Have you ever noticed that one of the best times to set goals is at the beginning of something new? That's what makes New Year's resolutions so appealing, or Monday starts versus deciding to make major life changes beginning on a Friday.

Well, the same is true when it comes to doing great things academically. So, if your goal is to make this fall your best semester yet as an adult learner, repeat after us: "My goal is…"

"…To Start Prepared."

If you have kids, then you already know that teachers expect your children to arrive on their first day of school with all of the items on their must-have lists. This is because, the more prepared they are on day number one, the easier it is to handle whatever coursework comes their way. Even if you've already started classes, all is not lost as you can still take some time now to look at your class syllabi and start compiling everything you need to succeed. This one action alone can set yourself up for a productive and successful school term.

"…To Create a Weekly Schedule."

The key to staying current with your classwork (in addition to tending to your home obligations and doing your job) is to create a weekly schedule so you always know what you need to do and when. Whether you sit and figure this out at the beginning of the semester or do it weekly as you go, be sure to leave yourself a little wiggle room. By not waiting until the night before something is due to take care of your readings or assignments, you'll be in a better position to handle any other situations that may suddenly arise, such as having a sick child or having to work overtime.

"…To Befriend at Least One Classmate Per Class."

Making a goal to become friends with at least one other person in your classes serves a variety of purposes. For instance, it gives you someone to bounce ideas off of or to ask for clarity when it comes to how they understand particular assignments. Having friends in your classes also gives you someone to laugh or commiserate with—whether about school or life in general—which just makes life more enjoyable because you know you're not alone.

This concept can apply to both campus-based classes and those delivered online. Even in online learning environments, you can easily and directly connect with fellow classmates through a variety of communication tools.

"…To Have One-on-One Contact with Each Instructor at Least Once."

Not only are instructors crucial to the education process because they're the ones who have created the course schedule, but they are also individuals who have chosen their profession largely because they want to help others succeed. This makes them an ally on your road to professional (and personal) growth, and someone who is worth reaching out to at least once. Connecting one-on-one also helps them better understand you as an individual versus being just another name on their roster.

For online learners, there are plenty of ways to connect with your instructors via video conferencing, phone, e-mail, and discussion groups.

"…To Apply My Coursework in My Current Job Position."

The whole point of going to school is to learn the skills necessary to obtain the career you want, right? But this doesn't mean that you have to wait until you have a diploma in hand to start applying what you're learning in class to your current job position. Even if you are working in a different field, you can still likely use some of the skills you're learning. This helps you hone them even more, making you even better in your profession by the time you graduate.

"…To Keep in Mind My 'Why'."

When we face struggles in life, when things get difficult or don't go exactly as planned, it's not uncommon to want to give up and just walk away. However, that isn't going to get you a life that will satisfy you to the core, so, in these cases, it always helps to remember your 'why.' Your why is all of the reasons you're taking classes, whether to change career fields, make more money, or get in a position where you can have a greater impact. Keep these in mind when things feel tough, and it will help you power through.

"…To Have Fun."

Yes, getting a higher education is work and it is serious, but that doesn't mean that it can't also be fun. Make it a point to appreciate the process and enjoy it as you go. This type of attitude can make life in general more pleasurable, so find ways to work some joy into the process, and you'll be happier all the way around.

Now, get out there and have the best semester of your life. You've got this. You really do.