Nine things you need to prioritize when you have some extra time.
The holiday break is often a much needed vacation from the stressful ups and downs of school life. However, this free time could also be used productively to do things that you don’t have the luxury of doing otherwise. Here are some things you could devote some of your break to:
1. You can study and prepare for standardized exams that you are taking later on.
If you are planning on taking the SAT (or any other standardized test) after the holiday break, you can spend some time during your break studying for the test. Whether it be taking practice tests, going through practice problems, or reading through your notes, you have more time during your holiday than you usually have.
I find it really helpful to go through prep books and refresh myself on some topics. Just remember to take advantage of the time that you would no longer have when you are worrying about school work and extracurricular responsibilities.
2. You can visit colleges and update your college list.
If you are in your junior or senior year of high school, you probably have some idea of the colleges that you are interested in. Visiting the college campus directly and getting the opportunity to ask admissions officers and tour guides potential questions is a way to more definitively plan out the colleges that you will be applying to.
These college visits can also help you decide what college you will definitely apply to and which ones you don’t like as much. Especially if you don’t have the luxury to take a few days of school off, completing some college visits during holiday break is a productive idea.
3. Apply for internships or scholarships
Internships are a great way of exploring your interests and figuring out whether or not you want to pursue some aspects of them as a part of your career. Scholarships will help you pay for college and winning them (especially if they are competitive scholarships) is also a great addition to your resume.
However, almost always, in order to get an internship position or win a scholarship, you must complete an application. These applications often include essays, similar to college application essays, and requirements for recommendation letters.
Holiday breaks are a great time to grind out some of these essays so that you don’t have to worry about writing them when school starts again and you are busier.
4. Revamp your resume, cover letter, essays, etc.
Most people are able to submit the same cover letter and essays with minimum revisions to multiple applications. As long as you take the time to update your resume and your essays, applying to new opportunities should not be much of a problem.
During your holiday break, take the time to add your most recent achievements to your resume and try to better your cover letter and essays. This will make your life much easier in the future when you need to complete applications in a short amount of time!
5. Help your community by volunteering!
The holiday season is a great time to give back to those in need. Find a cause you care about and start thinking about the ways you can support that cause. Even if it is just a local community center, taking the time to volunteer can get you in the spirit of giving back!
An additional plus of volunteering is that you can add these hours onto your resume and fulfill some of your volunteer requirements for things like National Honor Society (which is a club for hard working and accomplished students in a lot of schools across the country).
6. Try out a new skill!
If you find yourself to be in a constant dull routine, learning a new skill (or even attempting to) can spice things up a bit. Whether it be learning to cook a particular meal or learning how to say a few sentences in a new language, try something new this holiday season!
If you are really interested in continuing to learn, you can even sign up for an online course and complete it over the week or two that you have off!
7. Set goals for when you return to school.
The new year is almost here! Reflect on this past year (on both your mistakes and your milestones) and set new goals for the upcoming year. Do you want to curb your procrastination? Stay more focused? Challenge yourself more? Participate more in class? Whatever it may be, you know yourself best and you know what the next step in your growth should be!
8. Catch up with old friends!
This one if mainly for college students who go back home for the holidays. Everyone that you went to high school with is probably home at around the same time that you have time off - so your holiday break is a great time to catch up with the people you grew up with!
9. Take the time to relax.
Most importantly, it’s called a break for a reason - so don’t forget to take this time to actually give yourself a break and relax a bit. You might reread your favorite books (I always like to go back to the Harry Potter series), rewatch your favorite movies (a Lord of the Rings movie marathon is always a good idea), bake your favorite holiday treats, go ice skating, and simply spend time with friends and family.
If you constantly find yourself tired and sleep deprived during the school year, don’t feel guilty to sleep in and gain some much needed sleep and rest.
Taking the time to breathe and putting aside work will allow you to feel rejuvenated and ready when it is time to go back to the grind.
This coming holiday break, try to find your balance of relaxing and getting some work done. Don’t burn yourself out but at the same time, remove some of your workload so you don’t have to worry about it when you are back at school.