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A lot has happened in the course of the past two months, since I last blogged about my experiences in college. Since then, winter break has come and gone, classes have begun once again and I’m already looking ahead to what I’d like to do this summer.

I’d say the most important thing that happened during break was that I had the opportunity to take a step back and analyze where I had been, where I was then and where I wanted to be. In other words, I had time to evaluate my commitments. I could decide whether I wanted to stay in the organizations I had been involved with so far or I could decide to try new things.

I decided my heart wasn’t entirely set on most of what I’d been working on, so I dropped those things.

Shedding Commitments

Saying no and quitting can be difficult. Trust me, I know that first hand. It can be especially hard to do if you’re the kind of person who just goes AWOL, never shows up to meetings again and calls that quitting. I had done that in the past, but now in college, I didn’t want to do it again. I did not want to repeat bad habits. So, I wrote emails expressing my reasons for departing the organizations.

Some of the officers replied wanting me to stay; others thanked me and wished me well. The responses varied greatly, but it felt good to know that I had formally withdrawn from participation rather than just unplugging myself without giving anyone any type of warning ahead of time.

If you’re thinking about dropping clubs, the end or the beginning of a semester is the perfect time to do so because after a full semester of participation, you will have had enough experience with an organization to know whether it really is for you. This is also a good time if you’re thinking about joining a student organization.

Planning for Summer

The other thing about the spring semester is that summer is right around the corner, and with that comes a new challenge: What to do in the coming summer?

Let me tell you what that question really translates to: more applications than ever before.

As college students, of course we need to work over the summer, but we also want to gain experience in our fields of interest; however, it seems that our society isn’t very conducive to doing both. Most internships are unpaid, found in major cities where obtaining a job as a college freshman can be difficult. On the flip side, jobs are often found back home; for many of us, myself included, that means that opportunities to intern aren’t really there.

As of now, I have a mixture of plans. I’ve applied to study French abroad, intern on Capitol Hill, work back home and also work here in New Haven for the summer. The key to summer plans is that you always need back-up plans because for one reason or another—costs, emergencies, rejections, etc.—they may not work out as you intend them to. And, keep in mind it’s good to apply to several positions within the same category.

Be Organized and Start Early

I could say this over and over again: organization is truly what makes a person successful in college. You can’t do too many things if you’re not organized. Managing classes, clubs, sports and homework is difficult if you can’t keep track of the all work you’re supposed to be doing.

My suggestion for future first-generation students is to consider getting a head start on this process during winter break. The turnaround time is extremely fast—after all, it’s already February.