We Americans like to put things together. Peanut butter and jelly is a classic; movies aren’t movies without popcorn; and road trips without music can be just plain dull. But as a former student, I can attest to the fact that studying and winter break is a significantly less appealing combo. We want to do all the things associated with Christmas: ice skating, building gingerbread houses, caroling door-to-door, decorating the tree, and the list goes on and on. And, of course, you should make time to do all these things because that’s what makes the holiday season magical. But we tend to overemphasize the importance of tangible gifts, and we ask ourselves questions like, What should I buy my impossible-to-shop-for brother? Or, What if I don’t get that new laptop I need for school? I can’t answer the first question for you, as I’m still dealing with that issue myself, but what I can tell you is that that laptop isn’t going to last you forever. It may get stolen; you might drop it and crack the screen; or maybe one day it simply stops turning on. I can also promise you that you won’t be satisfied with it forever even if it does stand the test of time. Newer, faster, “cooler” laptops are coming out all the time, ones that lure us in and make us forget all about our old ones. But what if I told you there was a gift you could give yourself that no one could steal, break or ruin? You probably think you know where I’m going with this. Oh, boy. She’s going to say something cheesy like faith or dignity or pride. No, I’m not. While those are all valuable gifts, I can tell you that one of the things I am most grateful for these days is my college degree. Sure, someone could theoretically steal the diploma from my room or rip it up, but no one can take away the fact that I graduated. No one can go inside my head and take all my knowledge. And no one can take away all my memories of college life either. So how do you get into a good college? Well, college admission committees look at a variety of factors, including leadership experience and extracurricular involvement, but none of these mean very much if the student has lousy grades. So I encourage you to stay active during the holiday season and take an hour here and there to hit the books (they don’t hit back). If you do, I guarantee that those college admission committees will notice your hard work, extend an offer of admission, and that at the end of those four years you will be walking across the stage to receive your unretractable, unperishable gift of a lifetime. Happy holidays!
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