Make the Most of Spring Break
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
February 15, 2011
While you may not be flitting off to a spring break beach this year, it’s not an excuse to spend your week glued to MTV’s Las Vegas coverage. Unfortunately, admission officers don’t grant admission based on social and pop culture awareness. So if you’re serious about the admissions process, you may want to rethink your couch potato plans.
Here’s what you should focus on:
College visits. College campuses have a different energy in the spring. Students are out in full force on the quad – studying, playing soccer and eating lunch. While some may argue this isn’t necessarily an accurate picture of college life, we have to argue that it is. Every college campus across the U.S. erupts with this type of energy in March. Essentially, it is the norm!
Make sure you check the school’s calendar for their spring break. Typically, area high school and college spring breaks don’t coincide, but in the event that they do, avoid a visit. You don’t want to see the campus when there are no students present – it’s a ghost town.
Test prep. Studying for the SAT or ACT sounds like a total drag, but if it helps you get into your dream school, then it’s worth it. Buy a book or software program, and designate a specific time slot each day for standardized testing practice. Then, reward yourself with a guilty pleasure – like a Jersey Shore marathon.
CollegeBoard.com offers free practice questions and tests but buy The Official SAT Study Guide for roughly $22 to really nail the test. The ACT offers similar free preparation, but once again, students are best served purchasing online or software test prep kits. Prices start at around $20.
Volunteer. Volunteering looks great on a college application. Colleges don’t just want students that make top grades. They want students that make top grades and devote their time outside of the classroom to activities like volunteering, which help to hone leadership and engagement skills. Find a cause this spring break – check out the local food bank or humane society.
Want to find the perfect volunteer match? VolunteerMatch.org finds opportunities for you based on your location and interests. You’ll find a cause that not only helps the greater good but also one that you feel passionate about.
Read a book. This may seem small, but it can make a significant difference in your college admission interviews and essays. Admissions officers often ask which novels have made an impact on you as a person as well as in your education. You don’t just want a good answer; you want a great answer. So skip Harry Potter and pick up Tolstoy instead on your spring break.
The Random House Modern Library has cataloged the top 100 modern classics. Read a book from this list and you’ll be golden. Our suggestion? Atlas Shrugged. You’ll be able to use the literary experience for interviews and essays and in the annual Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest. The grand prize is a $10,000 scholarship.