How to Use Your Winter Break Wisely: College Student Edition

Winter break during college may be short, but it’s a great opportunity to get prepared for the year ahead and recharge! If you want to make the most of your time off and the start of the new year, this list is for you. Here are some great ways to take advantage of your winter break:

1. Take Classes

Here are some things to do in winter.

Flickr user Patrick

Did you know that some colleges offer winter courses over this short break? They’re often known as J-Term. This unique semester presents opportunities for students to get ahead of their college requirements. The availability of this semester and the class options will vary from college to college, however, so it’s important to do your research and sign up as soon as possible!

Colleges that offer J-Term could have classes on everything from a crash course in Biology to painting lessons.

2. Work Off Your Loans

If you have academic loans, it’s important to pay these off whenever possible. Having student loans that hang over your head for decades is a terrible thing to endure. During the holidays, lots of businesses hire temporary workers to take on the rush.

If you can pick up a few shifts while you are home for the holidays, you may be able to knock a chunk out of your student loans. It may not be the most restful way to spend your break, but it is a great way to prepare for your post-graduation life when you wish that your student loans were a little less.

READ More >> 10 Great Ways to Make Money Over Winter Break

3. Read Ahead

Even though your spring classes don’t start for a few weeks, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a headstart. The more reading you do now, for instance, the less you’ll have to do later. You can pick up the books you know you’ll need and set some time aside each week to do some work.

If your professors released the syllabus, you can also use your winter break to create a schedule for the coming months. Highlight deadlines, major projects, finals, tests, and other important dates now so you have an idea of what to expect.

4. Apply for Summer Internship Positions

Summer internship programs often post their openings in early January. These jobs are extremely competitive and getting a headstart on your applications can give you an edge over other applicants. With time away from classes, you’re in a great position to really dedicate some serious time to your applications.

It’s also important to note that not all companies post their internship opportunities online or at least not in easy-to-find places. If there is a specific business or organization you’d like to work with, now is the perfect time to reach out to them and ask about potential internships.

You never know – they might create one just for you because of your interest! This exact scenario happened to me; I reached out to a company I was impressed with and they designed an internship that was related to my goals and their needs. The internship still exists today at the company as an opportunity for other students.

5. Relax

Of course, you should also take some time for you during your winter break. You need time to recharge after putting in such hard work during your fall semester, and you’ll have to do it all over again with your spring semester, potentially with harder courses.

Think about what’s important to you to relax. You might want to travel, or just stay home with family and friends. You could just veg out with Tiktoks and YouTube. Or you might want to read that fiction novel you’ve been putting off because you had so much work. It’s completely up to you!

6. Start a Resolution

It wouldn’t be a new year without a resolution! What will yours be?

Whatever it is, make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal. This means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Those who don’t make goals with these factors in mind could find their resolutions harder to reach. Many make the mistake of aiming too high, for instance, and it’s really not achievable. Or they could simply say “lose weight” without a real goal in mind and find it difficult to find the motivation they need to achieve their desired outcome.

If you’re not quite sure what resolution to choose, these ideas could be ideal for your college experience and beyond:

  • Read more. Read 1 book a month that isn’t required for a class.
  • Get out of the house/dorm more.
  • Join a club and stuck with it for the semester.
  • Get in shape. Exercise 3x a week at the campus gym.
  • Study more. Hit the books at least 1 hour a day 5 days a week.
  • Allow yourself to relax. Do at least one fun or relaxing activity a week.
  • Get organized. Plan your week every Sunday and spend 5-10 minutes a day cleaning up your desk.

Of course, you’re not limited to these suggestions! Consider what’s important to you before deciding on a resolution or two for the new year.

7. Complete your FAFSA

The revamped Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was delayed twice for 2023 for the 2024-25 award year. It now has a release date of December 31, 2023. What better time to complete it than right after it’s released?

This application is not just for incoming college students! College students should be completing it, too. It’s your ticket to federal student loans and potentially getting some financial aid packages from your state government, the federal government, and your school. You don’t want to miss out on free money.

It’s important to complete your FAFSA as soon as you’re able to this year and in the future, as financial aid money can and will run out.

While you should absolutely take time to relax and spend time with your loved ones, you can also take advantage of your winter break and really get a head start on the year ahead. Whether you decide to apply to internships, study for your upcoming courses, create resolutions, or something else, we hope your new year starts off strong and is a blast!

One resolution you could add to your goals for the new year? Apply to more scholarships! And we have the perfect tool to help you get started. Our Scholarship Search Tool makes it simple to find awards you qualify for. Get a head start on your resolution today!

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