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3 academically productive ways to spend your spring break

Campus in the spring
Campus in the spring

Like Winter Break, Spring Break represents both an opportunity for downtime and an opportunity for exploration. While enjoying peace and quiet can be a valid and wise decision, it is likewise easily abused. Before you decide upon a vacation that solely features your couch and TV, consider the three options below. Each is fun, as well as liable to increase your academic capital.

1. Learn a new subject virtually
Developing faculty in a subject previously unfamiliar to you need not be dull or overly time-consuming. In the vast majority of cases, it need not even tether you to your hometown. If you intend to accompany family or friends on vacation, strongly consider this option to enhance your Spring Break. It is convenient and effective, and the possibilities are as limitless as you imagine them to be.

Simply do the following—open the Apple, Chrome, or Google Play store on your computer or mobile device. Browse! Often, such app databases list programs by subject. Navigate to the education section to locate apps that are specifically designed with self-instruction in mind. Certain apps are even available for free. Star Chart, for example, is a lovely (and local) introduction to astronomy, while BioDigital Human is an anatomy primer. It is even possible to learn foreign languages and music!

2. Participate in an extracurricular excursion
It is not necessary to abandon all notions of exploring new places—as certain students are lucky enough to do each year—in order to maximize the usefulness of your Spring Break. Instead, combine this desire with the creation of a unique extracurricular detail on your Common Application or a meaningful paragraph in your admissions essay. Colleges and universities value prospective students who are deeply engaged in personal interests.

Attend a regional debate conference. Lend a hand in a Habitat for Humanity construction project. Travel to a museum or a scientific installation with a mathematics or physics club. Select a field you are truly passionate about and then search for opportunities on the internet, or speak to your guidance counselor or extracurricular advisor. Excursions like those mentioned above take place in a wide variety of locations. It is very likely that one will be exciting and unfamiliar!

3. Visit prospective colleges and universities
Perhaps the best academically minded use of your time this Spring Break is to arrange a trip to personally evaluate those schools that interest you most. While this is of special importance to seniors, who must select a college or university by April or May, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors can likewise benefit from an admissions road trip. (It is also an excellent way to bond with parents, siblings, and those friends who are dearest to you.)

Determine the number of schools you will visit, with an eye toward practicality (i.e. twenty colleges in one week is not feasible). Then call ahead—arrange campus tours, schedule meetings with admissions representatives and students. Do not underestimate the importance of planning your trip, as many individuals visit schools at this time of year. Request to sit in on a class, if possible, and draft a list of questions. Just as with studying for the SAT, your preparation will pay off!

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