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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Tracewell

Spring Break: 10 Ways to Get Ahead

Spring break is just around the corner! Yes, you can relax, hang out with friends, and watch your favorite shows — but don’t spend all your time on that! Take even an hour or two a day and focus on getting ahead. Spring break offers the perfect opportunity not only for some leisure time but to also tackle some priorities that will provide you with a smoother transition into your life after high school. Here are our top ten ideas to crush your personal and academic goals over spring break.

1. Apply for scholarships

College-bound seniors, many scholarship deadlines are quickly passing, so don’t hesitate on this opportunity for free money! You’ll thank yourself later for having less school debt! Another rule of thumb in scholarship searching is to start close in — begin with your smallest pool of competition and then work your way outward; for example, begin in your own community, your parent’s workplace, the college you plan to attend, your state, and then national scholarships. Find great lists of scholarships at Oregon Goes to College and Oregon Gear Up. Read our comprehensive scholarship post here.

2. Research colleges, trades, military, and work options

Juniors should already be doing college, trade school, military, or other workforce research. Whether you’re taking advantage of virtual tours or using your extra free time to research college options on Big Future and Overgrad, this is the time to start getting a clearer picture of where you’d like to apply in the fall. Also, check out this Step-By-Step Guide to Choosing a College from the College Essay Guy!

For those interested in the trades, visit the Oregon Apprenticeship website to get ideas on what’s out there. In addition, many of our community colleges have trades programs, so don’t forget to check that out.

If you've ever considered the armed forces, then review our post on your military options, and talk to friends or family members about their experiences as well.

3. Plan your summer

Start thinking about how to spend your summer! Learn something new, build your leadership skills, explore careers and of course, have fun! Visit this list of Oregon summer camps and programs and check out each website for information on dates, rates, and application deadlines.

4. Set foot on a college campus

Go on college tours: whether you’re a junior or sophomore, even a freshman, it’s never too early to start exploring potential colleges. Here are some of our tips as you consider where and how to visit. Also, take advantage of virtual tours!

5. Volunteer or work

Breaks are the perfect time to volunteer or work! What you do outside of school matters, not just in building your own character, but in building your resume. Most college and scholarship applications will ask you to provide details about these areas of your life. Read our blog for internship resources across the state.

6. Work on a foreign language

If you’re college-bound your university likely requires two years of a foreign language. And if you’re not, it’s still exciting and rewarding to learn another language! Chances are you’ve already started learning one, so use spring break to get très creative and have fun with your language practice. Check out these ideas to spice up your boring grammar exercises!

7. Decompress

We’ve all had a rough couple of years. For everyone — the college-bound, those headed to the workforce, the trades, the military, or the unknown, spring break can be a time to think about your life goals and spend some leisurely time renewing your soul. Try journaling, planning a spring garden, painting, writing poetry, hiking a new trail, reading that favorite book, spending time with grandparents or loved ones, creating a special meal, or doing whatever brings you joy.

8. Study for the SAT or ACT

Though many colleges remain test-optional, we’re recommending that juniors register and do their best on one of these entrance exams. Once you’ve signed up, check out our favorite resources to help you prepare.

9. Work on your budget & finances

Once you know how much financial aid your future school will provide, you can determine what your remaining cost will be. With that number in mind, we encourage you to make a plan for how you’ll pay for it: scholarships, a job, loans, parent help, etc. Use this free Create a Budget worksheet to master your finances!

If you’re not college-bound, you still need to know how to manage your money when you’re on your own. The most important thing to know is how to live within your means. Simply put, don’t spend more than you have. You don’t need complicated worksheets, but it’s helpful to use a spreadsheet or budgeting app to track your non-negotiable expenses like rent, food, utilities, and your monthly income, and then keep it balanced.

10. Practice cooking

Have some fun with food over spring break! Eat well, my friends! Balanced and healthy is the key. My guess is that so far in life, you have not been 100% responsible for your meal planning. If you’re heading to college where there are meal plans to choose from, you still won’t be 100% responsible for your eating, but you will have a higher level of accountability for your eating habits. And if you’re moving out on your own, or living off-campus, you need to figure out how to plan your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Learn at least 10 simple and nutritious recipes before you leave home.

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