In between family vacations, summer jobs and trips to the beach, high school and college students have other items to fit into their schedule.

There are many important deadlines to keep in mind over the summer. Here are a few things to make sure you are aware of during school breaks.

What should my college freshman make sure they are completing over the summer?

Your new college student should make sure that they visit their student portal to check for deadlines and important messages. Orientation will cover a lot of items, including registering for classes.

It is important to check the financial aid section and accept all aid that you plan to use. Each student will also need to visit to complete loan counseling and the master promissory note if they plan to take out the Stafford (Direct) student loan.

Now is the time to figure out how to pay for the fall tuition bill – which you should already have, or you will receive shortly. If loans are needed over and above the Stafford loan each family will have to analyze which of the other loan sources are right for them.

The scores from the Advanced Placement tests were released on July 8 for students in Michigan, so make sure that you check for the score to determine if college credits were received. Students may need to make adjustments to their schedules based upon the scores. Scholarships are still available to apply for and one of the best places to start is at the school your student is planning to attend. Each school typically has a link on their website to additional scholarships that are available.

I have a high school senior, what should they be doing this summer?

High school seniors should take advantage of the slower summer schedule to make sure they get their college applications completed. Even though the common application doesn’t open until Aug. 1, they can be using this time to complete the essay. The prompts have been available since earlier in the year. Now is the time to also to start requesting their letters of recommendation.

While there are over 800 schools that utilize the common application, there are still several thousand that use their own application. Make sure your student checks the website to determine if their school of choice has their application available now — and start the process. They will need to create an account at in order to provide their high school transcripts to the colleges they are applying to.

Seniors should also determine if their college of choice provides merit-based scholarships. Most colleges have a page on their website that contains the minimum GPA and standardized test score requirements for the various levels of scholarships.

It may be worth it to have your student take the SAT and/or ACT again if they can potentially increase the amount of aid they are receiving. There are test dates coming up in August and September, and now is a perfect time to register for those tests.

What should my high school freshman, sophomore or junior be concentrating on this summer?

Most parents aren’t aware of the fact that there is a great study aid available to prepare for upcoming PSAT dates. If your student visits they are able to set up a personalized study plan based upon their past PSAT scores. Most students utilize Khan Academy for assistance with school work, and there are many other tools available to them.

Younger students can also take the time to work on areas they may need to enhance to become what colleges want. Colleges look at GPA, standardized test scores, extra-curricular activities, rigor of courses, leadership qualities, volunteering and level of interest in the college to name a few. Take advantage of the generous businesses in our area that offer students the opportunity to job shadow or intern to learn more about career opportunities.

If you have questions of how to maneuver the college planning process, take advantage of Michigan College Planning’s College Planning workshop to learn more about the application process and how to become what colleges want. During the summer time they offer complimentary discovery meetings to learn more about the process.

Workshops will begin again in August to help you get a jump start on the school year. Visit or locations and dates. The workshops are informative and include steps you can take right now to assure you understand the cost of attendance and how you can afford college.

If you are unable to attend a workshop, feel free to call Michigan College Planning with your questions.

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 and at

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