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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

4 Ways to Get Back into the Swing of High School After Winter Break

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The holidays can provide a much needed break from classes, school work, extracurriculars and more. While some students can switch from baking cookies to producing papers with no problem, others might have a difficult time focusing or getting back into the swing of their academic routines after a 3 or 4 week break.


If the end of the school year feels like it’s lightyears away, or if visions of sugar plums are still dancing in your head, don’t panic. Keep reading for tips and tricks that can help you transition back into the school year after a long winter break!


Plan ahead


Have you ever jumped into a hot bath only to jump right back out because you discovered the water was unbearably hot? If this has ever happened to you, then you probably know that the best way to get yourself adjusted to a hot bath is to heat the water up gradually, starting it off at a comfortable warm temperature and adding more hot water as you see fit.


You should try to approach your return to school this way—if you try to jump right in, you might get burned, but if you make gradual adjustments, you’ll find yourself comfortable and doing well! Transitioning from a relatively easy schedule to a busy one is hard for everyone, and you can make things much easier on yourself by planning ahead!


It would be very hard, for example, if you had to go from sleeping in until noon everyday to suddenly waking up at the crack of dawn 5 days per week. To avoid this kind of shock to your system, try to go to bed and wake up one hour earlier each day the week before you need to be back at school.


The same thing goes with doing schoolwork—it’s very hard to go from doing no work at all to reading 100+ pages per week. If you don’t have any homework due over your break, then try picking up a book at least a week before school starts to get back in the habit of reading! The book can be anything, maybe you decide to re-read your favorite novel or maybe you want to pick up the book that you received as a holiday gift. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could even get started reading the book that you know you’ll be tackling in school throughout the break!


If you do have homework over winter break, try making a schedule so that you can finish it one or 2 weeks before school starts rather than cramming it all in at the last minute and then having to go back to school immediately—talk about a buzzkill!


Set goals


The New Year is a great time to think about how your year went—what was successful for you? What would you like to do differently?


Maybe you want to finally get rid of your pesky procrastination habit, or maybe you want to make the honor roll. Perhaps you want to join that extracurricular you’ve been thinking about joining, or maybe you’ve resolved to finally ask out your crush!


Whatever your aspirations are, setting goals is a wonderful way to motivate yourself and keep your own promises. So, when the new year strikes, think about what goals you’d like to set, both long and short term, and think about how you’d like to achieve these goals! These could be New Year’s Resolutions or just general goals in school. Once you know what you’re aspiring to, it will be a lot easier to make a plan and reach the goals that you’re setting for yourself.

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Set a schedule


If you know that school is going to be brutal once winter break is finished, try setting a schedule to help you get more done. This could be a weekly schedule, a monthly calendar or a daily to do-list, whatever works best for you. A lot of people benefit greatly from having a visual representation of the amount of time in the day compared to how much work they need to do. You might also consider trying out different scheduling methods to see which one ends up being the most productive!


When you are making your schedule, be sure to leave in time for your obligations, school and otherwise, your SAT/ACT prep, your extracurriculars, and volunteering that you might do, exercise, time with your friends, and all the other little activities that make you who you are!


Be Patient


Finally, be sure not to be too hard on yourself. Transitioning is never easy, especially if you’ve had a very big change of pace during winter break. Everyone struggles with adjustments like this, you might even notice that your parents have a hard time going back to work after a few days of holiday break.


If you can, try to plan in some extra breaks and downtime during the first week that you are back at school. You might even consider doing something extra nice for yourself at the end of the first week, that way you can have something to look forward to. Maybe this will mean taking a nice long bath, buying yourself a new book or a new journal, or even starting on that new season of your favorite show that you’ve been waiting to binge-watch.


Keep in mind that even if you plan ahead, you might not be able to jump back into the swing of things right away—and that’s okay! Just as long as you’re patient with yourself and learn not to criticize yourself too harshly, we’re sure that you’ll be back to your old school-year self in no time. And no matter what happens, there are only 6 months left until summer break!


Final Thoughts


Getting back into the swing of things after a long break won’t be easy, but with some thoughtful planning, it can be made significantly easier. If you feel yourself starting to panic, just stick to the plan—plan ahead, set goals, set a schedule, and be kind to yourself! With a little patience, you’d be surprised at how far you can go.


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Devin Barricklow
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Devin Barricklow is a Political Science and Creative Writing double major at Columbia University. She’s really excited to be able to share her expertise about the college process with students who need advice. When she isn’t writing for CollegeVine, she enjoys reading the poems of Mary Oliver, going to concerts in the city, or cooking (preferably something with lots of bok choy and ginger).