College-bound? Maximize your winter break!
Winter break is an important period of time every year to rest and relax. However, it’s also a great opportunity to take your focus off everyday homework tasks and zero in on what is important to you in your future. Below are some tips on how to make the most of your winter break, from grades 7-12, as inspired by Own Your Own Future's College Roadmaps.
Middle School -
- Take advantage of time home with family to ask loved ones about their paths to career. Did they attend college? What did they like, and what would they do differently?
- Learn about career paths that you may have never considered. A fun resource is the Roadtrip Nation webpage, where you can take a quiz about your interests, and then learn about real people who share your passions!
- Once you’ve taken inventory of your interests, make sure you understand and have considered your Endorsements in preparation for 9th grade.
- Still bored? Ask your parents if you can volunteer! You can walk dogs at a local shelter, or participate in a park cleanup. Bring a friend for a free activity that also feels good!
9th Grade -
- Remember that all of your high school grades are important in determining what colleges you will be admitted to. If you were assigned reading or a project, don’t procrastinate! Work on it a little bit every day!
- Broaden your mind and your vocabulary by reading a book you enjoy.
- Start to ask yourself what you might like to do with your future. You can learn about how your future career will impact your lifestyle at Texas Reality Check, or about what different careers look like at Texas Career Check.
- Keep volunteering! You could play games with the elderly at a local nursing home, or help organize gifts at a holiday toy drive.
10th Grade -
- The SAT and ACT are still a year away, but it’s time to start gearing up your brain. Improve your vocabulary with materials such as Spark Notes’s Smart Novels series or Twilight vocabulary workbooks allow you to learn vocabulary while reading for fun.
- Khan Academy can help you assess and improve your weaknesses in math!
- Keep building your portfolio of community service. Maybe you’ve already volunteered with a toy drive and want to help organize this year! Taking on leadership is a great opportunity to impress colleges, or learn about potential future career avenues.
11th grade -
Winter break of junior year should be ACT/SAT crunch time!
- Start your winter break by timing yourself taking a full length practice test. Download SAT practice for free here, or ACT practice here!
- Once you’ve taken a practice and reviewed your scores, you should have a better understanding of your weaknesses. If you’ve forgotten geometry, go to the public library and find one of many resources to help you with the math portion! If your vocabulary is down, find tips online, or challenge yourself to read with a dictionary over break!
- Review webpages like College Board’s Big Future and the Department of Education’s College Scorecard to make sure you have picked “safe” schools, “good fit” schools, and “reach” schools to send your scores to. Keep in mind factors like majors, price, size, and location!
12th grade -
Depending on what schools you are applying to, you may not have submitted applications, or you may already have committed to a college! For your winter break:
- Submit any remaining applications, and if deferred, send a letter or new information.
- If you’re seeing friends home from college on Christmas break, ask them about their experience! What was harder than they thought? What did they love?
- Keep applying to scholarships. Your college counselor may have a resource on their website, or even a Twitter to help you find scholarships that apply to you.
- Think seriously about finances in preparing for college. Make sure your parents understand what documents they will need to collect in the next month to complete the FAFSA, and consider whether student loans or employment are good fits for you.
Texas OnCourse would never encourage you to be working every second of your break - your brain needs rest! - but doing a little bit every day, whether it be reading, volunteering, or making plans for your future, will make the path to college that much easier!