Holiday Breaks – No Time to Waste

posted in: Careers, Choosing A School | 0

Often high school students think that school breaks mean sitting back and taking it easy. It is important to have some time to refuel during those much anticipated vacations, but you need to remember that time is of the essence during winter break. Many students across the country will take it easy but if you want to beat out the other two million students who will be graduating in the spring for scholarships, college admission, etc. you need to take advantage of this time.

You’ll have plenty of time to take it easy in the summer. Take this opportunity to recharge, expand your knowledge of your career choice, and target your energy for the final push of the school year. First, it is important to recharge your battery.

It has been a long haul since August with your classes, studies and college application process. Take some time to reflect over the semester – what went well and what you can improve upon. You want to finish strong, so take some time for yourself during this break to do some fun things to reward yourself for your hard work. Think of what energizes you and do that.

Try to do some recreational reading. If you are looking for a good, motivational, feel-good book, read the New York Times bestseller The Noticer by Andy Andrews. I read it recently and have shared it with others, who have shared it with others, and so on. Our principal is buying it for staff members and has ordered a classroom set for teachers to make available to students.

Try setting a schedule during your break to make sure you can fit in some time for fun and relaxation every day if possible. That will help you get ready to push yourself during the spring semester so you can finish strong with no regrets. Colleges will look closely at your spring semester, so plan ahead so you can make the most of it.

If at all possible during break, do more research into your career choice(s). Read a biography about a successful person in that field. If you can shadow with one or two people in your chosen profession, that will help you make the right college decisions.  When you shadow, ask the person which colleges have the most reputable programs and are producing the best people in that field. Or just as an extra opportunity to expand your job knowledge, you can even use the time to interview someone you respect who is a success – in your career field or another. Ask what they have learned to help them be such a success. Success strategies work in every field.

If you are still deciding on a college, do some more research. If you can visit the college campus that would be helpful, but it is not optimal to visit during their vacation times because you can’t get a true feel of the campus without the students present. But if that is the only time you can go, it will still help in your decision. Once you receive your college acceptance letters and make your final decision on a college, turn in your deposit as soon as possible so you get your priority choice in living arrangements, etc.

Continue your scholarship search and application process. Whatever you can do about this during break will help alleviate the pressure on you when you start back to school in January. During the holidays there are many volunteer opportunities available, so take advantage of any that your schedule permits. Try to get some experience in an area related to your career interests. Volunteering opportunities continue to help you develop your career passion and understandings.

The final strategy during break is to establish your focus and priorities for the spring semester because graduation will be here before you know it. Renew your commitment to giving your best and making the most of every opportunity possible. Next you need to set goals for how you want to finish this year. Remember, “Senioritis” often sets in and seniors lose their focus around March. Plan ahead for that and find people who will hold you accountable to continue working hard until the end.

Plan ahead for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Remind your parents that the sooner they can complete their income tax filings (for those states this applies to) the easier it will be on all of you. Go online to www.fafsa.ed.gov to see what it’s all about. Don’t forget that you can use the “Income Estimator” if you want to file your FAFSA before your parents have filed their taxes.

Remember the habits you finish with in high school will typically follow you into college. So plan ahead with your studying, and don’t procrastinate. This is your chance to develop good habits if you have been lacking in some areas – before you finish high school – so they will carry into college. You will be considered an “adult” soon, so this is the time to prepare yourself for that transition in life.

You’ve worked hard to get to this point! Use the upcoming vacation time to prepare yourself to finish strong with no regrets. Relax and do something fun everyday during break if possible. Learn some extra things about your career choice. Make a plan so you can stay on track in the next few months when you will be tempted to ease up. You are in the “home stretch,” the “last leg of your race.” For three and a half years you’ve been preparing for this. Savor the moments ahead. You’ve earned it!

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I am a counselor in the high school I grew up in, Green Mountain High School. My goal was to return to give back to the community for all they invested in me. As a song went many years ago, "I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside..." I have the best job in the world as a school counselor! My students inspire me every day!

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