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Colleges and universities can help their students thrive over spring break with educational and personal development opportunities.

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For many colleges, academic breaks provide students a chance to reset and refocus on their academics away from campus. But spring break can also be an opportunity for learning and engagement to support student flourishing.

Here are five examples of initiatives colleges and universities provide over spring break that promote student wellness, academic achievement, thriving and personal growth.

Service-learning experiences

At the University of Maryland, students can opt into an Alternative Break, in which the Office of Leadership and Community Service-Learning groups students with domestic and international nonprofit groups to complete volunteer work that benefits the community.

Students apply during the winter and participate in a kickoff event and pre-trip meetings to learn more about what they’ll be doing. During the week, students learn about social justice issues such as poverty, climate change and disabilities while working alongside a team to make a difference.

The University of South Florida at St. Petersburg provides Un-BULL-ievable Service Break Trips (USB) each spring, which also connect students and a nonprofit organization. The trips are hosted by the Office of Leadership and Student Organizations.

Both USF and UMD allow past participants to serve as student leaders on a subsequent trip, providing professional development and leadership skills to learners.

Short-term study abroad

At Pennsylvania State University, students who enroll in an embedded course complete a short-term international trip during their spring break, making study abroad more accessible for students who can’t devote a whole term to being abroad or who may be unfamiliar with international travel.

Courses vary, but students from any major can participate. This spring, topics ranged from immersive Korean to organized crime and comparative labor, and human resources. Eligible students can receive scholarship funding to help cover the costs of participation, reducing some of the barriers for interested students.

Career treks

Spring break can be the perfect time to expose students to different career fields and job opportunities before the summer break, when many will take on internships.

College career centers host career exploration trips to show students a city different than their college town, highlight the career paths of alumni, introduce students to employers and job sites as well as provide professional development education and practice opportunities.

The University of Dayton hosts the Dayton2DC career immersion trip each spring and requires each participant to complete a six-week minicourse prior to the trip to help them get the most out of their experiences.

Learn more about hosting a career trek here.

Wellness support

While classes and academic work may pause for spring break, the usual stressors of life don’t. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill created a resource list for students who may need help with well-being strategies during their break. University staff provided a list of modified service hours for commonly used facilities and offices if students need to access help during break, as well.

Financial wellness can be a primary concern for some learners if they’re traveling, so helping students with budgeting and money management can also help with their well-being.

Housing assistance

While spring break can be an exciting time for some students wanting to get off campus, it can be stressful for unhoused or housing-insecure students if residence halls are closed or they must pay a fee to remain on campus

Southern Illinois University offers students free housing over academic breaks as well as expanded resources to help students while campus is operating on a more limited scale.

Students can receive small appliances and other cookware, such as mini-fridges, air fryers and pots and pans from the campus food pantry. The university also added 24-7 counseling and psychological services for students in crisis or who are looking for additional support during breaks.

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This article has been updated to correct the spelling of University of South Florida.

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