Hey there sports fans – there’s plenty of time left before the May 1st deadline for depositing but make no mistake –  it’s a-coming. Some of you have made your final decision and already sent in deposits. Others are still lingering over the indecision chasm, either for want of a clear preference or for need of additional money.  This email is for those students and families in the latter group.

Want to know why decisions like this are so tough? A linguistics maven friend of mine told me that the word “decide” comes from the Latin (or was it Greek?) root word “cide” – which means, literally, “to kill”. Words like suicide, homicide, patricide, genocide, etc. all come from that root. See, when you have a tough decision to make, like whom to ask to the prom, or what college to say yes to, the thing that makes it tough is that by choosing one, you’re figuratively “killing off” the other, not chosen, option. So you see, of course decisions are hard! You’re in effect “killing” one option even as you gain something else.

Freaky huh?

Visiting your potential schools now that you’ve been accepted is a smart thing to do. Call each school to let them know you’re coming, and ask if you can shadow a student, and parents can request meetings with financial aid if you’re seeking additional funds. I’m not a big fan of visiting colleges on “accepted students’ day” because they’ll be all gussied up for you and you won’t be seeing the school on a “normal” spring day. If possible make your visit when there’s not an accepted students open house.
If any of you want to talk strategy, or need help with your decision process, please don’t hesitate to give me a jingle or email. And for those families who are struggling with the financial aid part of the puzzle, give me a call and I’ll explain the correct way to go about appealing for more aid. Let me know if I can be of help.Sheeesh. Bet you never thought life would be so complicated! Get used to it! And try not to get disheartened or discouraged! There’s plenty of good times coming your way, and it will outweigh all this burdensome stuff, trust me on that!

Whatever situation you find yourself in, good luck, and remember that your success (immediate….eventual…. and inevitable!) doesn’t depend nearly so much upon the ‘pedigree’ or reputation of the school you attend, than it does on the readiness and attitude and psych you bring with you next fall. Refer to Oh, The Places You’ll Go by T. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss!) – one of my kids’ and my earliest favorite reads. I’ll bet it was the same for many of you long ago!


Now, here’s a little addition for your “to do” lists: once you’ve made that final decision you should write a nice note to EACH school where you got accepted and WILL NOT be attending to “let ’em down gently”. When schools know for sure who’s coming and who isn’t, they can turn to their wait list, so think of it as doing a favor to some kid sitting in limbo. Besides, it never hurts to do the right thing and to leave bridges unburned – you never know when you may wish to re-cross them. I’ve always felt that if a school accepts you once (and offers you money), they’ll accept you again (and offer similar money barring you winning the lottery) if you should ever knock on their door again.

Here’s a suggested format for such a letter – you can do it by email. Include your address and the student ID number if they gave you one. Send it to the director of admission and “cc” a copy to any and all admissions advisors, financial aid folks, coaches, professors, other faculty you may have developed a relationship with along the way.

It’s just the right thing to do.


Temple University
Office of Admissions

Dear ____________,

This letter is written to inform you that I have decided to accept an offer of admissions at another school, and to let you know that I will not be attending Temple next fall.

(whether you tell them where you’re going is up to you – you’re not obliged and it’s really none of their business – EXCEPT IN CASES where money was the overwhelming concern and you appealed for more from them and they didn’t give it to you. In these cases tell ’em, and remind them that was the reason.)

I want you to know that my decision was an extremely difficult one, and that Temple was clearly one of my top choices. The decision was finalized after considering (give them a reason or two, but again, let ’em down gently! You may even mention one or two things they would have offered you which you’re sorry you’re passing up, which shows why the decision was such a hard one).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to beginning my college career next fall, and I’m happy that I had two such wonderful schools to select from (even if you’re writing this letter to more than one school, tell ’em it was down to just them and the school you chose. Sometimes a little fib is worth telling!) I wish you the best of luck with your incoming class of 2023, and I thank you again for your confidence in me and your offer of acceptance***.


Joe Beets
email address

Student ID #: 123-45-6789

***(in cases where a school offered you significant money, make mention of that here, such as “…and I thank you again for your confidence in me and your offer of acceptance, as well as the generous Presidential Scholarship you made available to me.”)



If you’re wondering whether you can appeal/request additional aid from schools which have accepted your son or daughter, the answer is yes, you can. The trick is doing it the right way, and not being greedy. Give me a call or email if you’d like to discuss your particular situation. I’m around during most of vacation week.

Many families ask me about borrowing: you should understand the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loan, know what a Perkins Loan is, as well as what Institutional Loans (provided by the college itself), Parent Plus loans, and Alternative Loans are.

Best thing to do is to carefully read and rely on the information provided to you by your chosen school. Call them for information and clarification. And take my advice and do your best to keep junior’s indebtedness as close to $22,000 over the next four years as you can (that’s borrowing the allowed $5,500 in Federal Stafford Loans yearly, and no more!)

I know some of you are saying “Yeah, right!”. I understand these are hard and emotional times. Feel free to contact me if you still have questions – I may be able to talk you through some of the detail stuff.***

If anyone finds themselves on a waiting list for a school they REALLY REALLY REALLY still want to go to, there is a play – albeit a long shot – to make. Ask me for my “how to escape wait list hell” rant.


Okay, that’s about all I’ve got today (that’s enough, huh?). Those of you who have not spoken/written to me in a while, don’t be a stranger! Let me know what’s up and what your final decision is!!!! Remember my business runs exclusively on word of mouth, so if you think these emails have been useful I’d appreciate your telling students and parents of students from the class of 2020 and beyond about me!

From your larrupin’ logician, your jovial adjudicator, your manic mentor,


P.S. You didn’t really think I’d be telling you the meaning of life, did you? Then again, that Dr. Seuss book comes pretty close…!!!

Gary L. Canter
College Placement Services
210 St. John Street
Portland, Maine 04102
(207) 772-9711

College Placement Services provides high school students and their families
assistance with all aspects of the college search, selection, application
and financial aid process.