Graduation is just around the corner, and before you know it, you’ll be shipping off to college. Between prom prep and finals, it doesn’t hurt to find a little time to prepare for college early, and spring break is the perfect opportunity to begin.

Here are five things you can do to maximize your spring break and get ahead on college prep.

Ramp up your scholarship search

Keep applying for scholarships. Remember, the more scholarships you apply for, the better your odds are of getting one. Create a schedule and set aside an hour or two each day to apply. Pay attention to deadlines to ensure all of your applications are submitted on time.

Get hands-on experience

Try shadowing someone in a field you may be interested in majoring in. It’s always good to get hands-on experience, and this can also give you an opportunity to ask questions and find out if a particular career path is right for you. Schedule some time with your school counselor before spring break to see if they may be able to connect you with professionals in the area. Also, check with your family and friends.

Volunteer in your community

Volunteering is another good way to keep busy and gain some experience over the break. Reach out to local charities for community service opportunities. If you can find an opportunity in your area of interest, it’s a great way to build up your skills.

Make a calendar to track important deadlines

There are a lot of important deadlines coming up beginning in May and continuing throughout the summer. For instance, you will need to make your final school selection and send the deposit. You will also need to start making housing and meal plan decisions, and register for classes. Create a calendar that includes all of the deadlines so you can stay organized.

Review admission and financial aid award letters

Many admission letters are sent out in March, so spring break is a great time to start getting organized. If you’ve received admission and financial aid award letters from colleges, take some time to review them. Even if you’re still waiting on some, you might be able to start narrowing down your choices.

Go over the details of any financial aid award letters carefully. If you’ve received more than one, set up a document to compare them. If you’re concerned about an offer you’ve received, take the time to appeal your award letter. Most schools have a specific appeals process, so be sure to look it up or contact the school’s financial aid office and follow their directions.

Go back to visit colleges you like, if needed

If you’ve received multiple offers from colleges, it can be difficult to make a final decision. If you’re finding you’re having trouble narrowing down your choices, it might be wise to go back for a second visit. During your first visit, you’re touring and learning basic facts. On your second visit, look carefully at whether or not the school meets your needs. It’s helpful to attend classes and schedule meetings with professors or an academic advisor, if you didn’t the first time.

It may be a bit difficult to revisit all of the schools you’ve been accepted to, especially if they’re far away from home. Instead, revisit the college websites of the schools you’re most interested in, or find ways to connect with students and alumni (e.g., social media, e-mail).

By following these tips, you can make the most of your spring break and get ahead on preparing for college.

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