When the calendar on your wall -- or smartphone -- turns to a new year, it's a sign of new beginnings and opportunities. We all try to improve ourselves each day, and this is even more magnified when January 1 arrives every 365 days.

Adult learners who decide to pursue a college degree a little later in life than the typical college student often face a number of unique challenges. If you fall into this category, consider the following New Year's resolutions you may wish to make to help ring in a better 2018 for you than 2017 was.

1. Improve your time management skills.

As an adult learner, there's a good chance you have many obligations, such as one or more jobs, a family to care for, bills to pay, and plenty more. This is why time management skills are critical.

Consider taking the following steps to help ensure you devote enough time to your coursework and get your assignments done in a timely manner:

  • Use a smartphone app with reminders.
  • Coordinate your coursework schedule with your employment, family, and other obligations.
  • Budget at least an hour per day to work on course assignments.
  • Before an exam, block off ample time to study for it at least a few days in advance.
  • Determine how fast you can type so you can properly prepare for writing essays.

Check out our tips on balancing a full-time job with earning a degree for further reading.

2. Make an effort to connect with your professors.

It's definitely unfair to say that traditional-age college students are the only ones who frequently connect with their professors during office hours or through other forms of communication.

If you have any questions or concerns or need any assistance to help you succeed in your classes, never hesitate to reach out to those teaching you. Take a walk to your professor's office if you're taking classes on campus. Online learners can pick up their phones to call, text, e-mail, or even video chat with an instructor.

Just because you might have a few years on your fellow classmates doesn't mean you should try solving every single problem in your class with no help. Every student is in a class for a reason and should be treated equally. And your professors are the subject-matter experts at your disposal, so lean on them when you need that extra boost.

3. Strengthen your connection with your fellow classmates.

Going to college is never easy, regardless of your age or career status. The concept that two heads are better than one applies quite well here. That's because it is imperative to connect with your fellow classmates and work together, even outside of group projects.

Interacting with these other students can:

  • Help you understand certain concepts better
  • Give you unique perspectives from others
  • Help you realize you aren't the only one who may find certain assignments challenging
  • Help you study more effectively

Learning styles often vary between adult learners and those who are recent high school graduates, so getting to know some of the younger students in your classes is another smart way to gain an edge. Perhaps it's been several years since you were in college, and you just aren't familiar with some of the more current study options, technologies, and other aspects of your coursework. Connecting with those who are more adept can be a huge boon for succeeding on your educational journey.

4. Plan out the rest of your coursework.

Determine where you currently stand in your degree program. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many more credit hours do I need to complete my degree?
  • How many more classes do I need to take?
  • Which classes are required for me to take?
  • Which classes can I take as electives?
  • How many more semesters do I need to complete?
  • What is my projected graduation date?

Mapping out the answers to all of these questions will give you a much better grasp on the rest of your educational requirements. Once you've nailed all of this down, you can rest a little more easily knowing what lies ahead in front of you.

5. Research your career goals.

Even though you may have a ways to go before collecting your diploma, you should keep your career goals at the forefront of your mind.

So, how can you actually go about doing this? Find industry-specific websites. Look up relevant organizations and associations on social media to follow, and see what kind of information they're putting out to get a feel for the current vibe of your intended line of work.

Check out job sites like Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder to see what kinds of positions are available in your desired field. Examine the salaries and benefits being offered for postings that interest you, and look at where these opportunities are geographically.