Make Money, Connections Over Winter Break

College students can use time off to work toward financial and occupational goals.

By and SHARE

Winter break is unlike most other college breaks, simply because it's usually longer. Much longer. That means a student has an opportunity to do more over this break than simply relaxing, recharging, and reconnecting. This break also provides an opportunity to work toward financial, educational, and even occupational goals.

JULIE:

Lindsey will cover several important ways winter break can be put to good use, but I want to mention one that doesn't get a lot of attention: Volunteering.

Finding a job over winter break is usually first on students' (and parents') minds, and with good cause. College finances demand a lot of attention.

But sometimes, jobs over break can be hard to come by, especially in this economy. Or maybe the finances have been accounted for, and the student is looking for a different kind of experience over break. Volunteering for a nonprofit or charitable cause can fit the bill.

[Find out how to choose the best volunteering option.]

Chances are your student won't have any trouble finding an organization that will let him or her donate time over break. With that in mind, here are some questions your student can use to evaluate different opportunities:

1. How much of a need is there compared to other organizations?

2. Do I have skills that can contribute?

3. Does this charity or nonprofit have meaning for me?

4. Can I tie my work here into my major or other things I'm involved with at school?

Answering those questions carefully will likely result in an experience that is win-win for the organization and the student alike.

[Find out how to turn volunteering into a job.]

LINDSEY:

For me, the end of my fall semester—and finals week—usually merits a victory dance and some much needed rest and relaxation. It's safe to say that by the time winter break rolls around, my friends and I are ready for a break from school work, but the weeks at home can also be a great resource for college students. Here are some of the ways I am able to utilize my winter break—and avoid getting bored with all that free time!

1. Find part-time work: With all the retail and grocery stores needing extra help, the holidays can be one of the easiest times to find a job, even if it's only temporary. Another option is to get in touch with summer employers to see if they could use any help during the break.

If all else fails, holiday parties provide lots of opportunities for babysitting, which can help you to earn some extra cash for the school year.

2. Purchase your textbooks: Are you that person who's always scouring bookstores for your textbooks two weeks into the semester? I've ordered my books far before the beginning of the semester each year and have found it to be a huge stress relief. Certain textbooks sell out fast, especially in popular entry-level courses. By ordering your books before the semester even starts, you have plenty of time to get good bargains (and maybe even get started on some reading!).

[Try these websites for cheap textbooks.]

3. Look for new scholarship applications: Winter break can be a good time to explore new scholarship options. The break from tests and homework gives you the free time to find and apply for external scholarships that may have been pushed aside during the semester because of other school work.