Happy holidays, Magooshers! I hope you had a relaxing Thanksgiving break. I sure did (burp). Anyway, it’s now that special three-week period between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. And there’s so much you can…
Hey, where are you going!? It’s not time to wrap (or unwrap) gifts! It’s not time to play in the snow or drink various types of nog!
It’s time to be productive!
Look, I don’t mean to go all Grinch on you, but there’s a lot to do before you can say “goodbye” to the fall semester and the year. For high school juniors and seniors, now is an important time to buckle down and get to work. If you do, the holidays will be all the sweeter.
First and foremost, the December ACT/SAT is the last testing sessions that most colleges will accept in considering your application. (Some college don’t accept the December ACT/SAT, so be sure to check!) Like when buying gifts for loved ones, a lot of you guys wait to the last minute. So if this is you, we need to make sure the December ACT/SAT is not just your last, but also your best performance.
If you’re a senior, it’s time to continue your ACT/SAT study schedule up until the last day. After the test, take the rest of the day off. Your brain won’t be good for much, so don’t try to study for exams or write college essays.
If you’re a junior, it’s not necessary to take the ACT/SAT at this time. Yet if you’re an overachiever, a December ACT/SAT score will give you a great heads-up on what to study to prepare for the March (or April) ACT/SAT. Why take the ACT/SAT so soon? If you can learn from your mistakes now, you won’t need to retake the ACT/SAT the December of your senior year!
Okay, seniors, this section is all for you. Most deadlines for college admission are January 1st, and you need to make sure your applications are in the (e)mail before then. When it comes to college applications, I can’t stress enough how important organization and checklists are to admissions success. If you don’t know the answers to the following questions, you need a better system of organization:
- Are your college essays at the first draft/getting there/perfect stage?
- Have your teachers sent their recommendations?
- Have you bought each of them a Thank You gift?
- Has your school sent off official copies of your transcripts?
- Has the ACT and/or College Board sent ACT/SAT scores, SAT II scores, and/or AP results?
- Have you paid your application fees?
With a system of organization, your stress will drop faster than the ball on New Year’s Eve.
Midterms (and Stress)
Last, but not least, are midterms. These exams will likely take up the last week of school before break. With so much going on at once, it’s easy to feel like you’ll fail a class, bomb the ACT/SAT, and miss something important when applying to your dream college. To make sure that you succeed on your midterms (and stay sane), here are some tips and tricks to help you spin plates during this busy week.
- Plan your time. You’re not Superwoman (or Superman), and there are only so many hours in a day. When you get home from school, chart out how you’ll use your ‘productive’ evening hours. Is the Math midterm tomorrow? Then maybe studying for Math will take up 80% of your time. You can make up working on your college essays the next day. As long as you have a system, you are way ahead of your less-organized peers.
- Take breaks. No matter how you plan your time, take at least a 10-minute break each hour.
- One thing at a time. When you’re studying, writing a college essay, or taking a midterm, make sure that that activity has 100% of your attention. It can be tough to train your mind to ignore other distractions, but when you’re working on something, you need to shut everything else out. Why? In my experience, nothing drains energy faster than worrying about other things when you have important work in front of you.
- Remember what Elsa said. You know, it was something about…letting stuff go. But seriously, if you should stumble a bit this week, try not to let that affect your performance on other tasks. Everybody makes mistakes.
- Visualize Winter Break. No matter what work you have on your plate, keep in mind all the ‘not school’ that is coming up in just a few short days. The midterms will end, the ACT/SAT will be over, and your college applications will be on their way. Most importantly, you’ll have two weeks off.
Well, Magooshers, I’m not going to lie: you certainly have a lot to do between now and the end of the semester. Even so, take solace in the fact that all your peers are in the same boat with you. Focus, work hard and apply yourself. That’s a recipe for success. Try not to get it confused with the recipe for sugar cookies.
Till next time.
The gifts for your teachers are really the most important part. 😉
About Thomas Broderick
Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.
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While you’re on break over the holidays, it’s easy to get into a lazy mode where you sit around doing nothing with your days, letting them mesh into one long continual nap fest.
While there is some value in getting shuteye, there’s only so much rest necessary and, to be fair, you do have other, more important things to do.
Like what, you ask? Don’t worry! We’ve compiled a handy list of helpful suggestions of things you could, should and will likely want to do over your holiday break.
So, make the most of every moment – you’ll be happy you did once you’re back into the swing of second semester!
1. Apply for scholarships and internships
If there was ever a time to apply, it’s now! You don’t have to spend the entire break applying for scholarships, but even if you devote a few hours to your scholarship applications; it will make a world of difference in your search. After all, it only takes one to win!
Here are some great resources to help get you started in your scholarship search:
• Black Friday Scholarships & Internships
• Let’s Talk Scholarships: Application Tips
• The 7 C’s of Winning Scholarships
• A Balancing Act: School and the Scholarship Search
• Scholarship Scam Red Flags
• Organizing Your Scholarship Search
• Fastweb’s Scholarship Directory
The same goes for your internship applications. It’s important to keep focused on your internship search throughout the year and never give up!
Here are some helpful resources to help in your internship search:
• 10 Ways to Stand Out at Your Internship
• College Bucket List: Complete an Internship
• Interning During the School Year
• Internship Interview Tips
Don’t forget, you can always arrange an informational interview or job shadow to learn about new career prospects (and network), too!
What better to get you in the holiday spirit than baking a pie? Your home will be filled with a delicious aroma and you’ll have a great gift to take to a holiday party or share with any house guests that stop by.
Check out Homemade for the Holidays for more great ideas for homemade holiday gifts.
3. Catch up with old friends (and stay in touch with new ones)
Pretty much everyone you went to high school with will be off school for the holidays. You can use this time to catch up, relive old times and get the gang together to reminisce about the good ol’ days.
Utilize tips to stay connected with old friends, like:
• Keeping in Touch
Stay healthy and combat the holiday bulge by keeping up with a regular exercise regimen. You’ll look – and, more importantly, feel – better.
Here are some resources to keep you motivated, healthy and on the right track:
• Helpful Student Health Tips
• 10 Scientific Reasons You Need a Good Night’s Sleep
• Stress Relief for Students
5. Plan next semester’s schedule
It’s time to get a jump start on planning next semester while you have time and there’s no time like the present!
Additionally, you should start creating a game plan for next semester now, before you get too busy to do so later.
6. Revamp your resume, cover letter and/or essays
Whether it’s a job, internship or college application resume, cover letter or essays, updated documents are always good to keep on hand at all times – after all, you never know when you might need them!
Opportunity knocks the moment you’re least expecting it so it’s always best to be prepared at a moment’s notice.
As a result, take the extra time during your break to work on all your important documents, adding any extra information you have had since you last updated them.
If you need any extra tips or reference materials, here are some helpful resources.
• Diversify Your Resume
• Writing a Resume Fresh Out of College
• 10 Professional Email Tips
• 7 Job Hunt Mistakes New Grads Should Avoid
• Recent College Graduate Resume Sample
• Receptionist Resume
• School Teacher Sample Resume
• Financial Analyst Sample Resume
• Cover Letters to Get You Hired
• Top Ten Cover Letter Tips
• Recent College Graduate Cover Letter Sample
• Ten Cover Letter Don’ts
• Internship Cover Letter Sample
For College Applications:
• College Application Resume Sample
7. Catch up on your reading
What we’re suggesting here is the kind of reading you actually enjoy – not your required reading for school. Seriously – when was the last time you read a book that you didn’t have to? Pick up a book because it looks interesting, cozy up and get lost in it. Enjoy – you’ll be happy you did!
Need a book suggestion? We’d recommend starting at the top and reading through all of the completely amazing, life-altering books on this list. Try this list if you’re looking for books that multi-task as standardized test-prep.
8. Spend quality time with family
You love them and they love you. No matter how much you hate to admit it, you miss them terribly. Why wait until the holidays to catch up with family?
Here are some tips to stay connected and deal when the going gets rough:
• What to Keep in Mind While You’re Keeping in Touch
• What Do I Need to Stay in Touch?
9. See a movie
Some of the best films of the year are released during the holiday season and, since you have a lot of free time on your hands, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage!
Ask a friend, family member or longtime crush to join and, perhaps, splurge on sharing that jumbo popcorn.
If you miss being at school, why not watch one of these 20 Must-See College Movies?
The holidays are a great time to volunteer. There are so many options out there, with something suited to everyone.
Check out the many resources available to find what you’d enjoy most:
• Student Volunteer Opportunities You’ll Love
• Top 10 Places for Students to Give Back
• Volunteer Scholarships
What else do you like to spend time doing over your holiday break?
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