective.

The path to a successful education becomes clearer when the groundwork of setting solid and obtainable personal goals has been laid out. With a solid foundation of both short and long-term goals clearly set, remaining on track becomes less difficult when unforeseen factors present obstacles between students and their future educational ambitions. By maintaining a strong commitment to their long-term goals, students can adjust short-term goals to account for and ultimately overcome any detrimental external factors placed before them.

An example of this goal-oriented approach is one that I, the author, have personally taken when making the decision of returning to college. I initially established my educational objective as achieving a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. From that starting point, I began setting smaller intermediate goals aligning to that desire. These goals have ranged from broader items such as picking a school, establishing a funding plan, and laying out a course schedule to narrower ones like blocking time daily to complete coursework and using organization techniques to manage my workload. In taking full personal responsibility by investing the necessary time and effort to achieve both big and small goals, I personally believe that I am in control of my education. If something unexpected was to occur, I would be able to compensate and remain on track to reach my final objective. Going forward, I will continue to set intermediate goals and use them as paving stones leading toward my overall educational objective of a bachelor’s degree.

In conclusion, although outside forces and factors may hinder a student’s ability to reach his or her educational goals, if a strong self-discipline is maintained around personal responsibilities a successful education can still be achievable for two reasons. First, students are in the end solely accountable for the actions they take to fulfill their goals. Second and most important, by having clearly defined goals the path through a student’s education becomes easier to follow and any unforeseen obstacles can be navigated around to reach a final objective.


Singg, S., & Ader, J. A. (2001). Development of the student personal responsibility scale-10. Social Behavior and Personality, 29(4), 331-331.

Rader, L. A. (2005). Goal setting for students and teachers: Six steps to success. The Clearing House, 78(3), 123-126. Retrieved from ProQuest database.

Published: April 24, 2013