You have 1,001 tasks to accomplish during Thanksgiving Break—and your high school senior has even more.

Traveling for the holiday. College applications. Work. Homework. Spending time with friends. Completing senior projects. Black Friday. Volunteering.

The list goes on.

If your senior checks off only five things this Thanksgiving Break, it needs to be these.

    1. Finish Essays

We are not kidding about this one.

A high school senior who hasn’t finished college application essays is about to start missing deadlines.

Fortunately, a lot of universities use a common application that will keep your high school senior from stressing about writing 17 essays during one holiday break.

Here are the main two:

Of course, some universities that your high school senior is interested in applying to will require individual responses to their specific essay question or questions.

A good essay takes time and many drafts to showcase a senior’s strengths and tell a story about the college student he or she will become.

This Thanksgiving Break, ask your senior to read the finished essay or essays out loud to you. This will help your senior make final edits and amaze you with what an accomplished person he or she has become.

    2. Submit Applications

The fourth Thursday of November is actually a great day to hit the SUBMIT button.

School is out. There’s abundant good food. A big block of family time has been set aside. And there are usually no other social commitments (except, perhaps, a late night Black Friday doorbuster).

With so many college application deadlines happening in the winter (which coincide with midterms, holiday travel, and senioritis), it’s a smart move for seniors to get some or all of those applications finished now.

Taking the time to complete this massive task during the break will lift a weight off of your high school senior’s shoulders and allow her to celebrate her huge accomplishment.

Does your senior like using lists? Here’s a handy senior checklist from NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) that he might want to use.

    3. Confirm Receipt of Application Materials

There are only two good ways to confirm that the university has received a complete college application from your high school senior.

But first, here are some ways not to go:

  • ● Emailing the admissions department
  • ● Calling the admissions department
  • ● Tagging the university on social media
  • ● Following admissions counselors online or in person
  • ● Standing forlornly outside of the admissions building

All of these send a negative message to admissions about your high school senior’s maturity and competence.

Instead, do these things:

  • ● If you submit online, use the university or application website to ensure that the application is complete and received.
  • ● If you submit by mail (which is not recommended), use Delivery Confirmation™ Services to track the arrival and receipt of the envelope.

    4. Get Refocused

It’s common knowledge that feeling overwhelmed leads to procrastination and stress.

Find a special time to sit down with just your high school senior to review what has been done and figure out what’s next.

Something as simple as writing down a short list of achievable tasks with reasonable deadlines or a SMART goal can help your high school senior clear away the mental fog and resist the temptation to get distracted or give up.

The countdown to graduation is about to switch over from months to weeks, so it’s tempting to slack off on school. Participation in clubs and groups (and class) feels optional.

Most students need encouragement—and all of them need some guidance!

Let her know that you’re there for her and believe in her success.

Tell him that you’re confident he can complete the goals he’s set for himself.

Help your high school senior figure out what to focus on now.

    5. Be Thankful

Your high school senior should spend some time this Thanksgiving Break practicing thankfulness.

Gratitude—one of the healthiest, happiest outlooks of all—can help a senior find the right words for essays, appreciate the opportunities that applications will bring, manage worry and stress, and recognize the value of pursuing goals.

Model all the good that comes from thankfulness by showing your high school senior what a thankful attitude can accomplish.

Tell your high school senior you are thankful that she is your child.

Ask him to share what he is thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Break probably isn’t long enough to do all 1,001 things, but it is long enough to start your family on a mindset of thankfulness.