Making the Most of Your Holiday Breaks

During holiday breaks, students should focus on building their profiles in order to become strong candidates to get admission in a U.S. university of their choice.

By Aastha Virk Singh

July 2020

Making the Most of Your Holiday Breaks

During vacations, students can take virtual tours of their shortlisted universities. Photograph by Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Most U.S. universities follow a holistic admission process and employ innovative methods to fairly assess candidature and add to the talent and diversity on campus. When it comes to admissions, one often comes across the term “profile-building.” Loosely described, profile-building is an activity that raises public awareness of one’s expertise, skills and achievements to advance one’s career and, in this case, the prospect of admission to a U.S. university. Students go to great lengths to build their profiles to demonstrate that they are strong candidates and that, in addition to academic strength, they also excel in extracurricular and cocurricular activities. However, a lot of students do not deeply consider what motivates them, what drives them and what their goals are. Many of them start their planning based on peer pressure or notions of a formula that one must follow.

Is there a formula?
Students and parents often erroneously jump into making lists of things to do, based on what they hear from their friends and family members. But, a well-intentioned adviser will guide them to reflection and introspection–the first steps toward building a strong profile and application.

Students can begin by weighing the following factors and asking themselves some questions.

Previous experience: Look back on the year or a few years, set goals for the next semester or year and think about, “What do I want to do?”, “What have I not been able to do so far?”, “What else did I do last year besides my studies?”, “Can I do something more or different this year?” and “What do I want to invest my time in?”

Make a statement: Make notes while asking yourself, “What is my purpose or intent of that activity?” and “What interests me, what affects me or upsets me?”
Do some reflection: Gauge if the activity is helping to achieve long-term self-development goals beyond just profile-building. “Is it something that I want to continue doing in or after college?”

Resist peer pressure: How an individual spends his or her time is the only thing under that person’s control. It is, therefore, important to chart one’s own plan and resist peer pressure.

Be flexible, adaptive, positive: “If I don’t have access to opportunity A, can I look at opportunity B instead?” and “Do I have a plan B?”

Set goals: “By when do I want to achieve this goal?”, “What exactly do I intend to do?”, “Am I being realistic in my expectations?” and “Do I have the time to do this?”

Set one’s own pace: Some students do better with schedules and some are spontaneous.

Repose: Remember that an individual may not feel productive or motivated at all times. So, it is acceptable to have moments of repose.

This brings us to the activities that one can participate in to make the most of one’s time during a holiday break and eventually build a strong application.

  • Study and prepare for the standardized examinations that you plan to take later in the year.
  • Visit colleges to update your list of choices; most universities offer virtual tours.
  • Apply for internships and scholarships.
  • Revamp your résumé, cover letter, essays and so on.
  • Help your community by volunteering.
  • Upskill by trying out a new activity or by learning at a new school or online platform.
  • Have fun and do not forget to relax.

Aastha Virk Singh is a senior adviser, EducationUSA, at United States-India Educational Foundation.


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