Leave a little room for textbooks in your suitcase
Spring break is here at last. Unfortunately, semesters don’t always end when a college student’s vacation begins. Learning to manage working while enjoying your time off is an essential skill for college life and beyond!
First: Make a plan. Since your brain is still in college mode, take advantage of it. Just as you do in the regular semester, put what you have to get done and related deadlines on a calendar and make a schedule to be sure you study some each day and more on days you aren’t actively involved in extracurricular fun. Making a plan now will prevent stress later and keep you from completely losing the rhythm of academic life.
Tell your family, friends and roommates that you have some work to do over the break. Letting people know in advance that you must do some homework over the break will make it easier for you to get it done. This way you won’t have to deal with others’ disappointment when you can’t do everything they’d planned with them. Also, they’re more likely to help by reminding you of your plans and giving you space and time to stick to them.
Keep up on your sleep and nutrition, and avoid ill people if possible. You don’t want to have to make up for losing a week of classes after coming back from a week off and get that much further from your college work and world.
Use the city library if you need a quiet place. Working at home, or wherever you’re spending break, may be difficult. Don’t forget that city libraries are almost everywhere (including tropical Spring Break getaways). They can be great places to work for a few hours in peace.
Use time waiting in airports, on long car rides or during bad weather days to study. Even intermittent studying will help your retention and processing and make returning to academic life easier. Use earplugs to block noise, or if you feel like you might need a disguise to avoid being forced to converse, wear earbuds and take an iPod and pretend it’s on when studying in a public place.
Just as important as studying regularly and using downtime to work is making back-up copies of your materials. Carrying notes and computers opens the possibility that they may get lost or damaged. Make back-up travel drives, e-mail work, photocopy or scan in notes, and, as always, save your work in at least two places.
Finally, if this is an appropriate time in your academic career to gain real-world experience, consider alternate Spring Break trips that focus on volunteer work for well-known organizations. These may include local entities such as Habitat for Humanity or domestic violence shelters. Some trips could involve living on and working at a camp for the disabled, a Native American reservation, a nature reserve, or going out of the country. Regardless of where you go, volunteer work can broaden your perspective and shape your goals.
Have a great break, Cats!
Susan Fitzgerald, MA and J. Lee Peters, EdD