Spring break is upon us, even though the weather isn’t looking much like spring. Instead of spending it lounging on the couch, why not be productive? If you have college aspirations, you should use your time off wisely. Juniors especially can’t afford to waste precious time with senior year on the horizon and so many tasks to complete.
Here are my top 10 activities for spring break:
1. Search for scholarships
No matter what grade you are in, spending time on scholarship searches should be your top priority during spring break. Set aside just a few hours every day to research and hunt for them. Juniors and seniors especially should be buckling down with this task since many of the scholarships become available in the spring.
2. Plan your summer
It's never too early to start making summer plans. Summer provides another great opportunity to pursue interests you may not have had time to explore before. Research summer programs in majors that interest you and look for summer internships.
3. Research colleges
Juniors should be doing preliminary college research; and spring break is the perfect time to further your research. Instead of spending useless hours on Facebook, consider doing some in-depth research on the colleges that interest you. Scan their websites, look at online videos of the campus on YouTube or at YoUniversityTV.com. Get a feel for the campus and chat with current students on social media.
4. Make an information gathering college visit
Spring break is a good time for teens to visit a college—any college. You can walk around campus and get a feel for what college life will be like. Since students will most likely be on break as well, this visit should be for information gathering only.
Breaks are the perfect time to volunteer. There are many charities that need help and would be grateful for your help. Consider volunteering outside the country, in Mexico for instance. There are numerous programs that need volunteers and can be tailored to your schedule.
Spring break is a great time to take on a part-time job and add some dollars to your college fund. If you don’t want a permanent job, consider babysitting, snow shoveling (for those in the East), lawn mowing (for the lucky ones in the South), or tutoring younger students.
With all the pressure at school and the pressure that revolves around the college search process, take some time to relax and unwind. Reading can be a great way to de-stress. Get ahead of the recommended reading for the upcoming school year or for college. Read some books that you never seem to have time to read. Reading increases your vocabulary and improves your comprehension skills which helps you on standardized tests. Once you de-stress you will be refreshed and ready to get back at it and end the year on a high note.
8. Study for the PSAT
Did you know that most students don’t study for the PSAT? If you are a sophomore and will be taking the test in the fall, you can have a leg up on the competition by spending some time over the break studying. Why study for a “practice” test? Because it’s NOT simply a practice test. Read 10 Reasons the PSAT is Not Just a Practice Test.
9. Spend (productive) time on social media
The key word here is “productive”. While you’re on Twitter and Facebook, do some scholarship searches and make some college contacts. Research college Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and while you’re at it, sign up on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is now focusing on adding student profiles and it’s a great place to network and meet professionals affiliated with the colleges you are interested in attending.
10. Discuss college options with your family
Juniors should take this advice to heart. Have a conversation with your family about college: where you want to go, what you can afford, what are your expectations. Having this discussion before senior year will help prepare you to make wise and informed college choices.