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5 Smart Ways to Spend Your College Spring Break

If you don't plan to vacay during spring break, here are a few smart ideas for how to spend that coveted week. Your résumé will thank you!

Spring break comes faster than we realize, and when it does, most college students either head to the beach for a trip their parents will never know the details of, or they go home to spend a week binge-watching Netflix. Now I love binge-watching and relaxing on the beach just as much as the next person, but there are so many other things students can do during spring break! Why do something new and unique during this time? Well, a few benefits include boosting your résumé for your future job search, opening up your scholarship opportunities, gaining wisdom for your college major decisions, and that overall great feeling you get when you do something truly awesome and worthwhile. (And that’s just the beginning.) Here are a few ideas for how to spend that coveted week so you can say you did something besides growing a week older.

1. Volunteer

Who doesn’t want to make the world a little better? If you’re not going on an official “alternative spring break” volunteer trip, you can still get in on the goodhearted action on your own. Plus, if you’re starting to apply for summer jobs and realize your résumé looks a little sparse, volunteering is a great thing to add, even if it’s a week’s worth. You might even find something you really enjoy that could change the trajectory of your college major or future career! Local animal shelters, soup kitchens, museums, hospitals, libraries, and even local K-12 schools are a good place to start. You could also try talking to daycare centers or short-term camps; everyone appreciates a volunteer.

Related: An Easy How-to Guide to Start Volunteering as a Student

2. Intern

Most internships last much longer than a week, but you might be able to find a gig just for spring break. Since many other students will have the week off, you may find companies need the extra help. In any case, you’ll certainly set yourself apart by being driven enough to give up your vacation! Reach out to your advisor or campus career center to see if they can help you find a spring break internship. Or if there’s a business in your field you’d like to work for someday, ask if they’d be willing to let you help out for the week. (If not, you might be able to shadow someone there for a day or two, whether you do any hands-on work or not.)

3. Study abroad

Many college and university study abroad offices know there are lots of students who simply can’t afford to go away for a whole summer or semester. To solve this, there are often shorter trips offered during spring break. Some are actual study abroad where you take a class during the trip; others have you do the coursework beforehand then visit related areas; and some involve travel just for fun, no schoolwork involved! These kinds of trips are perfect if you want to study abroad but don’t have a huge budget or are nervous about being away from home for a long time. Even if you're planning to study abroad for a semester or year, these short trips are a great way to see what it’s like before you take on a longer one.

Related: The Experts' Choice: Colleges With Great Study Abroad Options

4. Take a class

I know it’s spring break, but hear me out! Depending on your college or university, there may be short classes offered over break. These may be single-credit-hour classes and/or classes where you do a lot of work in that one week—but if it means one less class later, it may be worth it. Talk to your academic advisor first to make sure it fits in with your overall schedule and the credits you have available. Some spring break courses are even offered online, so you can still go home if you like. If you're not looking to earn credit, you could always sign up for an online class or MOOC not affiliated with your school just for fun.

5. Pick up a hobby

This may not seem like the most inventive, productive, or even “smart” spring break idea. But if you’re looking to spend the week wisely and all else fails, picking up a new hobby can always be fun and interesting, even if you don’t end up sticking with it. You could try learning a new language through any number of online courses or smartphone apps (I love Duolingo!). You could learn to cook something new since you’re at home with a real kitchen. Then there are unique hobbies like origami or calligraphy. Think of anything you’ve always wanted to try but never have time for. And if all else fails, just read a book! Chances are, you don’t have the time to read a lot more than textbooks during the semester, but now you have the opportunity to pick something up for fun—if only so you can say you read the book before you watched the movie.

Related: How to Have an Awesome Spring Break No Matter What You Do

What other smart spring break ideas do you have? Are you interested in one of these outside-the-box experiences or would you rather do something more relaxing and traditional? Keep in mind that with four (or more) spring breaks in college, you could fit that trip to Cancun in next year!

Another productive way to spend your spring break: researching grad schools! Whether it's already part of your academic plans or you're just curious about it, start connecting with schools using our Graduate Program Search tool.

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About Emily Rogan

Emily Rogan is a student at Morehead State University, where she's studying Communications and Theater. When she's not in school, she is an actor, musician, singer, and writer.


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