Winter holidays are a great time for families to build bonds and relax a little. It’s also the perfect opportunity to talk with your kids about their future and engage in a little college prep. If you’re planning for college, it’s likely that your student already possesses some notion of what they want their college experience to entail. The winter break can be a good time to get your feet set in the right direction and help your student get into (or decide on) their target school. Here are just a few ways you can use the winter break to improve your student’s college admissions prospects.


If you were to ask most high school students, creating a spreadsheet is probably not how they’d prefer to spend their winter vacation. But the college admissions process includes a lot of deadlines. Each and every school has their own application deadline–or, rather, sometimes as many as three. Some students may prioritize early application deadlines, for example. Making a single spreadsheet where you can track these deadlines and mark off progress can help you stay organized throughout the admissions process.

To start:

  • Create a shared spreadsheet
  • Add in normal application deadlines
  • Note early application deadlines (where applicable)
  • Identify financial aid deadlines – both federal and school-specific
  • Highlight and prioritize the dates based on your child’s dream school


Applying for college is often as much a financial process as it is an academic one. Winter break is a perfect time to begin the process of helping your student wade through required financial aid documents and paperwork. You and your student could begin filling out your FAFSA or looking into student loan programs, interest rates, and payment schedules.

Your financial aid checklist might look like this:

  • Determine the overall cost of attending your student’s top three preferred schools
  • Determine the overall cost of attending your student’s backup schools
  • Collect the necessary financial and tax data required to fill out government and school financial aid forms
  • Fill out the FAFSA (and consider submitting)
  • Discuss and document grant limitations and student loan options
  • Create an overall financial plan that details how your student might successfully pay for tuition over four years of college
  • Speak with a college advisor or financial advisor


For most students, the default career path typically involves pursuing a four-year degree. But it’s important for students to be aware that a Bachelor’s Degree is not the only possible career path. For many students, a two-year degree might be more appropriate for their elected career, and others will need to prepare for advanced degrees.

So it’s worth spending some time looking into possible career paths. Will your student’s dream job require a Master’s degree? Or maybe a PhD, law or medical degree? Perhaps for your student, the PhD is the dream–and the career is an afterthought. Either way, during winter break, you can:

  • Discuss your student’s overall career goals
  • Research the degree (or degrees) necessary to reach those goals
  • Tailor your student’s application packets to maximize the opportunity to achieve their education and career goals


There’s a significant amount of information to collect, analyze, and synthesize during the college admissions process. For someone who is not constantly immersed in that process, keeping track of all that information can be a huge challenge. That’s why talking with an expert can provide you with a bit of helpful context.

During a college advising consultation, for example, you’ll be able to discuss the best way for your student to stand out from other applicants and make a positive impression on admissions officers. The right advice can help your student be accepted by their target school – and an advising consultation allows you to benefit from the experience of someone who has gone through this process countless times with the most prestigious schools.

Your goal for winter break, therefore, should be:

  • Collect your research into one place (either digital or physical)
  • Write down questions and concerns you might have
  • Schedule an appointment with an advisor and discuss the best way to achieve your student’s goals
  • Develop an action plan based on the advice of your college advisor


Ultimately, the purpose of putting your winter break to work is to help your student succeed in being accepted to their target college. You want to set them up for success. There are many ways to go about doing that, of course, and the above represent just a few. If you want to learn more about how A-List can help prepare your student for success – and get into their target school – contact us today.