Back to blog

The College Freshman Survival Guide to Winter Break

The College Freshman Survival Guide to Winter Break
Congratulations, you’ve made it through finals and it’s time for that long, glorious winter break! 

Not as excited for break as you’d hoped? You’re not alone.

While winter break brings many welcomed comforts, like seeing old friends and your parent’s cooking, there are challenges that pop up, too. Turns out, it may not be so easy to take weeks out of the college routine that you’ve worked all semester to nail down.

Whether you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by so much family time, feeling stir crazy from the cold weather, or you’re having a hard time staying present knowing your bank account is quickly dwindling, there are tried and true methods to help you thrive this winter break.

Problem: Too Much Free Time

Tests and homework are over (for now), so why is it that one week into break you’re back to feeling antsy?

Maybe it’s the fact that, after going seemingly nonstop for a whole semester, you’re now given lots of free time...so. much. free time. And now that you’ve had a few days to rest, it feels like it’s time to get back into the rush of getting things done again.

Plus, for many college freshman who have gotten used to having a lot more independence, so much family time might be driving you a little insane. Even if you really did miss your fam throughout the semester, waking up to your mom telling you to do laundry may have you feeling 16 again.

But if cracking open a text book doesn’t sound appealing yet, there are still plenty of fun ways to be productive while maintaining your newfound independence.

Solution: Work on Building Your Dream Career

Keeping your eye on the future helps remind yourself that winter break won’t last forever. In the grand scheme of things, it’s bound to end up flying by!

Use your pent-up energy to start taking some tangible steps toward your dream career. And the best place to start is by making a 10-year plan.

Long-range planning is proven to increase motivation, not to mention the comfort of feeling like you have a road planned out, even if it’s not exactly how you pictured.

Map out the next decade of your life in just a few easy steps:

Start with your overall life purpose.

  • Don’t worry, this can change and shift over time! It’s a lighthouse for right now.
  • A good way to determine this is to ask yourself what is the impact you want to have made when your life is over.
  • Whenever you find yourself stuck, try the deathbed test and ask yourself which option you would look back on from your deathbed and be most proud of.

Create an action plan.

  • Jot down milestones, or markers that will help you determine you’re on the right path and from there determine the action steps it will take to get there.
  • Take a moment to close your eyes and envision reaching these goals. How will you feel?
  • Starting at 10 years, categorize your ultimate end goals and disperse them amongst the proper time frames for accomplishment. Then do the same for 5 years, 1 year, and 90 days.

Now that you’ve got your 10-year plan nailed down, here are a few things you can do over break to get closer to landing that dream job.

Volunteer

  • According to a survey by TimeBank, about 73% of employers would hire someone with volunteer experience over someone without it.
  • So by volunteering, not only will you be experiencing something new and enriching, but you’ll be able to reference the experience on your next job hunt.

Other perks of volunteering are:

  • It’s a way to connect with others who care about the same issues.
  • It keeps you out of the house, moving, and ideally catching some sunlight here and there…all great things for the body and mind!
  • You’ll feel a sense of self value and, chances, are, start to value others around you more, too.

Find a Mentor

Every path is unique, and a mentor is a great way to tap into personalized guidance and help you reach the goals you determined.

Take some time to find the perfect mentor for the road you’d like to take after this break.

You can oftentimes find mentors in your own network: people you know or have heard of who you look up to and desire their skillsets. They could be an upperclassman, a relative, or even someone you just happen to encounter regularly at school or in your extracurriculars.

Other times, you can seek out mentors by trying new things like picking up an internship or signing up for a new club.

If you’d prefer to take the online route, sites like tie.org can help connect you to a career mentor for a fee.

Problem: You’re Running Low on Money

Let’s face it: the holidays are a major drain on your bank account. From gifts to outings with old friends to that guilty pleasure delivery service, in the back of your mind, you know you’re gonna be scraping for change soon.

But if you either can’t or simply don’t want to get a job during your three-week break, there are ways to make it so your winter break doesn’t break you.

Solution: Use Winter Break Money Hacks

You’ve been through the budgeting speeches and you know how to find a job by now. Congratulations, you’ve reached level 2 of a budgeting pro: life hacks.

  1. Instead of flying back home, put the word out on where you’re headed and see if a fun road trip with other students headed the same way is an option.
  2. Apps, apps, apps. Be honest, you plan on spending quite a bit of time on your phone during break. Turn some of that time into money by using job apps where you create your own schedule like Rover for dog walking, Care.com for caretaking, or Lyft for ride shares.
  3. Negotiate down some bills. Check into bills like your phone bill and see if any new deals have popped up.
  4. Seek out free events or events with free food or drink for your next outings.
  5. Sign up for paid product studies.
  6. Keep an eye out for places/services with student discounts.

Problem: Your Health is Lacking

All that rich food, outings with friends, and time spent curled up by the fireplace has begun to take its toll. You’re starting to feel feeling bloated, anxious, and grumpy, and you don’t have much motivation to change it no matter how bad it makes you feel.

But finding a fun, healthy, break-friendly routine might have you changing your tune.

Practice Meal Prep

Save yourself the guilt of having your third fast food burrito this week by planning ahead and getting into the meal prep habit.

Perhaps you tried it before and it didn’t stick. But that’s even more reason to keep trying!

On average, it takes about 2 months to create a habit. Use your break to become one of those healthy food prep pros you’ve always admired.

The key to sustaining a habit of prepping meals is to start small. Begin by taking small actions, like simply saving leftovers for lunch, or at the very least a snack the next day.

From there, begin with a single recipe meal to prep. A single recipe meal is a meal that contains all the proteins, grains and vegetables you need in one recipe vs a meal where side dishes are required.

This could be anything from a delicious, protein packed salad to a homemade burrito bowl.

Once you got the hang of one quick and easy go-to recipe, you can work in another. By now, you should have 2 meals a day prepped for 1-2 days, and you’ve saved your future self time, money, and fast food guilt.

Imagine that…a winter break where you’ll head back to school with a better idea of your career path, some money and a healthy and frugal new meal prep habit.

As you can see, a few simple plans for break can turn your winter into one of the most fun, productive ones yet.

Now all you have to do is start packing up! And before you slap your forehead because you just realized you forgot to figure out where to store or ship important items before break, take a deep breath.

Not only do we have a place to store your things, but we have advice on how to do it, too »