By Daniel Wong
Exams are over. School’s out.
And millions of students around the world are thinking to themselves, “Now what am I going to do with all this free time?”
Sure, there are games to play, movies to watch, and friends to hang out with.
But there are also plenty of productive things to do during the school holidays.
So I’ve come up with this list of 40 meaningful things to do.
1. Reflect on the semester gone by.
Take out a sheet of paper and answer these three questions:
- What did I do well in the past semester?
- What did I not do so well in the past semester?
- What will I do differently in the coming semester?
2. Set process goals for the coming semester.
This is a follow-up to Point #1.
Set process goals for the coming semester instead of performance goals, because process goals are far more effective.
What’s the difference between the two types of goals?
Process goals are what you intend to do, while performance goals are what you intend to achieve.
Here’s an example.
Performance goal: Get an A for math next semester.
Process goal: Do three extra math questions every day after dinner.
By setting process goals, you’re more likely to take action than if you only set performance goals.
So take some time and set 5 to 10 process goals for the coming semester.
3. Watch educational YouTube videos.
Here are a few of my favorite educational YouTube channels:
- MinutePhysics (all kinds of cool physics)
- CrashCourse (history, chemistry, astronomy, and much more)
- AsapSCIENCE (science topics ranging from biology to psychology)
For more suggestions, check out this Mashable article.
4. Watch documentaries.
You can watch thousands of high-quality documentaries for free at Documentary Heaven.
5. Get a job.
Don’t worry too much about what the job will pay. As the saying goes, “Take a job for what you will learn, not for what you will earn.”
This is especially true when it comes to school holiday jobs. The best learning experience might just come in the form of an unpaid job or internship.
6. Learn a new language.
Visit these websites and learn a new language:
7. Find a cause you care about.
The school holidays are a good time to give back. Find a cause you care about, and start thinking of ways to support that cause.
Then read this article, which lists 10 ways to support a good cause.
As a follow-up to Point #7, find a practical way to serve and contribute. You could volunteer to clean up the beach, help out at a nursing home or animal shelter, or deliver meals to the elderly.
9. Improve your physical health.
10. Learn a new skill.
You could learn skills like…
- Public speaking
- Positive thinking
I strongly recommend that you read these five books:
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
- Feel the Fear … and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
- The Happy Student by Daniel Wong – International Edition/Asian Edition (I’m allowed to recommend my own book, right? 🙂 )
12. Take an online course.
There are thousands of online courses to choose from. Choose wisely.
13. Build or fix something.
Fix a broken fan, build a computer, or make a table. These are skills that will come in handy in the future.
14. Visit museums.
A trip to a museum will make you more knowledgeable, and you’ll probably leave feeling inspired too.
What’s more, it’s typically free (or cheap) to get in.
15. Start a business.
You could start something small like a …
- Babysitting business
- Dog-walking business
- Pet-sitting business
Or you could think big like these 12 kids, who have built million-dollar businesses in arenas like app development, online advertising, fashion, and hair products.
16. Learn to manage your money.
Money management is a valuable life skill. Get started by checking out the resources at Practical Money Skills for Life.
17. Pick up a new hobby.
You will probably feel bored at some point during the school holidays. That’s the time to pick up a new hobby like…
- Playing the ukulele
18. Sell the things you aren’t using.
I’m sure you own many things you aren’t using, which other people would be willing to pay for.
So hold a garage sale, or put the items up for sale online.
19. Visit a nearby college or university.
Whenever I visit a college or university campus, I feel a sense of excitement. Colleges and universities are so full of youth, passion, knowledge, and potential.
This school holiday, visit one in your area. Learn about the courses and programs offered, and get a feel for the campus culture.
You might just leave the campus with a clearer vision of your future plans and goals.
20. Achieve an athletic goal.
Take Point #9 a step further and work toward a specific athletic goal.
Here are some examples:
- Do 15 pull-ups in 30 seconds
- Do 50 push-ups in 1 minute
- Do 60 sit-ups in 1 minute
- Run a mile under 7 minutes
- Hold a plank for 2 minutes
21. Reconnect with friends and family members.
Reconnect with friends and family members whom you didn’t get to spend much time with during the school term.
At the very least, send them a text or email to show them that you’re thinking of them.
22. Enjoy nature.
Go for a hike, have a picnic, fly a kite, or visit a nature reserve.
23. Learn about a country or place you don’t know much about.
The world is a fascinating place filled with fascinating countries and cities.
This school holiday, take some time to learn about the history and culture of a country or place you aren’t familiar with.
24. Improve your vocabulary.
Students’ success in school and life is linked to the size of their vocabulary, the research indicates.
I’m sure you want to be successful, so use these three resources to improve your vocabulary:
25. Improve your writing skills.
Writing skills are important for academic success, and they’re even more important for career success. So work on your writing skills this school holiday.
Read at least one of these books and put into practice what you’ve learned:
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
- Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Give away books and notes you no longer need, and files you no longer use. In addition, clear your desk and get organized.
This way, you’ll set yourself up for a fruitful upcoming semester.
27. Develop healthy habits.
Nathaniel Emmons once said, “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.”
These are possible habits to develop this school holiday:
- Daily reflection
- Reading for 15 minutes before bed
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Getting on a regular sleep schedule
- Drinking more water
28. Read articles on how to become a happy, successful student.
Read these articles (the last three are written by me):
- The Unintended Consequence of an Overwhelmed Student
- How to Stay Focused: Train Your Brain
- How to Study Smart: 20 Scientific Ways to Learn Faster
- 8 Truths That Successful Students Understand
- How I Became a Straight-A Student by Following These 7 Rules
29. Learn about your family history.
By doing this, you’ll discover interesting things about your family.
Not only that, research indicates that people who know their family history tend to have higher self-esteem too.
30. Learn time management skills.
Get started with these three resources:
31. Watch Khan Academy videos.
This school holiday, brush up on your math, science, and humanities by watching Khan Academy videos.
32. Increase your reading speed.
The faster you read, the faster you learn.
33. Try out geocaching.
If you don’t know what geocaching is, check out this page.
It’s a fun and educational activity!
34. Clear your email inbox.
Over the past semester, your email inbox has probably become flooded.
You may even have hundreds of emails that have yet to be processed or organized.
If this describes you, then read this fantastic article by Michael Hyatt and implement his tips.
35. Talk to as many adults as possible about career options.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your future career.
Reach out to your relatives, family friends, teachers, and neighbors. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee, and ask them if they’d be willing to share their experiences and insights.
Set a goal for this school holiday of talking to at least one adult a week about career options.
36. Create a personal website.
Your chances of getting into that program you’re applying for – or getting that job or internship – will be higher if you have a personal website.
I recommend using the WordPress platform for your website; here’s a complete website setup guide. And don’t worry, you don’t have to create your website from scratch. You can find over 30 free, professional-looking WordPress themes here.
37. Increase your typing speed.
In all likelihood, as you get older you’ll need to do more typing on your computer.
Explore these three websites to increase your typing speed:
38. Create checklists.
For tasks you perform repeatedly, create checklists so that you’ll save time in the long run.
For example, you could create a checklist for the things you ought to do…
- Every day when you get home from school
- When you start preparing for an exam
- Every weekend as you prepare for the upcoming week
- When you’re packing your bag
- Before you take an exam
- To reflect on your life periodically
39. Find a mentor.
A good mentor will help you become more self-aware, make better decisions, and find long-term success.
40. Write thank-you notes.
Many people say “thank you” via text message or email. But few people write actual thank-you notes. This school holiday, become one of those people.
Make a list of the people who have helped you in one way or another the past semester: friends, teachers, relatives, and family members.
Write each of those people a thank-you note. Then either mail the note to them or give it to them in person.
The bottom line
It’s impossible to do all 40 things described in this article.
Besides, I know you also want to have plenty of fun this school holiday.
So don’t feel overwhelmed.
Instead, develop a realistic plan.