Ahhh, winter break! Time to rest and relax. It’s also a great opportunity to zero in on your future. For students with their eyes set on college, take the most of your winter break with these tips, inspired by Own Your Own Future's College Roadmaps.
Middle School –
- Take advantage of family time by asking about loved ones’ career paths. Did they attend college? What did they like? What would they do differently?
- Learn about career paths. Texas OnCourse has developed a fun online game to help you explore career paths, and learn what education and skills you'll need. Log on or create an account to play MiddleGalaxy!
- Once you’ve got your interests down, look into Endorsements to be ready for 9th grade.
- Still bored? Ask about volunteering! Walk dogs at a local shelter or clean up a park. Bring a friend! Volunteering is free and feels good.
9th Grade –
- High school grades affect what colleges you’re admitted to. If you have to read or finish a project, don’t procrastinate! Work on it a little every day.
- Broaden your mind and vocabulary by reading a book you enjoy.
- Consider your future. You can learn about how careers impact lifestyle at Texas Reality Check and see what they look like at Texas Career Check.
- Keep volunteering! Play games with the elderly at a nursing home or organize gifts at a holiday toy drive.
10th Grade –
- The SAT and ACT are still a year away, but it’s time to gear up your brain. Check out Spark Notes’ Smart Novels series or Twilight vocabulary workbooks 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 – help organize it this year! Leadership impresses colleges.
11th grade –
- Winter break of junior year is ACT/SAT crunch time!
- Start by timing yourself taking a full length practice test. Download SAT practice for free here and ACT practice here!
- Go over your practice test scores to focus on improving weak areas. If you’ve forgotten geometry, go to the public library and study up! If your vocabulary needs work, find tips online or read with a dictionary and notebook over break!
- Review webpages like College Board’s Big Future and the Department of Education’s College Scorecard to pick “safe” schools, “good fit” schools, and “reach” schools to send your scores to. Consider factors like majors, price, size, and location!
12th grade –
- Have you submitted all your applications? You may even have committed to a college! For your winter break:
- Submit any remaining applications. Send any new information if you’re deferred.
- Ask friends home for break from college about their experience! What was harder than they thought? What did they love?
- Keep applying to scholarships. Search online – your counselor or adviser’s website, college websites, even Twitter – to find scholarships that apply to you.
- Think seriously about finances. Make sure your parents understand what they need to complete the FAFSA. Consider student loans or employment for yourself.
We wouldn't tell you to work every second of your break. Your brain needs rest! But doing a bit every day – whether reading, volunteering, or making plans for your future – will make the path to college that much easier!