Winter break is one of my favorite times of the year. As a high school counselor, I look forward to the long, quiet lull between mid-December and the new year when my schedule frees up and I have more control over my day. I’ve learned that it’s important to harness the gift of free time and use it to recharge and prepare myself for a strong spring semester. Students can and should do the same in order to become college and career ready. Here are three tips for educators and three tips for students on how to return to school in January refreshed and more focused than ever:
- Spend quality time with family, friends, or loved ones. Research shows that healthy social relationships have positive effects on mental wellness and life expectancy. Making time for interaction can be as simple as sharing a meal or workout with someone, or as intricate as planning and taking a trip together.
- Clean up your environment. It could be said that the level of chaos on your desk is indicative of the level of chaos in your brain. While not true for everyone, having things in their place will undoubtedly make you a more efficient human being and educator. Dust and organize your office, or tackle that desk drawer or file cabinet that you’ve been putting off. When the semester starts, you’ll be glad you did.
- Learn something new. Use this time to dig into a new book, podcast, or professional development resource that will help you help your students. The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath talks about how to create positive experiences for students that will resonate with them for a lifetime.
- Envision the future. Making a vision board is a great way for students to center themselves and think about postsecondary success. They can flip through magazines or print out pictures that embody their goals for the upcoming school year. Then, they assemble these words and pictures as a collage and place the final product where they’ll see it daily – it serves as a fun reminder of what they’re working toward.
- Research or apply for college scholarships. Paying for college is a real concern, and students can ease the process by applying for as many scholarships as possible. When the pace of daily life slows down, dedicating a little time to creating a scholarship list or gathering and organizing scholarship materials can seem less daunting. Students can start by using BigFuture’s Scholarship Search.
- Do good in the community. Students can find a volunteer opportunity that is in line with their interests. This not only benefits their community, but offers exposure to the professional world and potential career pathways. Students can use VolunteerMatch to search by city, area of interest, and age limitations.
Winter break is a reward for educators and students, but can definitely be used to make the new year even better. I hope you enjoy these tips on making the journey to college and career readiness smoother for Texas high school students. Cheers to 2020!