iSchool Student Blogger’s Productivity Tips for Winter Break
Published: January 9, 2023 by Kesheena Doctor
We did it! After completing the fall semester, we can now relax and take a much-needed break. Now is a great idea to start planning ahead for the remainder of your time at iSchool.
I am in my first year but I intend to use winter break to better prepare for upcoming semesters so I can ensure that I meet pertinent deadlines and be successful in navigating grad school. As an undergrad, I struggled with planning and sometimes missed scholarship deadlines and course enrollment deadlines. With grad school, I’m focused on being more organized and would like to share a few activities you can do to have a more effective and productive winter break.
Decompressing After the Semester Ends
Relaxation should be at the top of your to-do list. Take yourself out to dinner, enjoy a relaxing bath, get a massage or go on a vacation. Just make sure you congratulate yourself on a job well done and provide yourself with a reward that will help replenish your energy and lower your stress levels. If you have a full-time job like most grad schools, even a stay-cation on your weekend can help you relax and adjust to having free time again.
Reflecting on the Semester
Once you’ve taken a few days off to rest and destress, writing a reflection of the past semester is a great activity to provide closure. Write down all your successes, including projects you were proud of, study tools that worked for you, professors you liked, and subjects and classes you were interested in. Then write down anything that didn’t work for you. Did you study better in the AM? Were you more productive on weekends? Writing these observations down can help you remember particulars about the semester and help you strategize for the next semester. In undergrad, I often went from semester to semester with the baggage from the previous semester weighing on me. Having closure is a great tool to help refresh you and move forward in a positive direction for the next semester.
Updating Your E-Portfolio
While fall semester is still fresh in your mind, I recommend reviewing your assignments and deciding what you would like to add to your e-Portfolio. Copy syllabi and assignment details that include information about competencies the assignment fulfilled. If the assignment was a group effort, reach out to your group mates and request permission to use the assignment in your e-Portfolio. If there are any class discussions that may fulfill a requirement, take screenshots while they are available in Canvas.
Compile these documents into a drive, either on your computer or an online drive, though backing them up to both is a wise choice! I used Google Drive, organized my files by competency and then made a subfolder by course. However, you can arrange your files to best meet your organizing needs.
Once you have compiled and organized your competency examples, review them and make notes about the experience and what you’ve learned. Though competency professors may require specific criteria in their classes, writing notes can still be greatly beneficial. You are unlikely to remember assignment details one to three years after completion, so these types of notes will be helpful once you take INFO 289: Advanced Topics in Library and Information Science.
Financial Aid and Course Planning
If you are like me and are using financial aid to supplement grad school costs, winter break is also a great time to start planning your financial aid for the next school year. Though filling out financial aid forms and scholarship applications doesn’t seem like a fun task while on winter break, since these documents are due while spring semester is in session, it is smart planning to work on your aid now while you have the time to dedicate to these tasks. If you haven’t already, plan out your budget for next school year, then apply for FAFSA and any scholarships and loans. The iSchool has a great list of scholarships available, both from SJSU as well as external organizations. SJSU also offers a comprehensive list of external scholarships that may fit your educational and financial needs.
Self-Care and Restoration
Finally, take more time off to relax, practice self-care and connect with loved ones. While work may limit how much time off you can actually take for yourself, relishing in small self-care acts can help renew you for next semester. Write down a list of self-care activities you’d like to do for the break, from most to least important so you can ensure that the essentials are taken care of. I plan on spending time with my loved ones, getting my hair cut, restarting my strength training regimen, deep cleaning my apartment, cooking homemade meals, reading at least one book, and catching up on tv shows. Have a great winter break!