Next Semester Prep: What Students Should Do During Winter Break

Image by malan10, Flickr

Image by malan10, Flickr

Once fall semester ends, you may want to think of nothing more than the upcoming break. Winter break is an excellent time to rest, recharge and prepare for the coming year. However, to productively prepare for the next semester, take a little time during break to organize your upcoming agenda.

Evaluate Your Fall Semester
This may be your best opportunity to evaluate your academic plan and overall progress. Everything is still fresh in your mind. Before winter break makes all the good and bad experiences fade a little, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How did I meet my goals this semester?
  • Did I take too many/too few classes?
  • Do I make adequate time for study?

The answers to these questions can help you assess what to do differently next semester. If you have yet to see your academic adviser this school year, winter break is a good time to make an appointment. Discuss the classes you still need to take and ensure you are still in the right major for your career plans.

Plan for Next Semester
Make a list of the classes you would like to take next semester, with a few alternates in case you cannot get into one or two of them. This is also an important time to evaluate other needs, like work, sleep, recreation and family life. Be sure to find a healthy work/life balance. Remember, it is better to need one more semester of classes than to register for a large load, get overwhelmed and fail half of them.

Organize Textbooks
If you do not get a chance to sell your textbooks at the end of the semester, take a moment to sort through them now. Keep the ones you intend to use in future studies or as a reference. Sell or donate the ones you do not want to keep, to earn money for books needed for next semester. Books are usually easiest to sell a month or two before the next semester begins. Upon receiving your class list for spring, consider the many ways to save money on textbooks, including renting books or buying them used.

Apply for Education Financing
Your finances may be set for this academic year, but each year is different. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is not technically due until June 30. However, to get your share of grants and other non-student loan aid, apply as soon as possible after Jan. 1. If you do not already have a full scholarship, look at the thousands of available scholarships online. If you’re still overwhelmed with college finances, speak with your parents to develop a plan.

Review Ongoing Educational Concepts
Thankfully, most items on this to-do list shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Though this one may take a little longer, depending on your educational goals. There is always a bit of a regression when taking more than a week off school, especially if you are moving from one level to the next on the same subject. If you understand concepts relatively quickly, you might not need more than an hour or two the night before school starts again. However, if the mathematical concepts you once mastered now seem like a mystery, or if you forgot more French than you learned during the last semester, consider reviewing concepts a week or two earlier.

Enjoy winter break as much as possible. However, by spending a couple of hours each week getting your school responsibilities in order, you will start next semester refreshed, less stressed and ready to learn.

This article was contributed by guest author Alison Blankenship.

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