Study for exams. Check. Finish finals. Check. Pack up to leave campus for a month. Check! After a long semester of papers, presentations, and tests, you have been waiting for the moment when you can walk off of this campus, suitcase in tow, for a month-long vacation. You are ready to catch up on sleep, Netflix, and quality time with loved ones, but as we all know, break is over in a blink of an eye. Before you know it, you have to buy your books, re-pack your suitcase (maybe more crammed now than before), and prepare to say goodbye again to family and friends. Spring semester has sprung up on you and now you face the dreaded question: how am I going to get back into the swing of things? Well, there’s a way; actually several ways to avoid this semester shock as well as get the most of your winter break. Here’s a few things you can do right now to be a proactive winter breaker:
Get Your Course Books Early
Before leaving for break, search for the books you will need for your spring semester classes using the Student Stores website. You can choose to buy them (new or used), rent them, or even check to see if your books are available to check out at the library. Once you have your books in hand, pack them in your suitcase or carry-on luggage to get an early start on the semester. Completing assigned readings for even a couple days of class can be a big help in easing the transition back to school.
Develop a Sleep Schedule
After late study sessions or even all-nighters during finals, one of the first things you may be looking forward to during winter break is catching up on sleep. This is what I call the “Winter Wipeout.” Built-up exhaustion from the semester mixed with days free from scheduled activities and responsibilities are the perfect ingredients for extended bouts of sleep, characterized by early bedtimes and late mornings and hour-long catnaps in the middle of the day. You are literally knocked out for the count. This is then followed by late nights watching TV or hanging out with friends, breaking the sleep habits you may have had during the fall semester. Instead of returning from break and waking up completely discombobulated for your 9 am class, try to return back to your regular sleeping pattern by transitioning your sleeping schedule a week before break. For example, you could try to go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day (ex. midnight on Monday, 11:45pm on Tuesday, and so on) for the week before you return to campus. You can also begin waking up closer to the time you have to get up for classes during this same week. This will prepare your body for the return to school and hopefully reduce some of the grogginess you may experience during the first couple weeks of classes after winter break.
In addition to needing books, you also need binders, notebooks, pens, folders, and other school supplies before the start of classes. Use winter break to purchase those items and to organize the notebooks you will use for your courses. You may even want to print out the syllabus for each class and mark down important deadlines like due dates for papers in your calendar. This will help prevent you from having to do that last-minute scramble that so many of us do. So instead of running to Student Stores, Staples, or Office Depot the day before the start of classes, you are relaxing and mentally preparing yourself for the spring semester.
These tips along with other strategies can put you on the right track to get the most out of winter break and approach the spring semester with a running start. Why start a new semester on the wrong foot if you don’t have to?
Additional resources for ways to get the most of your winter break can be found below. Enjoy your winter break!