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Spring Break: What You Need to Know

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By: Elana Goodwin, Uloop

Spring break for college students is the motivation they need to make it through the first part of the spring semester after returning from winter break — and your student is likely no different.

But just because many college students opt to go somewhere warm for spring break and party the week away, doesn’t mean your student has to do that — or that you have to pay for it. Here’s what you need to know about spring break.

1. Your student needs the break

College can be challenging, and slogging through a good portion of the semester without a day off, as most colleges don’t really observe holidays after MLK Day in January, makes spring break seem like the reward for making it through so much school.

Sometimes, that break is best used for just relaxing and doing nothing — a luxury most students don’t have time to do during the semester. If your student just wants to come home and veg, that’s a legitimate decision and should be respected. Of course, while they’re home, you can also rope them into some other activities but make sure if they just want a break from the busyness of school that they get it.

2. Spring break can be meaningful

If your student does want to go somewhere on spring break, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should go to Mexico or Florida or the like. Many colleges offer alternative spring break trips that arrange for students to drive or fly somewhere for the week to volunteer and give back to a community.

As a student, I spent a spring break in Greenville, South Carolina volunteering at a Humane Society with a group of other college students — and it was not only fulfilling and fun, but there was free time after working to do other things, like explore the city and surrounding area.

Trips like Habitat for Humanity and other worthwhile and meaningful opportunities can be great things to do during spring break that will broaden your student’s experiences and introduce them to other college students they otherwise might not meet.

3. A vacation doesn’t need to break the bank

If your student does want to spend their spring break on a real vacation, it doesn’t need to be an expensive one — and you’re not obligated to pay for it. If they do want to fly off to Cancun or Miami, advise them to work during the semester to save up money for the trip or to plan ahead so they can find cheap fares and hotels.

Paying for your student to have a fancy vacation with hundreds of other college students is not something you have to do — nor even should do necessarily. Instead, if your student wants to go somewhere for spring break, they should look into alternative destinations that aren’t party central and that have more valuable or culturally interesting things to offer.

A road trip is also a good spring break activity that will allow your student to have a vacation but be cheaper than a plane ticket and offer them a way to explore a location not too far away from home or school.

4. Spring break is great for family time

Spring break is prime family time. If your student goes to school further away from home or isn’t able to make it back for visits very often, you should encourage them to come home for spring break and spend some time with the family. If possible, perhaps arrange for a family vacation somewhere so you all can spend time together but have a fun locale too. If your student’s grandparents live elsewhere, spring break may be a good time for your student to go visit them or for a family trip to see them. A family road trip if schedules align can also be a great way to spend a spring break, so some research into cool destinations within driving distance may pay off.

Even if you choose not to go somewhere but instead just want to enjoy having your student home, there are plenty of family activities you can do with your college student and the rest of the family. Consider fun outings like ice skating, bowling, paint night, skiing, going to a museum, watching a movie, and more enjoyable pastimes that allow your family to hang out, catch up, or just relish in each other’s’ company.

Just keep in mind and remind your student that just because it may seem like all college students go off to exotic locations to spend a week on a beach doesn’t mean they have to or even should. Instead, once you know when your student’s spring break will be, discuss what they’d like to do during that time or plan a family vacation to take advantage of the fact that your student is off school and has time to spend with you and the rest of your family.

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