The invaluable process of clarifying values and goals can keep college students focused on their paths towards achievement. Remind your students that their path through college may not be exactly that of their friends, their parents, or the path you yourself took because everyone has a unique set of values to help guide them. The important first step of charting a course through college and in life is defining your values. Many of us likely have a fairly similar set of values, but to quite different degrees. A college student may value their grades, their future, relationship building, their health, their community, the world, and many other things all at once. But which are most important? The weight to which they assign all of these values is what will help them prioritize their time and set productive goals.

Take a look at the below personal values. If your students express interest in one or more of these values, you can provide them with constructive ideas for getting motivated and planning their unique paths through college.

Their Grades

Visit a tutor or the writing lab: Whether they are a struggling student or someone shooting for a perfect 4.0, everyone can benefit from a little extra guidance. Encourage them to put their shyness, pride, laziness, or other aversions aside and make an appointment!

Take an extra online class:  Taking an extra online class can help students build college credit or just provide them with additional skills and training for the job market. For example, students can take classes in project management, HTML and technical writing at sites like

Conduct scientific research:  Research isn’t just for science and medical students. Many other subjects such as communication, political science, and anthropology call for advanced research and studies. Not only will the experience allow students to reflect on their personal interests and curiosities, it will hone their analytic and critical thinking skills. They may even get their research published.

Their Community

Volunteer:  Whether they have a charity or cause close to their heart or a current community event is simply in need of additional hands, volunteering produces a feeling of self-worth and fulfills civic duty.

Become a mentor: Non-profit mentoring organizations help shape the future of children by empowering them to achieve with the help of an older student or community member. Participating in an organization like this will not only help a child reach their full potential, but it is also a rewarding way to give back to the community.

The World

Contribute to a political campaign:  Whether on the local, state, or federal level, working on a political campaign is a great way to learn about political issues and policies. They can choose from a variety of ways to get involved in a campaign, depending on the skills and areas they wish to develop.

Volunteer abroad: Taking the time to work developing nation or region in need is a one-of-a-kind experience and often a life-changing event. It allows students to bring aid to those in need, build goodwill, and develop a better understanding of different cultures.

Relationship Building

Join a club: Making new friends in college can be a struggle for some students. Encourage them to try out any clubs or organizations that may be of interest to them. They’ll have at least one common interest with everyone right from the start.

Keep in touch: Relationships with friends, roommates, family, and even any pets require attention to keep them strong. If your students are concerned with relationship building, encourage them to make time for old friends even while they’re caught up meeting new friends.

Their Health

Get active: College offers a lot of opportunities for physical activity, from the on-campus gym to simply walking to class. Many colleges offer a range of intramural and club sports that students can join in on for a little physical activity as well as some social interaction.

Their Future

Update their resume: Most students have probably already taken a crack at their resume, but their skillset may be changing all the time. Remind them to include any work study programs, extracurricular groups,or extensive research projects.

Make networking a priority: Many campuses have networking opportunities designed just for students. These may sound daunting but are perfect chances to renew old contacts and develop new ones. Simply talking about their future goals with someone may open up the door to a new contact or opportunity.

Any one of the aforementioned activities may just help your students learn what they want to do with their futures. They may even find that one of these experiences is just the thing to make them stand out among other candidates at their next job interview.

What are some other values you have experienced your students expressing in your classroom or around campus? What advice would you give to them for getting involved and planning their path around those values? Let us know in the comments below!