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There are many big differences between high school and college. One of them is all college students are adults, and as an adult, you should start acting like it. I’m not telling you to shake your fists at young whipper-snappers who trample your yard, only to take your education seriously.

It’s excusable to not take your pre-college education seriously all the time, but in college, you won’t get the most out of your time and money if you don’t prepare, pay attention, show up, and do the work.

In four-year universities, you can get lulled into a false sense of security pretty easily. It’s difficult to focus on your studies when you’re away from your parents’ house for the first time. There are many ways to trip yourself up, and even though all universities have student resource centers to help, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

But at Pickens Technical College, it’s a different environment. Use the small class sizes, the PTC Career Services office, and the support system in place to your advantage. The best way to take full advantage of all that PTC has to offer you on your way to your dream career is to create a plan and state your goals. And there’s no better time than now.

Start Setting Goals Now

Everyone wants to sit back by the pool all summer between semesters, but spending just a little time during the summer before the crush of classes, teachers, and classmates on getting your goals set and a plan in place can help you through the challenges you’ll encounter later.

The first step is admitting to yourself what you truly want. A job in a particular field, better training so you can do your current job better, a new career, etc. are all worthy goals. Sit down and write them out. If any appear unrealistic, ask yourself why they appear out of reach, whether or not they’re worthwhile, and how to break them down.

Digestible Bites

Just because you wrote a goal down doesn’t mean you’ve signed a blood oath to reach it or else. Goals can be malleable. Sometimes just thinking about what you want could give you the jitters. Have you have had goals that seem impossible? Want to become President? You won’t get there in one easy step. So instead of writing ‘Become President’ on your goal list, start with the first step to becoming President: ‘Run for public office and win.’ That’s still a huge task that can be broken down into a hundred smaller goals, but it’s far more useful and achievable than suddenly making a run at the White House.

Fight Fear With Planning

Goal-setting can be a scary business. What if you never reach any of the goals on your list? First of all, let go of the fear of failure. Everyone fails. What keeps people from reaching their potential is never identifying what they want or articulating their true priorities. Logically, it makes sense, but it’s going to take more than a few breathing exercises and well-argued points to jettison this fear altogether. Breaking up the goals into smaller, achievable steps is one way to lessen the nerves. Another is staying away from deadlines as much as possible, at least in the initial goal-setting stage. If you’re focused on school in the fall and you’re setting goals now, you’ll get plenty of timelines and due dates. Start with general goals first and start fitting them into your schedule as it becomes clearer.

Stating your goals now will make you more prepared (and less nervous) for the school year in the fall.