Oh, is that you, winter break? I’ve been dreaming of and anticipating this moment since the start of the school year. For one month, I can decompress and put my stress about school to the side before I finish my last leg of graduate school – because if I had to comment on one more discussion post for my online class, I would scream and chuck my laptop out the window. I plan on relaxing, visiting my friends and family members, catching up on my shows, and getting refocused for the New Year. Now, before you trade your school clothes for sweatpants, use winter break to help you plan and get organized for college. It is an excellent time to stay on track and jump-start the college-planning process. To get you started, here are a few things to do over winter break:Drinking hot chocolate in front of a fire.

Search for scholarships

I know what you’re thinking: who is going to search for scholarships over break? But hear me out. You can still continue to spend time with your family and friends, plus check and recheck your social media accounts. It only takes a couple of hours throughout the week to search and fill out scholarship applications, and if you can do that, you’ll be organized and on track to meet scholarship deadlines. Check out ScholarshipQuest, a free database containing over 2,000 Nebraska-based scholarships. Did I mention it will find scholarships that match your profile? In addition to ScholarshipQuest, we’ve handpicked nine national scholarship sites to aid you in your search. I encourage my students who are considering going out of state for college to check them out! If you want more tips on how to maximize your searching efforts, review our scholarship tips.

Build your resume

Starting a resume now will allow you to list accomplishments, extracurricular activities, athletics, advanced-level courses, and work experience. An employer or recommender for scholarships may ask for your resume, so beginning one now will save you time later. Also, drafting a resume will make it easier when you are ready to list these items on scholarship applications. Updating your information and getting involved in school and community activities will put you one step closer to preparing for college. The toughest step can be structuring your resume; our Activities Resume is a helpful free tool that easily creates and customizes your resume.  Plus, you can save or send your resume as a Word document or PDF.

Volunteer with your friends and family

Let’s face it: the holidays bring out the spirit of giving, and volunteering is a great way to give back to your community. Volunteer options might include giving blood, tutoring, working with volunteer organizations, or coaching. Volunteering is a rewarding activity, plus college and scholarship providers enjoy seeing students become more involved. Oh, and if I forgot to mention it, volunteer hours might create scholarship opportunities and they look great on your resume! I consider that a win-win.

Explore old and new hobbies

As students, I know you’re busy with school activities and college planning. However, remember to take some time out for yourself and appreciate the things that you love, whether that is reading, writing poetry, or catching a movie. Let’s face it, this might be the only time you really get to indulge in those activities before summer.

EducationQuest will remain open during winter break if you want to take advantage of college planning, FAFSA, or verification appointments to help you along this college process adventure.