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As the end of summer quickly approaches, many colleges will soon start their fall semesters. Some students may be returning back for another year at school, while others will begin as freshmen in the fall. On the first day of classes, students and professors alike may feel a variety of different emotions ranging from nervousness to excitement and everything in between.


To deal with these emotions and others, it’s important for students and professors to set clear goals to help them get through the semester. Through personal experience, I find that when I write out my academic goals for myself and keep the list in an accessible place to refer back to, I am more likely to actually achieve my goals. For professors, it might be harder to balance the responsibilities of teaching multiple classes and interacting with students, while also trying to reach the targets they set for themselves.


For the upcoming semester, I have personally set goals for myself and have expectations to complete them all. One goal I would like to make happen is to engage more with professors to benefit from their extensive knowledge and really learn from them. In the past, I haven’t tried to make strong relationships with professors because I focused more on balancing my social life with finishing coursework on time. Throughout the semester I will occasionally glance over my list of goals to make sure I keep working towards completing them. At the very end of the semester, I will go through my goals one more time to see which ones I was able to achieve. If I didn’t do something I would’ve liked to do, I will put it on my list for the next semester and continue to work at becoming a better student.


On the first day of class, it may be a good idea to set aside time during class for students to set goals for themselves. Setting goals will encourage students to strive to do their best right from the start of the semester. Another useful tip for professors is to have students make another list with specific things that they would like to get out of the class and any teaching techniques they would like the professor to use. Professors can collect the lists from students to develop their own objectives for the semester according to their own needs as well as their students’ needs.


As an instructor, do you set goals for yourself at the beginning of each semester?

What are some of the goals you set?

How do you stay on track to achieve your goals throughout the semester?

Do you have any tips for professors or students on what types of goals they should set or how to achieve their goals?



About the Author

Danielle Straub is the Communication Editorial intern this summer at Macmillan. She is a rising junior at Hunter College in New York City. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English, Danielle plans to go into publishing when she finishes college. Danielle enjoys spending her time traveling, cooking, reading, and volunteering.


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More often than not, college students are completely overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to complete. They often have lengthy lists of tasks they have to do from professors who seem to love to pack on the workload. Although this may be a generalization, the majority of students are exceptional procrastinators and will take the easiest way out when doing their work, trying to get the least amount of work done in the shortest amount of time. Students try to balance their academic studies with their social lives and sometimes the latter trumps the former.


A lot of times students start the semester off strong: being on top of their assignments, up-to-date with readings and reassuring themselves that this semester will be different from the last. They tell themselves that they’ll continue to be organized, study for exams, and get projects finished on time. By the middle of the semester, professors’ assignments are more frequent and students are suddenly faced with a daunting list of time-sensitive tasks to complete. This is the point when some students give up and start showing serious signs of sleep deprivation, procrastination, and overwhelming anxiety. Things like Netflix or going out to a party easily distract students and sometimes hinder their productivity. At the end of the semester, all hell breaks loose. Students are especially sluggish and seriously slacking with their work, and they may start scrambling to recover their grade in a class.


Many different factors influence whether or not students will be motivated to do work for a class. Most factors are situational: where they go to school, what professors they have, their upbringing, their economic background, and the state of their mental health and so on. Every student is different in how they work best. As stated earlier, some are great at time management and others are better at procrastinating, or some are a mix of the two. In the fall of 2016, the American College Health Association conducted a survey of over 30,000 university students that measured their physical and mental health. One specific section of the report found the biggest factors students reported that affected their individual academic performance within the past 12 months. 32.2% of students reported that stress was the biggest factor in their academic performance, followed by anxiety at 24.9%, sleep difficulties at 20.6%, and depression at 15.4%.

To ease students of their stresses, professors can take simple steps to encourage students to be more motivated in and out of class. As a college student myself, I find that when professors exercise these techniques, I, along with other students, are more likely to be interested in the class as well as more willing to work to receive a good grade. Some specific practices include:

  • Inform students on the value of a college education. A lot of students view college as something they have to do because their parents expect them to, rather than a time to be as invested as possible in their education.
  • Get to know your students. Students often need to be told what to do and need significant guidance during college. Giving students the opportunity to have a relationship with their professor is often extremely beneficial. Students are more comfortable to ask questions and are more motivated to excel in a class. Be flexible with office hours times and always be available to be reached by students.
  • Get students engaged in class by having class discussions frequently. If students are comfortable to speak in class, they will actually enjoy coming to class, participating, and being friends with other students.
  • Keep the information during lectures current by relating the topic to students’ lives. References to media and pop culture spark students’ interests and are easily identifiable for them. The more interesting the topic is to the student, the more they will want to learn about it.
  • Give students an incentive to do well. Giving them a participation grade, extra credit opportunities, or reward for a job well done will make the students appreciate you and motivate them to do well.
  • Treat all students equally. Students pick up on a professor who favors certain students and can dislike them for that reason, making them care less about the class.
  • Ask students for feedback on the teaching techniques that work and the ones that don’t. Give students choices on project and paper topics. If the topic interests them, the more likely it is that they will do well when graded.
  • For more tips on motivating students click here.



About the Author 

Danielle Straub is the Communication Editorial intern this summer at Macmillan. She is a rising junior at Hunter College in New York City. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English, Danielle plans to go into publishing when she finishes college. Danielle enjoys spending her time traveling, cooking, reading, and volunteering.

Throughout our lives, we meet many different people, each with different personalities. Sometimes we get along with people and are able to communicate well with them, while other times we don’t. Have you ever wondered why?


One of the biggest factors influencing our connection to other people is our personality. According to the American Psychological Association, personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.” It is clear by now that understanding who we are and how we perceive ourselves is crucial to interpersonal communication. Having greater insight into why we do the things we do and what personality type we are can improve the way we effectively communicate.


With the internet right at our fingertips, there are endless ways to dissect who we are and what personality we have. Facebook and Buzzfeed quizzes pop up every time we scroll and tempt us to find out which Friends character we are, what type of wine we are, or which ninja turtle we are by taking a pizza quiz. Some of the quizzes are simply for entertainment’s sake, while others can actually give us interesting feedback. In the world of psychology, there are personality tests that are backed by research and have taken years to perfect by highly respected individuals in the field. Some of the more well-known tests include, the Myers-Briggs type indicator test, the Rorschach inkblot test, and the Thematic Appereception Test.


One of the most trusted tests is the Big Five Personality test, based on the Five Factor Model of personality, which is the most widely accepted theory of personality today. The test consists of 50 questions, asking questions such as do you make friends easily or do you carry out your plans. At the end, you receive a score that measures a low, average, or high level of five traits:  

  • Openness to experience: Describes how open you are to think in complex, abstract, and creative ways. This measures how intellectually curious you are.
  • Conscientiousness: This trait describes a person’s ability for self-discipline and tendency to aim for goals.
  • Extraversion: This refers to a person’s inclination to seek stimulation from the outside world and from the company of others. It also describes a person’s degree of talkativeness, assertiveness, and sociability.
  • Agreeableness: This trait is used to describe how compassionate, kind, and cooperative a person is while interacting with others.
  • Neuroticism: Neuroticism is the likelihood a person is to feel negative emotions, including anger, sadness, and anxiety. This trait measures a person’s emotional stability and their ability to control the negative emotions they experience.


You might be asking yourself, how can the measure of these five traits determine how well we communicate? Those traits can influence the ways we communicate with others. Someone highly open to experience is probably someone who is always coming up with new ideas and isn’t afraid to share them with others. People who are highly conscientious are usually dependable, hardworking, and cautious. They might communicate well with others because they are honest and not afraid to go after what they want. Those who are highly extraverted exhibit enthusiasm, friendliness, and ambition. Extraverts communicate more easily because they know how to talk to people and are not afraid to tell someone how they feel. People who score high in agreeableness are very kind, compassionate, and sensitive to how others feel. They communicate well because they are very cooperative and typically put others before themselves. Neuroticism, the last of five factors, is the hardest to measure. Most people experience negative emotions from time to time although it happens more often to some. People who score low in neuroticism usually have a good handle on their emotions, don’t let those emotions cloud their judgment, and don’t let stress take over their lives. On the other hand, people who are highly neurotic can be sometimes unstable and overly reactive. In these instances, these people can be difficult to communicate with due to unpredictability in their words and actions.


Exploring our personalities in depth by taking personality tests can give us insight into who we are. By beginning to understand ourselves and others, we can better understand how we communicate the way we do. Whenever you are in a situation where you are communicating with others, you can be mindful of how the other person is speaking or acting towards you. Whether you know the person well or not, you will be able to gauge what their personality is. From there, you can adapt accordingly to the conversation. If you encounter someone with a personality conflicting with yours, you can try to improve your communication skills by adapting to be sensitive to their personality. If you’ve scored low in agreeableness and want to aim to improve in that area, you can try to be more easygoing when communicating with others and more willing to cooperate. Effective communication in relationships starts with understanding the various aspects of personality and using that knowledge to adapt to day-to-day interactions.


Find out your results by taking the Big Five test here.



About the Author 

Danielle Straub is the Communication Editorial intern this summer at Macmillan. She is a rising junior at Hunter College in New York City. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English, Danielle plans to go into publishing when she finishes college. Danielle enjoys spending her time traveling, cooking, reading, and volunteering.