Winter break is a great time to relax and spend time with friends and family. However, considering the breakneck schedules that most students keep, winter break is also a great time to catch up on stuff that you may not have time to do during the regular school year, such as wrap up those college applications or essays. Although you might be tempted just to snuggle up with hot chocolate all winter break, those deadlines are still hanging over your head. Here are some tips that can help you use your free time during Winter break to get on top of these goals and make those deadlines.
1. Polish Up Your College Essay
The college essay often strikes fear into the heart of many students, but the college essay is a perfect baby step into your college years which will be filled with writing assignments. If you have a good understanding of English Composition under your belt from high school, the college essay should not be too big of a problem. However, if you feel like your composition skills are lacking, now is the time to brush up. You can give your own self a crash course in writing by simply checking out a book from the library. Not only will this help you complete your college essay, but it will give you an edge when those college freshmen writing assignments start rolling in.
2. Make Your List and Check It Twice
Once, twice….you could probably check everything three times. Your application requirements are not flexible, so it is vital that you check, double check, triple check that you have covered all of your bases. You may think this is a no-brainer, but many students fail to follow all of the requirements carefully a nd then have negative results. So it is best to make an exhaustive list and then check it carefully.
3. Make Proofreading Your New Hobby
Every single thing you are going to submit needs to be proofread over and over. Your essay, your application, and any forms on which you have written anything. This is especially true if you are applying to a highly selective school. The things an application can get thrown out over is terrifying. Check all of your paperwork, and have others check all of your paperwork and then everyone check it one more time.
4. Don’t Forget The Recommendation Letter
The recommendation letter is an important part of your college application, and because getting this accomplished requires the cooperation of someone else, you should get on top of this chore early to make room for them. If the individual is going to submit the letter directly to the school on your behalf, then make sure to follow up with them and see if everything was submitted on time. If they are giving it to you, don’t be shy to ask for it so that you can have everything ready and in order.
5. Pay Your Application Fees
This is one step that will knock you out of the running for the college of your choice. Schools take the application fee seriously. Application fees should not be put off because they are so easy to forget.
If you do not pay your fee on time, your application will essentially do not apply. So all of your hard work was for nothing. There are programs for students who cannot afford their application fees. Contact the college admission office or your school counselor’s office to find out if you can get help if you need it.
6. Consider Safety Schools
Some students think it is bad luck to consider even not getting accepted to their number one choice school, however, having a safety school backup ensures that in a worst case scenario you have already covered the bases and still have time to get into college even if it is not your first choice. A safety school should be a school where you are nearly guaranteed to be admitted. This way you know come fall, you are going to college, somewhere.
The best idea is to apply to your first choice schools and safety schools at the same time, but if you do wait for your safety school, remember that many public colleges have later deadlines in the year than selective private schools, so you may be able to get those applications in later. But the best idea is to apply all at the same time.
7. Thank Those Who Helped
There is little chance that you will conduct your entire college application process by yourself. It is important to thank everyone who helped you out. Simple thank you notes are usually enough to show your gratitude toward those who wrote letters of recommendation, and those who helped in other ways as well. These individuals care about your future and are obviously an important part of your life. Showing your gratitude will help to continue nurturing these important relationships.
8. Don’t Procrastinate on FAFSA
You should start working on your FAFSA on January 1st. Submitting those applications is just your first step, now you get to figure out how you’ll pay for college. Getting your FAFSA completed is the first huge step toward paying for your education. If you will qualify for Federal PELL grants, you will want to get your application submitted as soon as possible because PELL works on a first come first serve basis.
Financial aid is usually available even to families with pretty high incomes, but if the FAFSA is not completed, you will never know what aid you are eligible to receive.
9. Don’t Stress
It may seem like a ton of stuff to do with very little time to do it in, but the important thing is not to stress. When you stress, you will start making mistakes that could have huge consequences. Make sure you give yourself some down time and remember that you are doing an excellent job.
10. Stay Positive
Once everything is done and submitted, you might be tempted to start obsessing on whether or not you will get accepted. The only thing you can do now is to wait and stay positive. Remember, you have done your best, and you are going to go to college, a privilege many people never get. You have plenty to be thankful for and positive about this holiday.