Goals are crucial to getting what you want out of life. Many people have desires for careers, possessions and relationships. Without setting tangible goals, most desires remain just that. Transforming desire into reality involves a process of goal setting and goal-related activity. Many high school students have things that they want and need to accomplish in a certain time frame. Short and long-term goals can help them do that.


The difference between a short and long-term goal is the amount of time required to achieve fulfillment of the desired goal. Most goals are considered short term if they can realistically take less than five years to reach. Alternatively, a goal is considered long term if it would take five years or more to achieve. Setting both short and long-term goals are important for high school students.

Academic Goals

Most high school students have academic goals that they need to complete prior to graduation. Many of these goals vary depending on what grade the student is presently in. For example, a ninth grader might have a goal of becoming a doctor. This is a long-term goal because it would realistically take over five years for them to attain it. However, a high school senior may have a goal of getting into a college that has a great biology program. This goal is a short-term goal, as they would need to complete the steps for attaining this goal in a short period of time.


While some high school students don’t know what career path they would like to pursue, many do have an idea. This helps them to make relevant course choices. Some of the short-term goals that high school students make involve their grades and related extracurricular activities. If a student wants to become a botanist, then one of their short-term goals might be to take and pass science with an A so that they can get into a college science program. They also might volunteer at a greenhouse or florist shop to gain some experience. The long-term goal is to become an actual botanist, but the short-term goal would be to get an A in all science courses.

Goal Planning

It is important for high school students to plan for both short and long-term goals. Planning for long-term goals is something that high school students often fail to do. They think that because the goal is so far away that they can wait to plan. However, setting goals creates momentum and setting them early helps you to incorporate goal-related activities into your life in the present. Whether it’s a short or long-term goal, if you don’t ever get started your goal will remain a wish.