February College Guy Rant for Seniors: Thank you letters, follow packages, and chillin' while you wait!

Hey Seniors - so how ‘bout them Pats, huh? Gotta love a dynasty (unless you’re a hater and you don’t!). 


Even better news: pitchers and catchers report to spring training in EIGHT DAYS!!!! How cool is that???!!!!


Ahem, okay, that was your sports roundup. Read on.


If there’s an equivalent to summertime’s “Dog Days” in the college admissions timeline, it’s now. It’s a bit of a waiting game after you’ve done your thing and you’re waiting for the colleges to do theirs. Certainly many of you have heard from some of your colleges, but the majority of selective colleges will take their sweet time and won’t let you know for another month or even more. Here’s a brief “heads up” on some things to keep in mind and perhaps do…




It’s not too late to send a “follow up package” of additional information to your colleges which haven’t yet made their decisions. See my rant from January 15th for instructions on how to go about this, as well as an example to use. 




Remember that when you do find out that you’ve been accepted to a college you have untilMay 1 to make your final decision. Colleges are businesses and naturally want to “close the deal” so they may sound as if you should send in that deposit and letter of intention to come ASAP, but there’s no rush, and you should not let yourself be pressured. Obviously you need to wait until all your schools’ have rendered their decision and, more importantly for those of you who are going to depend on financial aid to attend college, till you've receive your full financial aid award from each school.


Once you’ve been accepted give your college two weeks to follow up with a financial aid award. If none is forthcoming by then call the school’s financial aid office and ask when you can expect to receive it. Note that some schools list your financial aid through your student portal, which you were instructed to set up and check regularly at the time you applied. Make sure you’re doing that!


Parents: do you know that financial aid awardscan be appealedif you feel the school has not met your need? I believe there is a very specific and unambiguous method to determine what your need is (note that “need” is not the same as “want”), and whether or not the school has met it. If you feel uncertain about where you stand give me a call and I’ll do my best to help. I also assist families with the appeal process every winter/spring and I’ll be glad to explain how I go about doing that if you contact me.




Here’s one more thing to do when you’ve received an acceptance from a school: send a quick “thank you, I’m grateful and excited!” email to them. Address it to the person who signed your admissions letter and cc it to any other contacts you may have made along the way. Write something like this:


(Make the subject line read “A message from Accepted Student Derek Jeter, student ID # xxxxxxx)


Hi, I’m Derek Jeter from Portland, Maine and I’ve recently received my acceptance letter from ________. I’m writing to tell you how excited I am (if you were offered a merit scholarship add) and also how grateful I am to receive your generous offer of a University Achievement Grant for $8,000 per year (specify the name and amount of the award they gave you).


Please know that as I await word from a few remaining schools I’ve applied to, ___________ is a school I’m very seriously considering and is high on my list of options.


Thanks so much for your confidence in me.


Sincerely, DJ


Writing this email is just plain smart, courteous, and good karma. Ya dig?




This is also the time of year colleges may be asking families to provide additional documentation of 2017 income and assets. Many will be notified that you've been chosen for “verification”, and you’ll be asked to complete a three or four page form and perhaps upload some documents. This isn’t particularly complicated or onerous - but don’t ignore it! If you’ve got questions or hit a snag with a particular school or schools give me a call. 


As Brother James Taylor says: “That’s why I’m here”! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6tFKChEq4A)


Carry on, keep warm and enjoy the lengthening of the days.


Gary AKA The College Guy


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.