In the next week or so, most U.S. students will begin their winter holiday breaks. That two week break affords college-bound students extra time to prepare for college. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your holiday break.
Take a trip
After this weekend's winter storm, we all want to be in Miami but most hotels are already booked. (Trust me, I checked). Instead, consider visiting one or two colleges on your short list.
Call an admissions representative at the college you want to visit to see if they offer tours during the holiday break. Most likely, the college will look like a ghost town as most students will be on break as well.
However, you'll likely be able to walk into buildings not normally on the regular tours given throughout the school year and you actually may bump into professors and other staff that normally would be too busy to talk to you when classes are in session. You'll also score big brownie points with the admissions staff by giving up some of your free time to visit them.
Most college students spend a small fraction of their time on campus. Take the time to visit the off-campus areas that most students frequent. Take note of the local business district. Are there many companies or businesses? This is important because this will give you an idea of how many job opportunities are available in that area while you're in school.
Will you have to leave the area to pursue internships or other career opportunities? If so, perhaps you should consider a college closer to businesses in the field or industry you are interested in.
If you find a college you like, consider going on another tour when classes are in session as well. That way you'll have a better appreciation for how the area is throughout the year.
Winter break is a great time to stay home and just sleep in. When you finally wake up however, take some time to do some further research on the career fields you are interested in. Call some of the local businesses in your field of interest and ask if they allow students to shadow their employees for a day.
You may gain some valuable insights into the career fields you are interested in and could also make some good networking contacts for future references.
Many colleges require applicants for admission to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours. Visit your local food bank, homeless shelter or social service agency as they always have a need for volunteers.
Don't want to leave the house? Call those same agencies and volunteer to design a logo, webpage or Facebook page for them. You're already going to be on your computer anyways, right?
Application and scholarship deadlines are fast approaching and you need to submit several different essays. A two-week hiatus from high school gives you plenty of time to write some of these essays.
If you plan strategically, you may be able to get out of having to visit your Aunt Molly on Christmas Eve. After all, what's more important, polishing off your essay or getting a new sweater you will never wear?
ACTs, SATs, college visits, essays and scholarship applications are stressful. In a few weeks, you'll have to start the financial aid application process, plan more college visits, pick a prom dress, etc. Be sure to take some time to relax.
College is important but so is your health. Take time to recharge yourself. Turn off your cellphone and get off your computer for at least an hour a day. Visit with friends. Take a nap. Go to a spa. Get a massage. Relax.