Spring break is a much needed vacation from school, but don’t let the week pass you by with nothing to show for it.
Planning for college takes time, but it can be tough to fit it in when you’re busy with school, sports, volunteering, extracurriculars, competitions, and spending time with family and friends. Take advantage of the extra free time you have over spring break by doing a little planning for college.
Here are two college-prep tasks to make the most of your spring break:
1. NARROW DOWN YOUR COLLEGE LIST
Having your college list started early will help you focus your energy during high school. This is a very important first step to figuring out what type of requirements you need to meet (standardized test scores, course rigor, level of involvement and achievement, etc…)
Whether you’ve already applied and you need help picking a college, or you’re just a freshman trying to figure out where to start: spring break is a great time to think about your college list. First, create your college list, then narrow it down and prioritize colleges by interest level and likelihood of acceptance.
Here are some factors to consider when narrowing down your list:
- School size
- Academic programs
- Activities available to students
- Campus culture and atmosphere
Next, separate your list of schools into categories:
- Dream Schools (High Interest Level/Low Acceptance Rate)
- Interest Schools (Moderate Interest Level/Average Acceptance Rate)
- Safety Schools (Low Interest Level/High Acceptance Rate)
Take some time to journal over break about your thoughts, feelings, concerns, and questions about the schools on your list. How do they compare on each of the factors above? Why did you categorize them the way you did? This will help you narrow that list down – and maybe even make a decision!
Download this printable College List Worksheet to get started on this task:
2. SEARCH & APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
Spring break is a great time to search for scholarships. Not only will this help you prepare for the scholarship application process that you’ll go through your senior year, you can also start earning money for college now. There a ton of scholarships out there for juniors, but there are others that are open to all high school students.
Seniors, don’t be discouraged, there are still scholarships out there that you can apply for, but you have to invest time in searching!
Finding scholarships you’re eligible for takes time. Then, you have to apply, and probably write an essay. It’s kind of like having a lot of extra homework, with one major exception: you can earn MONEY for college by taking this “homework” seriously.
Winning scholarships is a job.
In fact, if it takes you a total of 10 hours to find just one $750 scholarship, fill out the application, write the essay and submit all of the required materials, receiving that scholarship would mean you made $75 per hour! That’s way better than a part-time job (and many full-time jobs)!
BONUS TIP: Before you start signing up for college search websites and submitting applications, sign up for an e-mail address that is professional. This is the one you will want to use for everything college and scholarship related. For instance: FirstName.LastName@example.com
Wondering where to look?
- Check out our post about where to ACTUALLY look for scholarships! Hint: don’t forget about those small local awards – they add up quickly!
- Even if you’re not a senior, you can be searching and applying for scholarships. Our friends at JLV College Counseling do a wonderful job of compiling lists of scholarship opportunities for students of all ages!
Finally, stay organized on your search. Use our scholarship tracking spreadsheet to keep track of deadlines, awards, requirements and more.
Download the Scholarship Tracking Spreadsheet:
Let us know in the comments below what progress you made over spring break! Do you feel more prepared?