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Darryle Aldridge
Virginia Beach, VA
December 2017

Be S.M.A.R.T. About It - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay

Dark and ominous, it looms in the distance threatening to unleash a hailstorm of due dates and all-nighters. Projects are the bane of most high school students’ existences. Figuring out how to approach a project can be overwhelming. While at first glance projects can seem daunting, in truth, they can be great learning experiences when you have this one thing: strategy. With strategy, even the most colossal of projects can become manageable.
My go-to strategy when I receive a project is to make S.M.A.R.T. Goals. S.M.A.R.T., in this case, means specific, measurable, achievable, result-focused, and time-bound.
Specific: Understanding all the things I need to accomplish and clarifying all points of confusion gives me a better idea of how to approach the project.
Measurable: Breaking the project down into different segments makes the project seem less imposing and helps me measure my progress.
Achievable: Keeping the objectives, deadlines, and limitations in perspective helps ensure my ideas don’t get too out of control when planning the project.
Result-focused: When doing the project, I have to be mindful that I measure outcomes and not activities.
Time-bound: Setting periodic due dates and timelines as I work to complete the project, gives me a sense of accomplishment and keeps me on track.
Using S.M.A.R.T goals has saved me many sleepless nights in high school. As I close out my senior year, I have to complete a senior project based on creativity, action, and service. For my project, I chose to tackle global warming. I am working with a partner to create a school-wide Earth Week event. In the project, my partner and I will give presentations to underclassmen and children on the importance of global warming. The project will culminate with a day dedicated to beautifying the school garden. Utilizing S.M.A.R.T goals helps me manage my time and keep the purpose of the project realistic throughout the planning process.
Projects can be frustrating. They’re enough to make even the most competent of students pull at their hair in frustration. However, when you strategize, projects can be less stressful, less intimidating and even rewarding if you’re S.M.A.R.T. about it.