March 1, 2011 | Suzanne Shaffer | Leave a comment It’s March 1st and that means only one thing to college studentsâ€”spring break is just around the corner. The words “spring break” are synonymous with partying, so much so that a study was conducted around spring break drinking patterns. According to the study, the average male drinks 18 drinks a day and the average female drinks 10. More than 50 percent drank until they became sick or passed out and one third reported being drunk daily. Along with alcohol consumption, almost half engaged in unplanned and unprotected sex. Instead of spending your spring break passed out, bombed and sleeping with strangers, why not opt for some of these alternative spring break activities? Your body will thank you, your parents will thank you, and you won’t have regrets when you return to college to finish the semester. 1-Volunteer in your community If you don’t have the funds or the inclination to go somewhere, try volunteering for a week in your community. Contact your local United Way, Salvation Army or Goodwill or check with your campus to for an organization called Break Away, offering opportunities for you to serve your community by working in orphanages, picking up trash, or doing beach clean up. 2-Hike the Appalachian Trail If you are an outdoor person, hiker or camper, you’ve probably dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail one day. The Appalachian Trail offers novice and experienced hikers opportunities to explore and connect with nature. The trail is a privately managed unit of the national park system and the nation’s longest marked footpath, at approximately 2,181 miles. It traverses eight national forests, touches 14 states, and houses more than 2,000 occurrences of rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species at about 535 sites. You can plan a week long hike, called a “section hike”, with your friends. What better way to spend your spring break than immersed in nature and the outdoorsâ€”a welcome break from being cooped up in a college classroom. 3-Work for Habitat for Humanity Habitat For Humanity is an international, nonprofit housing organization, working in partnership with families in need of decent shelter and with supervised volunteers, using largely donated materials, to build homes in the U.S. and around the world. College students from across the country have volunteered in the past to help with their endeavors, most recently rebuilding homes along the Gulf Coast and in Florida. Imagine ending your spring break with an accomplishmentâ€”building a home for a family in need. 4-Look for a job If you’re approaching graduation, or looking for an internship, spend your break on the job hunt. Summer internship searches should begin early and if you spend your break searching online or with local companies, you will be ahead of those who chose to spend their break on the beach. A week is also a great time to shadow someone to become educated on the everyday aspects of your dream job. Contact your career center or look online at companies that interest you and contact them by telephone to ask if they offer job shadowing. 5-Visit your friends who are studying abroad Take the opportunity to do some global traveling during spring break. Fares are generally cheaper during the off season and you can snag some great fares because you are a college student. The benefits to visiting your friends are: a free place to crash, a tour guide (your friend) that knows the area, and the cultural experience of a lifetime. 6-Volunteer in the National Parks Feel like giving something back to the environment? American Hiking’s Volunteer Vacations offer you an opportunity to spend your break raking, shoveling, trimming, lopping and chopping trails within the national park system. They offer opportunities in many states and all you need to bring is your own camping gear. Their motto is: Get Out. Give Back. You can help preserve the national parks for your generation and future generations. 7-Catch up on your studying Even though this may appear to be boring and unimaginative, many college students could use the time catching up on their assigned reading and working on term papers that are due at the end of the semester. The campus library will be quiet, as will your on-campus dorm. This is a perfect opportunity for you to get a leg up on the rest of the semester. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish with no interruptions and quiet solitude. 8-Go to the happiest place on earth Disney is not just for the little ones. College students can have a great time at a Disney park over spring break. Rates are relatively affordable. You can share a room and take advantage of student airfare discounts. One college student summed it up: “the party is where you make it.Â And, if you’re with a group of friends, the party is where you take it.” 9-Do some spring cleaning Spend your spring break cleaningâ€”the planet. One community college group is going to spend their break in Kentucky picking up garbage out of the Ohio River. One of the students who participated in a similar event last year said, “The experience for me was absolutely amazing. I never would have known how much people throw away.” Check with your campus volunteer center for similar opportunities or contact local organizations. 10-Take in some history If you’re lucky enough to live near some cities steeped with history (Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C.), why not spend your spring break learning about how our nation began. Boston has numerous walking tours throughout the city, the Freedom Trail being the most famous. Washington D.C. is filled with hundreds of free exhibits and museums available to the public. Spending a week in any of these cities will make you appreciate your country, the sacrifice of your forefathers, and the purpose-driven dreams of the first immigrants. Spring break is an opportunity for you to take a week in your life and enjoy yourself. But you can make a wise choice and opt to invest your time in something worthwhile, or spend it with friends without engaging in dangerous behavior. What are your spring break plans? Would you ever consider doing any of these activities? Have you ever participated in any of them in the past? Please leave your comments.