How College Students Can Productively Use Their Winter Break!

How College Students Can Productively Use Their Winter Break

It’s hard to believe it, but the fall semester is already ending for most college students. Time to unwind, unpack, and enjoy good food and good times during your winter break! Of course, it can’t all be fun and games. You know you should probably try to be productive during your winter break, but what things should you try to get done? To help you out, here are some things to focus on before you join the 2.7 million passengers that fly through U.S. airports every day and soar back to your college campus for the spring semester.

Help out around the house

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s all too easy to overlook household chores that need to be done. And while your parents may not exactly expect you to do a lot around the house while you’re at home, you know they’d appreciate the help. Think back over your teenage years at home. What chores were you always responsible for? Who’s doing them now?

Taking out the garbage when it’s full isn’t a bad place to start, but you should probably go beyond that. Are there lightbulbs that need replacing? Have the carpets or bathrooms not been cleaned in a month? What about the safety features in your home, like carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers? Is everything in good working order? According to the Surgeon General, radon — a naturally-occurring gas that sometimes fills homes unnoticed — is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America today. Does your family’s home have the right safety precautions in place to prevent or recover from radon damage?

Think about things outside of the physical house as well. If you’re borrowing the family car while you’re in town, consider having it tuned up at the local garage. Or if you aren’t sure it needs any attention, check the oil, see when it was last replaced, and make sure the tires and fluid levels are where they should be.

Take some self-care time

Of course, you don’t want to fill all your time with chores. But you don’t want to party every night away, either. It’s estimated that 3 million patients visit urgent care clinics every week, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. Instead of waiting for an unexpected illness or injury to strike, get a checkup and do some self-care now.

Setting an appointment with a good doctor isn’t the only way to watch your health during winter break. You should also take time for yourself, not just to socialize, but for rest and recovery too. The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, so make sure you’re hitting that goal over your break as you might not always reach it during a busy semester. You could also consider taking power naps during the afternoon and then do some light reading during the evening to wind down. You know that you’ll be really busy once next semester starts, so now is the best time to give your mind and body a chance to relax.

Work on your professional skills

Did you know that a fear of public speaking can have a significant impact on your career? In fact, those who have this fear make roughly 10% less on average than those who don’t. Public speaking isn’t the only professional skill that’s relevant to your career success, but for most career paths it’s a great place to start. Consider signing up for an online class, buying a couple of books, and practicing good speaking skills in the mirror. For some more real-life practice, you could even request a chance to speak at your church or perhaps give stand-up comedy a chance at your local club.

Besides speaking, think about the additional skills that would likely come in handy in your future professional life that aren’t necessarily taught in school. Knowing good job interviewing techniques, practical social psychology, and even sales abilities are incredibly valuable skills for almost every career, as they all involve close involvement with other people.

If honing professional skills sounds like more work than you want to do over your winter break, maybe work on skills that won’t have a direct impact on your career, but could be fun to do anyway. Things like playing music or drawing are easy to pick up with the right learning method and they can dramatically boost your confidence. They could even improve your professional life without you even trying.

Update your resume

Among the other things students should do during winter break, updating your resume is perhaps the most important. Did you take on a new part-time job while you were at college? You should add this information to your resume in a way that’s compelling and applies to multiple jobs. Did you pick up any extra skills at school? These could be worked into your resume to make you more attractive to prospective employers.

While you’re thinking about work, there are several other things you can do to improve your employment options down the road. Set up professional profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook with an official headshot to show off your career confidence. Make a portfolio featuring samples of work you’ve done in the past, if possible. Put things like your past studies, letters of recommendation, and employment accomplishments online for the world to see. You could also do some networking to improve your chances of landing a great job out of school. Get in touch with past graduates from your school who share your major. You aren’t asking for work, just advice and perspective. Reach out to professionals who are doing what you want to do and offer to buy them lunch or coffee in exchange for an hour to pick their brains.

And there you have it: some ideas for things to do during your winter break. Keep in mind that you don’t have to check off all of these items. It certainly won’t help you to get overwhelmed with tasks on your to-do list. Remember, recovering and relaxing before the new semester is important, too. But by knocking out one or two of these ideas in the next few weeks, you’ll have a more productive break that you can feel great about.

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