Deciding Whether to Go Home for Winter Break or Stay at School

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Stay at School

Ah, winter break. Two or three bucolic weeks with no classes, no reading assignments and no reason to wake up early. For 21 days between late December and early January, you get to live like a retired person.

The question, of course, is where you want to do it–at home or at school?

Both options have their pros and their cons, and deciding which is right for you depends on your goals, your responsibilities and whether you need to take a timeout or keep driving the ball forward.

Here’s a look at some of the things you should consider when you’re deciding whether to go home for winter break or stay in school:

What can you gain academically by staying at school?

Come Dec. 23, campus will look vastly different. Most of the apartments near campus will be empty, most of the buildings on campus will be closed and you’ll probably have no problem finding a parking space. Most students, faculty and staff will be gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep making progress toward your degree programs.

You probably already know what your spring semester course schedule will look like, which means you know which books you’ll need. Staying at school during winter break gives you the perfect opportunity to get ready for the upcoming semester.

Your apartment will probably be quieter than ever, giving you ample opportunity to start reading your text books. Imagine starting the new semester with the knowledge that you’re way ahead of the curve when it comes to knowing what the courses are all about.

It’s possible that you could do the same thing if you went home during winter break, but parents, friends and family always have a way of getting in the way of your study time–especially during the holiday season.

Which option will pay off better financially?

If you’re like most college students, you probably have financial responsibilities. You’re probably working hard to pay for school and make sure you don’t graduate with an overwhelming amount of debt.

Winter break is a great opportunity to make money.

Retailers everywhere add thousands of seasonal employees to their staff during the holidays–the pay and hours are relatively plentiful, too. Even though some companies say they’re scaling back seasonal employees this year, there are still jobs to be had.

The question then becomes: Where will you be more likely to pick up as many hours as possible and not spend all of your hard-earned money?

For many students, staying at school, where there is less temptation to go out with old friends, is the better option. They find that they can work during the day (and sometimes even into the evening) and focus on their reading at night. By the time winter break is over, they’ve made a lot of extra money (which will come in handy for rent, books and tuition) and managed to save most (if not all) of it.

Are your (mental) batteries fully charged?

School can be challenging. You go to class. You study. You worry about getting good grades, making the right connections and positioning yourself well to find a good job after you graduate. It can be exhausting–and sometimes you just need a little break.

In these instances, heading home over winter break makes perfect sense.

You’ll get to see your friends and family. You’ll get to eat home-cooked meals. You’ll get to sleep in, relax and give yourself a mental timeout from being a student. And, if you do it correctly, you’ll get to come back to school recharged and ready to keep doing your best work and making progress toward your degree.

Ultimately the choice is yours–stay at school or go home during winter break. Either way, the things you can do are limitless. Which option is right for you depends on your goals, your responsibilities and your state-of-mind.