Top 5 College-Related Things to do During Winter Break

Female student using laptop in a purple-walled cubby.

The weeks from mid-December to New Years Day are a terrific time to knock out some of the tasks related to preparing for your college years. We’ve compiled this handy list of steps you can get done between sipping cocoa and watching movies, no matter where you are in the college-prep process. 

Just getting started (junior year)

  1. Visit websites. Check out what each school offers and determine whether if fits your academic needs. If a university doesn’t offer the major you want, cross it off your list. Also look at tuition and fees, housing options and student support services.
  2. Plan your letters of recommendation. Many high schools have a process for asking teachers for letters. Find out what yours is and decide whom you might want to ask.
  3. Volunteer. College applications and scholarship applications ask about your history of community involvement. The holidays are a great time to start beefing up your volunteerism list.
  4. Talk with your parents. They probably have some thoughts about what will be a good fit for you (and the budget).
  5. Investigate scholarships. Knowing what requirements are needed to land specific scholarships can allow you to get started working on them now.

Ready to apply (senior year)

  1. Turn in applications. Nearly every college and university allows students to apply online. Still, you’ll probably have to snail-mail some supporting documents, such as your official transcripts. Most schools also charge an application fee, so have a credit card number at the ready.
  2. Schedule tours. You probably won’t be able to get a tour during winter break because campuses are deserted. But you can reach out to the universities that you want to visit and schedule a tour in the new year.
  3. Turn in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you haven’t done this task already, don’t delay. When it comes to FAFSA, which opens to applications on Oct. 1, the earlier, the better.
  4. Gather documents. You won’t get an admissions answer from the colleges you apply to until your file is complete. The list of required documents varies, but some common things are: official transcripts, immunization records, housing applications, letters of recommendation and official ACT/SAT scores. 
  5. Volunteer. Students with a long history of volunteerism and community involvement are more attractive to scholarship award committees.

Nearly done (admitted students)

  1. Scholarship applications. Now that you are admitted to a university, you can apply for their internal scholarships. Applications take time and thoughtfulness, especially the essay portion. Set aside time to work on these and think of the process as being a job.
  2. Set a reminder. Your high school will have to send an official final transcript to your university after you graduate. Set yourself a reminder to make arrangements for that after winter break.
  3. Work. If you have a job, take as many hours as you can to add to your college savings account. If you don’t have a college savings account, start one now.
  4. Volunteer. If you don’t have a job, keep up the community involvement work you started way back in junior year.
  5. Plan your dorm room. This can be the fun part. There are lots of great YouTube videos by college freshman whose insight can help you make the perfect dorm room checklist.

Ready to apply to Western Oregon University? Visit our Admission website to apply, learn about visiting campus and get to know your financial aid options. Already accepted? Share your excitement on social media with #WOUsaidyes!

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