Three Tips for a Successful Start to Fall

By Nadia Alfadel Coloma

Whether you’re just starting your program at Kellstadt or coming back as a returning student, it’s important to have a strong start to the fall quarter because your approach will set the tone for the rest of the year.

Here at the Kellstadt Career Management Center (known on campus as the CMC), we’re here to help you develop a strategy that will set you up for a successful fall and new academic year. We sat down with one of our award-winning career advisors, Associate Director Ellen Dawson Van, to ask her for some advice on how to do that. Read on for her tips.

Take Advantage of the “Fresh Start Effect”

Have you ever heard that “September is the new January” when it comes to setting goals? Well, mounting evidence suggests that it is. September is a popular time for reinvention and renewed motivation because of something behavioral economists call the Fresh Start Effect.

This principle suggests that it’s easiest to adapt to habits at natural transition points—in other words, new beginnings. Birthdays, for example, signal new beginnings, as do temporal landmarks like the first of the month or a change in seasons.

Research shows that experiencing temporal landmarks can boost motivation to pursue goals. And in the fall—a season we’re socially conditioned to associate with going back to school—that motivation can be channeled toward your graduate studies.

One great way to take advantage of the Fresh Start Effect is to take some time for self-reflection. Ask yourself:

  • What are your goals (have they changed over the last year or few months)?
  • Why are your goals important to you? (Do they still align with your values and long-term vision for your life/career?)
  • What are the steps to make your goals happen? (If you don’t know the steps, do you know where you can turn to for advice and support?)
  • Now that September is here, what are some concrete things you can accomplish this month that will bring you closer to achieving your goals?

Create SMART Goals using a three-pronged approach

We all know that setting goals is important: they give you long-term vision and short-term motivation. They help you organize your time and resources so you can make the most out of your life.

But the type of goals you set is almost more important than just the act of setting goals.

Creating sharp, clearly defined goals that you can measure, i.e., SMART goals, will help you see progress. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. The “smarter” your goal is, the easier it will be to achieve.

Being a Kellstadt student, your SMART goals need to have a specific kind of focus. Think about incorporating the following when you create your goals for the quarter:

  • Academic success
  • Career planning
  • Health and wellness

These three elements create a strong foundation for success when you’re in business graduate school. They work together as stepping stones to your goals and also influence each other greatly. For example, if you neglect taking care of your health and wellness, you can fall ill or become burned out, which in turn will affect your ability to perform optimally in your classes. And if you’re not doing well in your classes, you won’t have the time or energy to focus on activities that can boost your career development (missing networking events, for instance, because you are behind in coursework).

Creating SMART goals that are tied to your academic success, career development, and your health and wellness will ensure that you have all your most important bases covered.

Connect with the Kellstadt Career Management Center

Remember that the CMC is here to help you achieve your goals. Our events and services are designed with your academic and career success in mind, so connect with us and discover what we have to offer. Checking out the new Virtual Kellstadt Career Management Center here is a great way to start. This new site is a one-stop shop for Kellstadt students to access academic and career resources, and to contact CMC staff, faculty and student organizations.

Last but not least, get in touch with your career advisor. Schedule regular meetings so we can help you stay on track with your goals and answer any questions you have along the way!

Nadia Alfadel Coloma (LAS MA’11) is a communications analyst in the Driehaus College of Business and the editor of the Inside Kellstadt Blog.


Posted on

September 6, 2022