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(Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

By Mae Mastin, Joliet West 

Spring break is almost (or, for some lucky students, already) here! Joliet West is off next week. If you’re not going somewhere warm, here are 9 things to do to get ahead during your break.

1. Visit a museum

Now is the perfect time to do all the things you never have time to do during the school year! Going to a museum is a great way to do something productive and fun. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has free admission (with suggested donation) every Thursday if you’re looking for something affordable and super fun.

2. Go on a college visit

With (hopefully) warmer weather, break is a good time to visit some colleges and tour their campuses. If you’ve never done it before, most colleges have an easy online signup system that lets you compare dates and times to find an option that works for you. Here’s an example from Loyola University in Chicago.

3. Study for AP or standardized tests

Testing is just around the corner! Use your extra time to go over your notes, look at test prep books, and take practice tests. It will pay off next month! Crash Course has a lot of reviews of AP courses if you’re looking for somewhere to start.

4. Go to a library program

Joliet Public Library is having a Meet a Sloth event, and the Chicago Public Library has some pretty cool ones coming up too.

5. Research colleges or majors—or job shadow someone in a career you’re interested in pursuing  

This is a good option if you’re unsure about what you want to do, but it’s also good if you do have an idea of where you’re going. Joliet Township’s Job Shadowing program for sophomores has led many students to realize they actual wouldn’t enjoy a career they thought they’d like, and it has also let many students know that they are on the right path.

6. Apply for scholarships

There are a ton of resources online for finding scholarships, but for another route, try The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2017: Billions of Dollars in Scholarships, Grants and Prizes. It’s a great way to start considering scholarships to pursue, even if you’re not a senior. There are options for everyone, and, with 1.5 million to choose from, there’s a good chance you’ll find something!

7. Volunteer

If you need community service hours for school or if you’re just looking for something fulfilling to do on your break, consider finding a volunteer opportunity. If you find something you like, also think about making it a long-term commitment—it’s great to be able to help out a lot with something you really enjoy. is a good place to start, or keep an eye out around your community for organizations that need a hand.

8. Find a summer job

The Joliet West counselors have suggested to their students that anyone looking for a summer job start now, and it’s a good idea! This might also be a good time to look at summer internships, classes, or camps, depending on what your summer plans are.     

Have a great break!


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