How to Use Winter Break to Help Your Students Prepare for College

Last updated: Oct 26, 2020

College counselors stay busy throughout the school year. Often, counselors use winter break to help them complete important tasks to help their students prepare for college. However, all the planning and time it can take might leave counselors feeling overwhelmed and tired. Instead of working your fingers to the bones, check out our time-saving tips to use winter break to help your students prepare for college, so there’s still time for you to have some fun.

Organize Yourself Before Winter Break Begins

As a college counselor, you stay busy all year, so using your time wisely is important. However, between the phone ringing, sessions with students, and meetings, finding the time to organize yourself may seem fleeting.

First, remember to take a moment to breathe and relax, so that it’s easier to organize yourself before winter break starts. Think about simple ways to remind your students of what’s ahead.

For example, you might want to make a school-wide announcement to seniors about finishing their college applications, or consider sending them and their parents an email reminder.

You can also email your juniors and their parents what they can expect as their senior year draws closer and what they can do to prepare ahead of time. This could include SAT and ACT prep tips and information about visiting colleges they’re interested in.

If you have tasks that need to be completed before you go on winter break, write them down and what the priorities are. As you complete something, check it off your list.

Encourage Your Students to Stay Focused

While many high schools have their students take semester exams before the break, depending on your school’s schedule, your students might take their exams after the winter break. In this case, students will need to stay sharp and study for their exams during the break.

Winter break is a great time for juniors to start making a plan for the college application process. Many of them could be finishing up their college applications or heading out to visit college campuses.

Continue to encourage your students to stay focused, especially seniors in their final semester of high school. Finishing high school strong is important and colleges want to see continued good effort.

High school student and parent talking with a college counselor.

Prioritize Winter Break Tasks

Because college counselors help many students through the college admissions process, they typically work some during their winter break. This work might include writing letters of recommendation, reminder emails, or timelines.

Write down what tasks you need to complete during winter break. Knowing what you need to complete will help you stay organized, focused and on track.

Remember to allow yourself time to enjoy your time off, too. You need to recharge your batteries, so you feel fresh for the second semester of the year.

Think Ahead to Stay Ahead

As you know, the last semester of the year is busy and packed with activities, exams, deadlines, and preparation. You’ll have sophomores preparing for junior year, and juniors preparing for senior year. You’ll also have your current seniors preparing for graduation and going away to college.

Parents and students may have a lot of questions, especially when it comes to preparing for college applications. Think about the most commonly asked questions and your answers. Write them down during your winter break, so you can easily create a FAQ sheet for parents and students when you return to work.

With these simple tips, you’ll have a productive and restful winter break. At USF, we’re here to answer your questions and provide you with useful information. Check out our counselor toolkit to learn more.

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