High School Checklist: Apply For Scholarships And Prep For Exams Over The Holiday Break

Are the holidays your sweet solace between semesters? It’s the time of year when you can put your school books away for 2-3 weeks. 

Some students fill this time by working jobs to save for college. Others may get roped into helping their parents more around the house. And many students find themselves relaxing the days away with friends.

During this downtime, one thing to remember is you still have a lot to do to prepare for college. So make sure you don’t burn all of your extra time chillaxing. Instead, dedicate an hour each day, more or less, to apply for scholarships and prep for exams.  

Part of being an accountable teenager, like you are, is making an effort to use your time wisely. While hanging out with friends is important, so is accomplishing your goals.

Bright Futures can help you prepare and nail your college admissions process. Contact us today to learn more.


By your senior year of high school, you’ve likely encountered both defeat and victory at one time or another. Take it all in stride. There are good days and bad. And without failure, you’ll never truly appreciate success. So use every defeat as a reason to say, “I can do better.” And with every victory, say, “I knew I could do this!”

Branch Out From Your Inner Circle

Once you’ve found a group of friends, it’s easy to stay within your circle. With this in mind, imagine your 10-year high school reunion. Won’t it be great to know more than just a few folks there?

Use your extra time over the holidays to branch out from your inner circle of friends. This could mean making an effort to get to know your classmates better. Or the student you regularly volunteer with who always makes you laugh. Maybe grab dinner with a coworker after work. 

Not only is it good to put yourself out there, but this will also be a useful tool once you start college. After all, you’ll be in new scenarios with tons of new people. Making friends and building relationships will continue to be beneficial throughout college and into your adult life. 

Believe In Yourself

Have you taken the Birkman Assessment? If not, your friends at Bright Futures highly suggest you schedule it soon. One of the greatest aspects of the Birkman is its emphasis on self-acceptance. By understanding your own strengths, interests, and behaviors, you can better understand why you are the way you are. 

Furthermore, believe in yourself! If you exude confidence in your abilities, then others will follow suit. Plus, wouldn’t it be great to have a whole entourage of family members and peers who believe in you?

Apply For Scholarships

The holiday break is a fantastic time for you to research and apply for scholarships. Check the obvious boxes, such as your future college and FAFSA opportunities. 

Then, look further. There are plenty of 3rd party scholarships you can find through your parents’ employers, insurance company, church, and local companies (like Target!). Moreover, you can revisit the college essays you’ve already written. Depending on word count and essay prompts, adjust your existing essays to fit the different scholarship requirements. 


In high school years, college may seem far away for a junior. But really, it’s creeping up sooner than you realize. Use your extra time over the holidays to prepare for your college admissions process.

Wondering when the right time is to start preparing for the college admissions process? Here’s a pro tip – it’s never too early! Contact Bright Futures today for a complimentary consultation.

Sign Up For Test Prep

Time to bust out the books! And by that, we mean you should start studying for the ACT and/or SAT. 

While it is true that not all colleges require ACT or SAT test scores anymore, do yourself a favor and take them anyways. If you score well, it will be a great supplement to your application. If you don’t do so hot, you don’t have to inform your prospective college about the score. Furthermore, if you decide not to submit these test scores, you’ll need to put extra effort into other areas of your applications

Prepare for the SAT and ACT by signing up for a test prep course over the holiday break. This will be a great opportunity to really focus on the course material. 

Register For Spring SAT and ACT

All that test prep isn’t just to know you can do it. This is the time to actually register for the SAT and/or ACT. 

If possible, try to sign up to take the test right after your prep course ends. You’ll have the material fresh in your mind. The practice tests will have you prepared to knock the actual test out of the park. 

Freshmen & Sophomores  

You didn’t think we’d let you off the hook for your entire holiday break, did you?

We promise we wouldn’t be encouraging you to hunker down if it didn’t mean big things for your bright future.

While the college admissions process may seem in the distant future, it’s time to start preparations. After all, your resume will include your first two years of high school, too!

Here are some things you can do to ensure when the time comes, you are ready to submit strong college applications:

Register For The PSAT

Have you heard the news? Most colleges have bid adieu to SAT and ACT requirements. But that doesn’t mean you should just write them off. Because you still have the option to submit your test scores if you want. 

Dip your toes into the waters of SAT and ACT tests and take the PSAT (practice SAT). The results will give you an idea of how well you’ll do on the actual test. But don’t let a low score get you down. You’ll still have plenty of time to attend an SAT or ACT prep course. 

Take The Birkman Assessment

Have you been asked, “What do you want to do with your life?” It’s a loaded question, and some consider it unfair to ask high school students. That’s because, honestly, most adults are still trying to figure out what they want to do. Sure, the adults in your life are likely employed and following careers. But that doesn’t mean they’re working in their ideal career field or even on the path they expected of themselves.

You hear us talk about the Birkman a lot. And that is because we truly believe in its value. Rather than pinpoint your ideal career right now, let the Birkman be your guide. When you take time to review your Birkman report, the results may surprise you. 

Explore Your Interests & Look Outside The Box

After you review your Birkman report, make an effort to explore the interests it points out. One of the greatest things about the Birkman is that it unlocks interests and potential that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Do you find yourself doodling masterpieces in the margins of your notebooks? Or does computer programming fascinate you? These may be keys to finding out what interests you should explore further.

Apply For An After School Job

Who doesn’t like a little extra cash?

After-school and weekend jobs have more value than padding your wallet with spending money. In fact, jobs teach high school students responsibility, accountability, networking, and financial skills. 

Furthermore, a job will look great on your resume when it comes time to apply to college. 

Sign Up For An Extracurricular Activity

Yes, you could spend your free time playing video games and binging movies. But that doesn’t do a lot for your growth or even your mental health.

So instead, commit to at least one extracurricular. Consider sports, the debate team, service clubs, FFA, ROTC, and more. Not only will you likely widen your social circle, but you’ll also learn new skills. Plus, getting out of your comfort zone will help you grow and will look great on your resume.

Ready To Use Your Holiday Downtime To Knock Out This High School Checklist? 

High School ChecklistKeep this in mind for now and forever – always keep moving forward. Yes, you need rest, relaxation, and quality time with friends and family. But to do great things, you need to put in great efforts.

When you find extra time on your hands, that doesn’t mean it’s time for video games or Netflix marathons. Use this year’s holiday break as an opportunity to strengthen your skills and accomplish your goals. Whether you’re in the midst of the college admissions process or just beginning, it’s important to stay focused.

Do you need help preparing for and navigating the college admissions process? Contact the experts at Bright Futures today!

Note: This post was originally published on December 1, 2016 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.