By: Mathew Hilton, MS, SPT
University of Delaware Physical Therapy
The holidays are right around the corner and many of us will be enjoying the food, family and friends that come with this time of year. Some students may feel that they have some extra time during this part of the year and they might be wondering how they can prepare for their upcoming applications.
Here are some ways that you can still enjoy the holidays while making the most of your time away from classes:
1. Study for the GRE
*(Cue the groans)* Okay hear me out! I know this is probably the last thing that you want to think about during your break, but this is a fairly manageable, yet significant task to complete if you plan this right.
I would recommend buying a test prep book (or borrowing a used one that has unmarked practice tests) and set a goal to complete one chapter per day. I used Princeton Review and I spent maybe 1-2 hours on average per day just reading through the chapter and completing the practice problems. After you complete the chapters, then you should take each practice test under REAL testing conditions (this means timing each section and taking the test without distractions).
In addition, you should download a GRE vocab app (there are several) for your smart phone. Whenever you have down time, you can just pull up the app and start going through flashcards. Persistence is key since this is all about memorization, therefore the earlier you can start--the better.
You can schedule to take the GRE on most days of the year so you can schedule to take the GRE on the last day before the break ends and then be done with it.
2. Volunteer at a SNF/Rehab Hospital/Hospice Care Facility
What many people may not realize is that patients in inpatient facilities (SNFs, rehab hospitals and hospice care) still need physical therapy on holidays. Ask these facilities if they'd be willing to allow you to volunteer throughout the holidays.
This can be especially helpful for the facility considering that many therapists will be wanting to take off time for the holidays or extended vacation plans so the remaining staff could really use any extra set of hands available.
If you're able to shadow for four hours per day, five days per week for two weeks, you can easily acquire 40 hours in a short period of time. This amount of time equates to a full work week, which DPT programs often view as a significant amount of time for a given setting.
3. Relax and Recharge
This is obvious and I'm sure many will elect to do this anyways, but I really would like to encourage students to get back to the things they love doing that maybe they didn't have time to do while in school.
Also, take some time to reflect on the previous term. Did you grades turn out the way you had hoped? What adjustments may you need to make before going into the next term? Do you need to set a weekly schedule, seek out tutoring or reevaluate your other commitments? Your grades are important, so careful planning is the key to building a strong application.
What else are you looking forward during these holidays? Let us know in the comments!