After the end of college application season, many students find themselves with a surplus of time. Waiting months to hear from colleges about your admission decisions can be daunting, but there are many ways to occupy your time in a productive manner.
1. Set short- and long-term goals
After spending all that time taking tests, writing essays, and filling out applications, you can feel a bit lost. Instead of spending extra time sitting on the couch doing nothing, set some goals! Try this exercise: Describe yourself in one or two sentences. Then describe what you want to be more of in one or two sentences. This can be as specific as learning a new skill or as broad as being a nicer person. Take this and form some short- and long-term goals for personal growth. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, ask yourself these questions:
- What skills do I want to have?
- What bad habits do I want to change?
- What good habits do I want to form?
- What characteristics do I want to improve?
- What do I want to learn more about?
- What books do I want to read?
- What movies do I want to watch?
- What places do I want to travel to?
- What activities do I want to try or do more of?
- How can I better my health?
2. Apply for scholarships
College can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! There are tons of scholarships out there just waiting to help you pay for college. After writing a bunch of essays for your college applications, the last thing you probably want to do is write more, but there are lots of no-essay scholarships too. Look for applications with essay questions similar to papers you’ve already written. Make good use of your essays and apply to as many scholarships as possible. There are so many great scholarship search websites, especially CollegeXpress! Make sure to sign up for emails so you can receive notifications of new scholarships.
Don’t be afraid to get specific. There are so many scholarships out there set aside solely for applicants of a specific religion, race, gender, major, school, or career interest. Also look for scholarships from local groups specific to your area. There are some really wacky and creative scholarships, and those can be fun to enter too! If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, set a goal to apply for one scholarship a week or every two weeks. Just remember, you can’t win a scholarship if you don’t apply!
3. Focus on school
Your college applications may be done, but school sure isn’t! Continue to work hard and study for your upcoming finals. Many colleges will expect you to keep up your grades all of senior year. If you’re in AP or IB classes, create a study plan for the tests in May. You’ll thank yourself later for putting in the time now. And if you’re struggling in a class, pour your heart and soul into it! Take advantage of your newfound time and learn as much as possible. If you start to learn about anything interesting, you could also read some extra books about the topic or do some outside research.
4. Get a job
Scholarships aren’t the only way to get money for college! Jobs not only bring in extra money, but they teach you important lessons in responsibility and give you experience for the future. Having a job can be extremely rewarding. If your school has a career center, check it out and look for part-time jobs in your area. Ask your friends with jobs if their employer is hiring and be on the lookout for “help wanted” signs at local businesses.
One of the best feelings in the world is knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Volunteering is a wonderful way to spend your time and meet new people. Look for opportunities at your school and in your community. Set up a clothing or food drive for local shelters or see if a local animal shelter could use a helping hand. You could also consider joining a service club such as the Rotary or Key Club.
6. Learn some life skills
Many students find themselves lacking certain life skills to live on their own. Making a cup of ramen and wishing for your laundry to get done won’t work in real life. Question your cooking, cleaning, and budgeting skills, then get to work on improving them. You can use your parents and the internet to become an expert. Teach yourself how to cook some basic, healthy meals. Learn how to shop and pick out nutritious food while staying on a budget. Ask your parents to teach you how to budget. Learn how to do your laundry, dishes, and basic sewing. You’ll feel more independent (and maybe a lot better about going off to college in the fall).
College application season can be stressful, so enjoy the fact that it’s over and try to relax. Give yourself a mental break and spend a day doing some of your favorite activities. Celebrate all you’ve accomplished and try not to stress about colleges reviewing your applications, because at this point, it’s out of your hands. Be happy with yourself and get excited about the future!
Kill some time while you wait by reading up on How Admission Decisions Are Made!