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3 academically productive ways to spend winter break

Student on laptop
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The desire to laze your winter break away can be great – you exert yourself so very much during the school year, after all. But slacking off too much on both summer and winter vacations can harm your academic progress. Their lengths may lead to rusting skill sets and knowledge that slides from memory, but you must stop this process from happening.

For many, winter break has not yet ended, so why not take advantage of starting the New Year with this time off and be productive? Here are three suggestions to spend the remainder of your winter break in a more meaningful manner:

1. Volunteer within your community
A history of volunteer activities can greatly aid in a college applicant’s quest for admission, and it is never too early to start beefing up that resume. But serving your community, whether at an independent non-profit (such as a food pantry) or through a national organization (like Habitat for Humanity), also fosters the development of skills that are central to academic success: attention to detail, confidence, dedication, and so on. Each project you decide to undertake also imparts specific knowledge sets – construction, food preparation, etc. Consider selecting an organization whose purpose relates to your interests in school or to your eventual career. Your future self will be happy you gained this experience early on.

2. Conduct vacation destination research
Perhaps participating in a volunteer opportunity or even a brief winter course is not possible due to travel commitments. Whether your journey involves family or pleasure, you can benefit academically. Select an aspect of your destination to investigate: are there unique geological landforms within a short distance? Is the area renowned for a particular export? What hidden gems does it contain? As high school seniors and college students know well, the ability to conduct a large-scale inquiry is central to school success. Hone your skills before that stage, in an environment free of both consequence and pressure, and your major research projects in college will benefit tremendously.

3. Begin the college application process
Are you currently a junior, sophomore, or freshman? An extended vacation such as winter break is the ideal moment to start the application process for college or university. Gather information on institutions that interest you, as well as on their application requirements. Can you utilize the Common Application? What supplementary materials will you have to submit? Which standardized examinations, if any, will you need to complete? Before you return to school, with its multitude of demands on your time, outline the schedule you will follow in order to successfully apply – whether in the near future or two years from now. Don’t underestimate the amount of time required to solidify all details and tasks of the college admissions process – it is an incredibly smart move to begin preparing now, even in the smallest of ways!

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