Summer is here — and with it comes extra time for students to prepare for college.

While the fall still holds a lot of uncertainty, many colleges are putting together plans to hold in-person classes. University of Michigan recently announced plans to hold a mixture of in-person and remote classes to promote public health. Michigan State and Central Michigan University have similar plans — canceling fall break and ending all in-person instruction Nov. 25. It is critical to stay in touch with your college to determine what steps you may need to take to prepare for the fall.

Area schools are still working on plans for the fall, there are a variety of options that are being considered. One thing is certain — students will be attending class in some form — and plans for college are still needed.

College freshmen should be taking the time to verify that they have everything in place for the upcoming school year. Now is a great time to verify your financial aid offer, accept what aid you plan to take and search for additional scholarships or aid that might be available.

If you plan to take out student loans there are two steps you must complete — entrance counseling and completing the master promissory note. You can find both at www.studentaid.gov.

If COVID-19 has negatively impacted your family’s finances you should communicate with your financial aid office — there may be additional aid available to you.

Most college freshmen have completed their virtual orientation — complete with registering for fall classes. The AP scores will be posted July 15th. It is important to work with your college to determine what college credit you will receive and if you may need to change your schedule based upon your AP results.

Rising high school seniors will be taking the SAT in September in school — if schools are indeed open. However, there is still an opportunity to take the SAT and ACT this summer. Colleges utilize the results to determine merit based aid. At this time there is a ACT scheduled for July 18th and an SAT scheduled for Aug. 29. It is a great idea to register for the tests to make sure your student has a score to report to schools. Due to the cancellation of school in March, most Seniors have not taken the ACT or SAT yet. Many colleges are still trying to determine how they are going to make their acceptance selections with this unprecedented year.

Students have time to prepare for the upcoming ACT and SAT and decide if they are going to take both of the tests. There are plenty of study resources available — including Khan Academy and act.org. There are many online virtual prep courses available as well as local tutors that can meet virtually. Two of the local tutors in the Traverse City area are Susan Abrahams and Sharon Burnor. Susan Abrahams can be found at www.susanabrahamstutoring.com and Sharon Burnor can be reached at www.thevarsityscholar.com. There are other tutors in our area — feel free to contact our office or ask your counselor for more information.

Now is a great time to contact the schools that you are interested in applying to in order to determine if they have made changes to their test requirements. This is changing on a regular basis — and it can’t be emphasized enough — communication with your schools of choice is more important than ever. As a reminder, colleges utilize the following in their acceptance process — GPA, ACT and/or SAT scores, application essay, rigor of courses, level of interest in the college, extracurricular activities, leadership and volunteering.

The Common App will open on Aug. 1 and can be accessed at www.commonapp.org. The Common App is used by more than 800 colleges across the country. Make the time to put your plan together to complete your college applications. Many schools that use their own applications have those available on various dates. Check the college website to determine if they have their own application or use the Common App. You can also see a list of items that are required to apply — these may include a college specific essay, letters of recommendation or personal interview. The essay prompts are available for the Common App — so take advantage of working on your essay now.

Some tips for the essay include — write about something that’s important to you, don’t just recount — reflect, being funny is tough — but if you can make the admissions staff laugh it helps set you apart, start now and write several drafts, it is critical that you answer the question being asked and have at least one other person edit your essay — your English teacher is a great resource! It has been recommended to avoid writing about COVID-19 — that topic will certainly be overused.

Since Michigan College Planning wasn’t able to hold the college planning workshops at the local schools this Spring we have put together other resources to help families virtually — including a recording of our workshop. Contact our office for more details.

Michigan College Planning offers a complimentary consultation — so if you would like to schedule an in-person or virtual meeting contact us by phone or email.

Vicki L. Beam is a college planner at Michigan College Planning located in Traverse City. She encourages questions and comments about future columns. Contact Michigan College Planning at (231)947-0203, by email at vicki@michigancollegeplanning.com and at www.michigancollegeplanning.com.

Vicki L. Beam is a college planner at Michigan College Planning located in Traverse City. She encourages questions and comments about future columns. Contact Michigan College Planning at (231)947-0203, by email at vicki@michigancollegeplanning.com and at www.michigancollegeplanning.com.

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