Winter break is a welcome relief, after a full semester of college study. For the full-time student, it’s thrilling to have some down time. However, when the holidays wind down, there are still several weeks of break left, and with family returning to a normal routine, it’s possible to find yourself a little lost, or even bored. Think about some of these worthwhile alternatives to your traditional mid-year break, and make the most of that time, rather than waste it.
Fill your time with service to others. Volunteer in your hometown, and if possible, find an organization which relates to your major or minor area of study. If you are studying to teach, make yourself available to your former elementary or middle school, in whatever capacity might be needed. If you are interested in a medical field, consider a special interest organization such as the American Cancer Society. Are you interested in a career in veterinary care? Volunteer at an animal shelter. Research, and make contact in advance, so that when your break begins, you can hit the ground running.
If your budget permits, make this a time of exploring new places. Whether domestic or foreign, you may find that post-holiday travel is less crowded, and a great way to fill your down time with something new and interesting. Pick an area that interests you in terms of activity, scenery, or attractions. Keep weather conditions in mind, as well. This is a great time to investigate national parks, particularly in more Southern locations. If you love amusement parks, winter rates tend to be much less expensive. Make sure you go on weekdays, when school-aged children are in class. If you want to combine volunteerism with your travel, think about a short term mission trip. There are many possibilities, and time to fill. Plan ahead, so you can get the most bang for your buck.
Develop a professional relationship with a business which relates to your major, and maintain that relationship during your vacation time. If your area of study is interior design, find a firm which will allow you to work in the office, assisting in basic office duties, or directly assisting an interior designer. If you are pursuing a degree in dentistry, inquire of your own dentist for a short term internship. If you have a relationship with a professional in your area of study, it’s much more likely that you will find that person interested, and willing, when it comes to your request for practical experience.
Work ahead of time with your advisor, and plan to spend your winter break in a short independent study program. Your volunteer activities can be planned in such a way that they meet an educational goal, and help you get closer to your degree. Likewise, your travel can be planned in such a way that it allows for the earning of credit for independent study. A short-term internship, as well, may fit the criteria for independent study credit. As you consider your winter break in advance, and as your plans come together, make it a point to present your idea to your college advisor in advance, as well, so that all criteria and requirements for earning such credit can be determined.
There are plenty of creative pursuits for the college student who wants to make the most of winter break. Make your vacation a productive time, whether it’s through community service, travel, or hands on learning in an internship. You may even be able to make that time academically beneficial.