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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

10 Ways for High Schoolers to Spend Spring Break

Do you have a plan for applying to college?

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With second semester underway, your daydreams may be turning to spring break. Will you spend it sunning yourself on a beach somewhere? Hitting the ski slopes? Maybe you’re going to visit some friends or relatives. All of these sound good to us, but there are also some ways to use your break productively.


No matter what you have planned for spring break, try to incorporate something productive too, to keep your momentum moving forward. In this post, we’ll outline ten ways to stay productive during spring break, even if you’ve already got big plans. To find out more, keep reading.



1. Work On Your College List

If applying to college is in your future, spring break is the perfect time to get serious about your college list. Not sure what a college list is? Check out our post The College List, Decoded: Safety, Target, and Reach Schools to get started.


Regardless of how much progress you’ve made on your college list, spring break is a good time to research schools, reach out to friends and family to learn more about colleges they think you’d like, and spend some time organizing your college materials.


For more about working on your college list, see these posts:


Seven Tips for Creating Your College List

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your College List

10 Considerations For Making Your College List

Is It Too Early To Be Making My College List?

3 Reasons You Should Start Drafting Your School List Now



2. Create a College App Timeline

As you’ve probably figured out by now, applying to college isn’t usually something that you spontaneously decide to wake up one morning and do. Instead, it takes some forethought and planning. Lucky for you, we already have a timeline ready for you to plug and play.


Start with our timeline, which can find in our post What is the Ideal Timeline for the College Application Process?


Review it carefully and then make a tailored version to use personally. Making a plan is a great way to hold yourself accountable and stay ahead.



3. Visit A College or Two

If there are schools local to you that you’re interested in, go ahead and plan a college visit. If you’ve just getting started, you might begin with a casual wander around the campus. If you’re more serious about the college, see if you can go on a more formal campus tour.


Alternatively, if there are no colleges nearby that interest you and you don’t plan to travel to any college campuses, check out the virtual campus tours available online. One popular site providing this service is eCampus Tours. Here, you’ll find a virtual tour of over 1,300 colleges searchable by state.



4. Get Ahead on Your Scholarship Search

Some scholarships have prerequisites that require extensive foresight. One example? If you want to be eligible for the National Key Club scholarship program, you must be a member of the Key Club with two years of tenure. Other scholarships have strict GPA or standardized test score requirements. Begin your research early and arm yourself with knowledge about the scholarships best suited to you. Spring break is the ideal time to put some energy towards your scholarship search.


To learn more about scholarships, don’t miss some of our favorite scholarship resources:


Getting a Head Start on Your Scholarship Search

15 College Scholarship Resources for High School Students

10 Weird College Scholarships You Should Consider

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

5. Take Personality or Career Tests

It’s never too early to bounce ideas around when it comes to your future. Taking personality and career tests can actually be a fun way to consider your options and to frame your unique strengths and interests in a productive way. Explore some of these tests online. Taking them with friends can even be a fun, social activity.


To get started, check out Career One Stop. Career One Stop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and provides career, training and job search resources. Interest and skills assessments give you an idea of careers you might possibly pursue based on your unique passions and experiences, while career profiles and videos provide insight into professions you might not have otherwise considered.



6. Build Study Habits

The saying about old habits dying hard is full of truth. If you want to develop far-reaching study habits and a work ethic that serves you well in the long run, now is the time to begin. Start by establishing a system of organization that works for you. Some students use a planner, others use a calendar, and still more use an app on phones or tablets.


Once you have a system of organization that works for you, start to consider your specific study habits. How do you learn best? How can you capitalize on it?


To learn more, check out these CollegeVine posts:


Eight Tips to Use Your Time Efficiently and Stay Organized in High School    

Time Management Tips To Make The Most Of Your Test Prep Time

Handling Your Homework: Time Saving Tips

Successful High School Students Do These 10 Things



7. Put in Some Test Prep Hours

Studying for SATs or ACTs isn’t just intellectually challenging. It can also be a real drain on your free time. Just taking and scoring a practice test can take up half a day. Take advantage of your free time over spring break and get ahead on your test prep. This is the perfect time to take a practice test, gauge your progress, and make a new study plan to move forward.


To learn more about how to structure your standardized test prep, see our tips here:


Tips to Prepare Yourself for Your SAT Test Day

How to Pace Yourself on Every Section of the SAT

Five SAT Strategies You Should Know

10 Tips to Prepare for the SAT

What Parents Need to Know about ACT and SAT Studying Prep

How Your SAT Score Impacts Your College Admissions

What Is a Good SAT Score in 2018?



8. Do Service Work

All strong college applicants will need to show that they care about the community around them. You can do this through a number of different ways, but consistently giving back to the causes that are personally relevant to you is a great way to show empathy and demonstrate that you’re a positive contributor to your community.


Ideally, you should aim to volunteer through organizations or programs with which you have an existing relationship. If you haven’t been involved in the past, choose a cause that is personally relevant to you or that’s closely connected to your interests or passions. Then, try to sustain your involvement past your spring break by maintaining connections and arranging for future volunteer opportunities the next time you have some downtime.


To learn more about volunteering, don’t miss these posts:


32 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers

Do I Need Community Service for My College Applications?

Community Service, Reimagined: MCC’s Recommendations for High School Service



9. Build Work Experience

If you need some extra hours at work to save some money, spring break is the perfect time to bolster that bank account. Even if you don’t need the money, dedicating yourself to your job shows an ability to commit and follow through.


If you don’t have a job, arranging to shadow a professional can be a worthwhile activity during spring break. Think of a career or profession that interests you and reach out in advance to find out if it’s feasible for you to follow a practitioner for a few days. Alternatively, network with friends and family to find someone working in fields that interest you. This will allow you to learn more about what these professionals do on a day-to-day basis. If you can make a few connections, capitalize on them by asking lots of questions: find out why they went into their chosen career, how they chose a specialty if relevant, and how they recommend you prepare for a similar career.



10. Bolster Your Life Skills

By the time you get to college, there are a few things you should know how to do in order to live independently. For example, you should be able to wash, fold, and iron your own laundry. You should be able to create and stick to a budget. You should know how to balance a checkbook. and cook a few simple meals. Maybe you’d like to learn how to change a flat tire or cook a few simple meals.


Whatever the case may be, taking some time over spring break to build life skills is an important an easily done task. To get started, simply find a family member, mentor, or coach who knows a skill you’d like to learn. Ask if he or she would be willing to give you a quick tutorial over break. Alternatively, look up the skill online and watch enough videos that you feel comfortable giving it a shot on your own.


Spring break is a time to cook back and relax without the everyday pressures of school work and extracurricular commitments. You have earned the chance to put your feet up and enjoy some relaxation. But just because you plan to spend some time relaxing, that doesn’t mean that you can’t also accomplish a few productive tasks over spring break. Use our tips above to turn your spring break into a fruitful respite.

Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!


Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.