6 Ways to Spend Spring Break Wisely

Skip the exotic trips and use the week to benefit your studies and your future.

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This month, some college students will be jetting off to sandy beaches or ski slopes for spring break. In case you're not one of those people, here are some other ways to spend your vacation. These options might be more productive, and they may even make the transition back to school a little easier.

[See why fewer students are taking trips over break.]

JULIE:

The words "spring break" are often not welcome to parents of college students. Depending on your student's plans, you may be concerned about finances or the safety of your child—or both.

There are other options for that school-free week, however. Consider talking to your student about one of the following:

1. Working: Spring break often happens just as college bank accounts are starting to dwindle. If there's a job available to a student, either in his or her college town or back at home, spring break can be a way to beef up funds for the rest of the semester.

2: Volunteering: Spring break also provides an opportunity for students to give their time—something that, between academics and jobs, can sometimes be hard to do. Volunteer opportunities are sometimes organized events known as alternative spring breaks or mission trips, but students can create their own opportunities as well.

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

3. Shadowing: Spring break is usually too short for an internship, but that doesn't mean that a student can't spend some time in his or her field.

One option is to shadow a professional during that week. Academic schools within a student's university may be able to facilitate this with alumni, or the student can reach out to people already in the field to arrange the experience.

[See six ways to network in college.]

LINDSEY:

Last year, when most of my friends spent spring break in Gulf Shores, Ala., I was headed back home. Far from being disappointed, however, I used the week to my advantage and got the most out of my time off doing these things:

1. Relaxing: Time off from school should be just that: time off. I valued the extra sleep, home cooked meals, and downtime with family just as much as a beachfront view.

Use spring break to catch up on some much-needed R&R. It will make returning to school a lot more manageable.

[Find out more about R&R during college breaks.]

2. Reconnecting: Being home for a week was a great opportunity to catch up with my parents and my younger brother. My mom and I went to see a Princess Diana exhibit, my younger brother and I made plenty McDonald's runs, and we watched NCAA basketball games as a family.

Visits home are always nice, but having a whole week with the family can be a welcome change during the spring semester.

3. Reviewing: By spring break, you'll probably have a good idea of what the rest of the semester will bring. Read that book that's coming up in English, review materials you've covered thus far, and apply for scholarships or awards you haven't gotten to during the busy school year.