Those last assignments are turned in and the final exams have been taken. Fall semester has come to a close and the freedom of winter break is finally upon you. Now the question is: what do you with it? What do you do with so much free time when are you are free from worries of schoolwork? Most students take the position of relaxing doing absolutely nothing else. There is certainly nothing wrong with that; after all, you deserve it after all the hard work you’ve done. But for those of you who want to accomplish something a little more, how can you best take advantage of this time off?
There are plenty of ways to use this break so you can feel like you’ve done something positive for your academic life and have made yourself somehow better prepared for the semester ahead of you. Although you initially may want to avoid doing any work at all over this next month, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can find yourself extremely bored at home when there is no school to keep you busy. You don’t need to be doing something heavy every day, but a few side projects to keep you intrigued can be a good idea.
Of course there is no shortage of things to do to keep yourself entertained over break, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that some of the activities you’re taking part in will improve your schooling experience? Just think about how relieved and content you’ll feel when you return to that first day of classes knowing that you have already taken care of some pressing needs for your academic support system. What are these needs exactly? They can be anything from getting the best deals on textbooks, to purchasing new notebooks, to reviewing the class syllabus, to familiarizing yourself with your schedule. This is the part where you can get creative and figure out what helps you personally in the classroom. What gets you excited for school? What makes the learning process easier for you?
If these questions are left until that first week back, you’ll probably be far too overwhelmed with all of the back-to-school commotion to really be able to focus on answering them. In situations like this, you look back and wonder why you didn’t take advantage of all that free time when you had it That is why it is best for you to make a priority list right away when your break begins so you have clear ideas of what you want to accomplish and how to get them done. Try not to make this list too lengthy or else you’ll find yourself intimidated by its plethora of work and be tempted to just push it aside. This list should inspire you by reminding you of things you genuinely want to get done that will make your life easier come mid-January.
Here are some guidelines to think about to help you get started on a productive winter break:
Fresh School Supplies: Go through all of the binders, notebooks, pens, rulers, and anything else that you would find necessary for a class. Sometimes it feels great to just go out and buy all new supplies for the next semester. However, sometimes it can also feel good to use up what you have. Perhaps you have a notebook that was barely written in past its first three pages from fall semester – instead of throwing it out, just rip out the first few used pages and label it for a different class. You may be able to accumulate a lot of fresh supplies just by breaking down the items you already have. On the same token, however, don’t always use certain supplies just because you already have them. If your highlighters are quickly drying out, go ahead and buy a new set. No need to feel obligated to suffer through that annoyance until the very last stroke of color. Have both sets on hand so nothing goes to waste, but that you are still prepared for a final malfunction at a moment’s notice. Most importantly, think carefully about what kind of note-taking each of your classes will require of you and assign various supplies accordingly. Make sure you have a notebook with hundreds of pages for that math class you know will be asking you to solve problem after problem and save those lesser-paged notebooks for other courses that are more discussion based. Whether you purchase all new items or get creative with what materials you have, just make sure your final set of supplies makes you feel refreshed and confident to approach the next semester. Here is some great information on how to save on college supplies that you may want to take a look at.
Rest: As a natural human being, sleep is one of the big necessities for any productive process. Get plenty of rest during your time off so you are guaranteed to feel very rejuvenated come the return of school. Moreover, getting enough rest during winter break will improve your progress of completing your priority list. A tired person cannot achieve these goals easily. Most importantly, you do not want to start off your spring semester exhausted before anything has even begun. You’re going to have plenty of time to be fighting for rest once the curriculum gets rolling – don’t make things harder on yourself than they need to be. As productive as you want to be over winter break, don’t work so much that you lose time to sleep. It can be tempting to stay up all night every night when you have no school in the morning, but doing that also makes you more exhausted the next day, even if you do sleep in. Practice the appropriate sleep discipline now and you will not only be more relaxed for the school year, you will be better trained to keep up this sleeping pattern throughout the semester. Here is some great information on the importance of sleep that you may want to check out.
Review Your Schedule: You might think, ‘I don’t need to worry about next semester’s schedule right now, I can just take a look at it a few days before the semester begins.’ You could do this, but it will just make digesting the schedule more of a challenge for you. Both reviewing the times and places of your classes as well as the content of your classes is very important. The earlier on that you get well-acquainted with this information, the better. If you gradually spend time over break checking out your schedule, you’re more likely to feel very comfortable with it by the time school starts up again. Memorizing everything in a rush the night before the first day of school is dangerous for the same reasons cramming the night before a test is dangerous – it is just not healthy and not promising. Make sure you have at least an idea of where each class is so you can visualize in your head how you’ll be getting there every day. Additionally, become familiar with the order of the classes so you can have a good idea of which areas you’ll be traveling between at what times. Get a feel for what kind of time crunches you’ll be under so there is no major pressure when the time comes. Take some time to review your course descriptions as well, if available. Some teachers even choose to post the syllabus online early which is something you should definitely take advantage of. It can be reassuring to know exactly what is going to be expected of you before that first day arrives when you’re already intimidated by everything else going on. This information can help you indicate what kind of supplies you need, how much class interaction will be involved, and how much outside study time you’ll need to set aside. Do your best to understand these elements of each of your classes and collectively look at them. That is a sure-fire way to comprehend what your next semester will be like and what kind of things you need to get done now to prepare for them. You may also want to take a look at these 5 new year's resolutions for school that may help you jump start your new year.
Ultimately, the key to a productive winter break is thinking ahead. Think of things that typically frustrate you in the middle of the school year that leave you to wonder: why didn’t I take care of this beforehand? Whether that be buying a sturdy enough binder for all of those English notes, having extra batteries on hand for your calculator, knowing how long it is going to take you to get from one morning class to the other, or being prepared with questions for your Physics teacher whose course is just daunting to you. Smooth things over now so you can be ready to go once the school year goes back into motion.