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High school students have a lot on their plates their whole academic year. There is a necessary focus on academic work. Most students belong to one or more extra-curricular activity whether, it be sports or clubs. On top of all this, many students have part-time jobs. This flurry of activity often gives students a great lesson in time management. This is helpful in the college application process.

As a high school senior, you probably spent your summer researching and even traveling to visit colleges that interest you. By the time the holidays roll around, you find yourself hip-deep in the college application process. This process adds yet another list of things to do and can drastically increase the stress-level around the holidays, a time when a lot of people are already experiencing a certain amount of stress. So, how do you make it through school, work, college applications, extra-curricular activities while at the same time keeping your sanity and enjoying your holiday breaks?

Pace yourself

The college application process is complicated and often includes many steps. Make sure you start as early as possible and organize your time. It helps to start with some of the items that may be out of your control, such as letters of recommendation. Ask for them as soon as you can and provide a detail of what you would like for each letter.

Instead of trying to get a lot done on your applications at once, pace yourself. Start early and do as much as you can at one time. Schedule time during the week and on weekends specifically for your college applications. Keep in mind that the holidays can be very busy, even while you are on break. It’s probably not a good idea to hold off on applications thinking that you’ll finish them over the holiday break. Starting early will help you balance the need to finish applications with the need to spend time with your family and enjoy the holidays.

Set boundaries

College applications are important. When you carve out time to work on them, make sure that you don’t suddenly find yourself doing something else. This typically means setting boundaries; with your friends, with your extra-curricular activities, and with your job. Once you have set aside time to work on your applications, do your best to keep that schedule.

It may be most difficult setting boundaries with your employer, particularly if you find yourself working retail. Typically, you are starting the college application process right at the time that your employer is gearing up for the holiday season. This can create a conflict. You may need to tell your employer that they cannot increase your hours at this time, and decline if you are called in to work early or on your day off.

Enjoy the holidays

We’ve talked about pacing yourself, about starting early, and about scheduling time to work on your application and sticking to that schedule. Doing these things will keep you caught up on the application process and hopefully not make it necessary to spend your winter break catching up on applications. Keeping a balance between your work, school, extra activities and friends can help you focus more on the things you need to do, while also giving you the ability to enjoy your holidays.