What to Do During Spring Break

With many students across the nation starting their spring breaks this week, I thought it would be a good time to review ways to maximize your vacation period. I want to first remind both students and parents that spring break should be a time for rest; burning out now will hurt you a lot in the long run. But there are still things you should be doing this week to keep on the college track.

For Freshman: If you haven't started to keep a list of your activities and accomplishments, do so now. When it comes time to write your resume for college, having a list of your greatest achievements in one, centralized source will make your 'brag sheet' much easier. It will also ensure that you leave nothing out. You should also start looking into scholarships you could apply for. Writing a simple 2-page essay could net you a quick $500 for college, and the money adds up really quickly if you commit do doing this for the next four years. Consult with your high school's counselors or with a website like FastWeb.com to find these opportunities.

For Sophomores: In addition to everything a Freshman should be doing, you may also consider starting a preliminary list of colleges that interest you. Keeping in mind the 10 things to think about when picking a college, develop a list of about 15-20 schools that interest you. You don't have to do a huge amount of research on each university just yet, but having this list will at least prepare you for some of the steps you will have to take in the future. You can always add or subtract colleges as you learn more.

For Juniors: In addition to the Freshman and Sophomore activities, you should spend your spring break gearing up for the SAT or ACT if you have not yet taken one. You don't need to enroll in a test prep class just yet, but consider a book like The Official SAT Study GuideOfficial SAT Study Guide to run through a few practice tests and see where you stand. You may also want to tour a few local colleges this week to help add to or subtract from your ongoing list. This is your most important spring break, so make sure to use your time wisely. You have your senior-year spring to party, so spend your junior-year one preparing for college.

For Seniors: Hopefully by now you have received a few college acceptances. Though many will not notify you until mid-April, having a college acceptance or two in hand by now is incredibly comforting. Keep up with scholarship applications, and schedule tours at the colleges that have accepted you to test them out. Many universities offer an "admit day" during spring break to meet with deans, staff, and faculty. Now is also a good time to finish planning your summer. Will you be taking a Summer Early Start program? Perhaps take a few preparatory community college courses? Get a job and earn some practical work experience and money? The choice is yours, but hammering out your plans now ensures that your summer is as productive as possible.

For more tips on how to plan your spring breaks and high school years, read my Action Plan Calendar.

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How about getting a good internship, or at least doing the research on one during spring break. Line one up for summer and you'll be very thankful.

- Donnie, 02/13/09 at 11:49 am

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