5 Ways to Embrace the Academic Meaning of Christmas

Christmas has a different meaning for different people:

  • A great religious event.
  • An excuse for partying.
  • A time for prezzies.
  • The time of the year for family gatherings.
  • An opportunity to let go and eat/drink all you want for once (stuff the turkey and stuff the diet).

What meaning does it have for students?

If you take a sensible view, Christmas is a time for students to do the following:

  • Take stock
  • Relax
  • Revise
  • Plan
  • Tidy Up

twinkle (photo by katiew)


Whatever year you’re in, the Christmas break is a very good time to look at the time spent so far. You won’t be in the thick of things. Even if you remain on campus during the hols, most others won’t be, so you have a great opportunity to ask yourself some questions and get an understanding of where you’re at.

Freshers/1st Year/Level 1 – How has the new life changed the way you think, the way you live, the way you view the world, the way you want to be? Have you felt a good balance between your work and your social time? Do you have any wishes, any regrets, any need to improve?

2nd Year/Level 2 – Pretty much halfway through your degree now. Do you feel stable? Are you ready for more? Do you have the control to push yourself further as the degree gets deeper and more focused? Have you given the work your full attention, or do you need to knuckle down from now on?

3rd Year/Level 3 – How is your Final Year Project going? Is your research totally focused now? Do you have specific goals based on your previous two years of study? What else do you want to achieve before your time at uni has ended? Do you want to continue your academic study at Postgrad level, or are you planning various career moves?

2 – PLAN

Once you’ve taken stock, as suggested above, there’s no point in leaving it at that alone.  Bring all your thoughts together and note down what you want to do for the rest of the year and beyond.

If you’ve got goals, you’ll get a lot further if you have a plan of getting from A to B…


As school children, Christmas was a big celebration. In the world of work, Christmas is a couple of extra days holiday. For anyone at university, Christmas is a strange situation.

There’s no denying that university equals a lot more than just doing work. Of course, this blog has a lot of study tips, but the secret to a successful time at uni is to use it with every possible part of your life.

So when Christmas comes along, you no longer have the nightly events, the parties, the tens/hundreds/thousands of friends on hand to do something at the last minute, or the fun community spirit that shouts “holiday camp” as opposed to “study area”.

At a time like this, I would suggest a period of relaxation. You’ve been granted a few weeks to recharge your batteries, so get recharging! Then you’ll be more than ready to burst back onto the scene in January.

Don’t…Panic just Relax - photo by Tiago Daniel


Relaxing doesn’t mean you stop revising…

You’ll probably have exams looming when you return to uni. Obviously you’ll be spending some of your break on revision, but many students are fooled into ignoring the revision until they get back. You may have a week back at university where you’re meant to be back from Christmas and working toward the impending exams/essays that are due.

Rather than wait for the allotted uni-time for revision, make a point of spending very short bursts of time during the hols on getting up to speed. It’ll boost your confidence. It’ll also give you the chance to find out what you already know and let you focus later on what’s important.


You’ve suddenly been given some time away from the (by now) norm. That means it’s the best time to sort out what you’ve got and get rid of all the crap.

I mean it. Spring clean like it’s, erm…Spring! You may have started uni with a million items, of which you’ve used less than half of the stuff.

If you’ve had lots of junk gathering dust, make a decision about what you’re going to do with it. Throwing it away, selling it, leaving it at home…it doesn’t really matter; just do something with the junk.

The same goes for your notes, photocopies and degree materials. It’s now your chance to get everything into a nice order, get rid of the unneccessary overspill, tidy up any important notes you’ve made, and take control of what you’ve got.

Tidying Room - photo by Andy H McDowall