Congratulations on making it through fall semester! You’re probably ready to sleep late, visit with friends and family, and celebrate a holiday or two.
Enduring a semester is like winning a million dollars. You should celebrate and take a little time off. But overall, it’s a minor victory that doesn’t change your life very much. You should plan on going back to work sooner rather than later. If not, you may end up doing nothing but watching YouTube videos of clumsy kittens for the next few weeks, and you don’t want that, do you? (Hint: You don’t.)
So how do you enjoy your time off and use the time wisely? Here are some things to consider as you create your plan.
Rest: First things first. You’ve earned a bit of a break, so take it! Academic life gets intense around major deadlines, especially at finals. Being a good student requires creating a sustainable way of life, and rest is part of it. It’s good for you. You have my permission.
Think: You were probably asked to give some feedback about the courses you took. You probably had only a few minutes and couldn’t think of what you really wanted to say, regardless of whether you liked the courses or not. Think about them now. Keep thinking about them. What do you wish was different about the courses? What do you wish you had done differently? What will you do differently next semester?
Read: Reading is a central academic skill, and doing it well requires practice. But over your break, don’t read anything you don’t want to. Set a minimum amount of time every day that you will read something YOU want to read: classic literature, fan fiction, gossip blogs, world news, graphic novels. You can read old-fashioned paper books or electronic versions (computer, smartphone, e-reader). Just read! Enjoy yourself. I’ll give you bonus points if you think about how the writer accomplishes such interesting writing, but if that’s ruining it for you, forget I said that!
Explore: Go on your college’s web site and spend ten minutes looking for information you don’t already know. What services are available to you? Are there any professors in your major you don’t already know? If you don’t have a major, is there a career center that could help you make some decisions? What courses could you take to fulfill a requirement you’re not especially excited about taking?
Set Reasonable Goals: Some people get a few weeks off and try to do EVERYTHING they’ve always wanted to do. It’s a trap that leaves you feeling unaccomplished. Set one or two goals that you can reasonably accomplish. If you’re trying to learn guitar, master a song or two during your break. If you’re a writer, finish a story or a few poems.
Time off is a gift. You can’t save it. Time ticks away whether you use it well or not. So don’t squander it. Celebrate what you’ve accomplished as you look forward to next semester. It will be here before you know it.