Holiday break is approaching fast — hooray! Who doesn’t like time off, festive treats, and a reason to celebrate? However, many high schoolers are wondering how they can make the most of their holiday break, especially as they stay mindful of their test prep and college application processes. While it’s important to take a much-needed break at the holidays, it’s also always a good idea to be prepared and make certain you don’t fall behind on your schoolwork or college applications over the break. Depending on where you are in your high school career, you’ll need to have a plan in mind to make the most of your holiday break, and work smarter, not harder as you balance time off and rest with staying on track. Here are some things to keep in mind over the holidays for each year of your time in high school:

Freshman Year

Freshman year is a little early to start with college applications — but that doesn’t mean your holiday break is totally off the hook! Make sure you’re keeping up with any holiday homework or review you’ve been given, so you won’t be caught flat-footed the night before school starts back up. While you have the time, the holiday break can also be a great time to start researching test prep for the SAT/ACT — getting a jump start never hurts, and you’ll be thinking about test day sooner than you expect!

Sophomore Year

Sophomore year holidays are a great time to get your test prep plans into gear! It may feel early, but when junior year has you frantic with college research, test prep, and AP classes, you’ll be glad you got an early start! While you don’t have to actively start studying over the holidays if it conflicts with your holiday homework, or leaves you with no time to rest, make sure you do some research on prep options — and if you haven’t decided whether you’re taking the SAT or the ACT, now is a great time to do your homework and make your choice.

Junior Year

Junior year holiday break may not feel like much of a break in anything, so it’s important to make sure you’re giving yourself time to breathe. With test day looming over the horizon in the spring of the new year, it can be tempting to go all in on test prep over the break. While it’s definitely important to make time for test prep, it’s equally important to make space to rest. Set yourself a test prep schedule for the holidays, but otherwise, put the prep materials away and let yourself relax — all the better to prevent burnout, so your mind is fresh for test day!

Senior Year

Senior year holiday break can feel like a time to purely relax. After all, you’ve likely finished all of your college applications, and maybe even gotten your first acceptance if you’ve applied to a school with early decision or rolling admissions. However, while senior year holidays are definitely a time to kick back and relax, don’t tune out totally! If you do still have any outstanding applications, be sure to get those done while you’ve got the free time. Moreover, now is a great time to start prepping for any outstanding college interviews, which should be coming in the new year, and do some research on the schools you’ve applied to and what timelines you can expect on your applications’ review.

Remember, wherever you are in your high school career, if you’re feeling a little lost, especially at the holidays, the best thing you can do is reach out for help! Our A-List coaches are experts at guiding students like you through high school and into college success, and will have you feeling more confident in no time at all!