12/29/2012 04:56 pm ET Updated Feb 28, 2013

Making the Holidays Count

Santa's gone; the wrapping paper has been thrown away and thus begins the most dangerous time of year for a college student -- the winter break.

While summer is filled with internship opportunities and summer classes, the winter break is often seen as too short to be productive and too cold to do anything, as the lure of complacency is far too strong.

But while overdosing on grandma's eggnog and remaining in bed all day may seem like a viable option it shouldn't be at all. Here are some tips to make your winter break a productive one.

  1. Plan out your internships applications. If there is one thing I have learned from my experiences is that applying early and often is usually the key. Far too often many students get caught rushing down an application a couple hours before it's due. Recruiters can tell from a mile away, which application was carefully planned out weeks in advance and which ones were scrambled together at the last minute; don't be the latter. Instead make a calendar and highlight all the days your applications are due and make a plan to start applications early and build up to completing them on time.
  1. Plan out your next couple of semesters. If you know your major already this is the perfect time to start looking ahead. What classes are you planning to take in the fall and next spring? Doing this early can ensure you are not stuck in a logjam later on in your college career when classes you need to take conflict with each other.
  1. Catch up on some reading. If you really don't want to get out of bed then at least do some reading. Engage your mind, don't let your brain waste away and become as slushy as the snow outside. Keep your brain active and working, you will likely learn something new and you will undoubtedly feel a lot better about your hibernation in the long run.
  1. Start a winter project. Maybe there is a non-profit you wanted to start but never got the chance to? Or perhaps there is a business idea that you've wanted to explore for a while, this is the perfect time to do so. No one is saying that you need to complete your project in less than a month but use this time to do some research and you would have already laid the framework needed to get your idea off the ground.
  1. Look back on your year. See what you achieved, what you wish you did better at and what you can do in the upcoming year. Write it down! I am a major advocate for doing things like this, it helps big time in terms of making sure you are improving every year.
  1. If you can afford it, TRAVEL. But don't do a traditional party trip. Go to a country for a week that you have never been to and just explore. Maybe go with one friend if you need to. Stay in a local hostel and interact with locals, it will open your mind to a whole new culture and will surely be something you carry with you for the rest of your life.
  1. Lastly, be inspired! Go to museums, visit family see friends and cultivate ideas. Exercise and work off those extra holiday pounds. During the semester you are full of energy and enthusiasm now is not the time to forget those characteristics. There is a whole world out there to be explored, come into the New Year as a better and improved version of yourself.