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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools and Middle School Principals


FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:             December 10, 2003


RE:                   College Planning Guide – Please Distribute



I know this is a busy time of year in your schools, but I write today to make sure you make the most of a great opportunity for your students.


The Mitchell Institute has teamed up with Central Maine Power to develop, print, and distribute a College Planning Guide – and they are sending copies to middle school principals throughout the state in the next few weeks.  Your school will receive enough copies to send a Guide home with every 7th and 8th grader at your school. 


I want to encourage you to find a way to distribute and use this College Planning Guide in a meaningful way for your students and their parents.  As the Mitchell Institute’s report on Barriers to College for Maine Students concluded when it was issued a year and a half ago, Maine students need to be more proactive in their planning for life after high school.  We hope you can find a fun and energetic way to put these Guides in your students’ hands, and to ensure they get put to good use.  Have an assembly, present it as a milestone, hand them out at parent conferences – there are lots of options.  Please make the most of the information in the Guide, and the opportunities it presents for your students.


If you have questions, please feel free to contact Colleen Quint, executive director of the Mitchell Institute ( or 773-7700).











Press Release for College Planning Guide



The Sen. George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute and Central Maine Power announced today their partnership in a key initiative aimed at removing barriers to higher education for Maine students.  The Mitchell Institute and CMP have teamed up to create and distribute a College Planning Guide, aimed at providing critical information to middle school and high school students and their parents. 


This week, over 35,000 copies of the Guide are being sent to middle schools throughout Maine.  The Guides will be distributed to 7th and 8th graders at those schools.  It also may be accessed at the Mitchell Institute website ( and the CMP website (


The Guide provides practical information on preparing for, applying to and financing college.  It includes a glossary of terms common in admissions and financial aid, tips on writing the college essay, and a timeline for students from 8th grade through 12th grade.  It also contains information on financial resources as well as on-line resources.


Maine Commissioner of Education Susan Gendron hailed the effort.  “This College Planning Guide is a tremendously helpful resource to Maine students and their families.  Perhaps most importantly, it has been designed to help the student who might not be thinking of college and walks them through the process of preparing for that critical step.”


When the Mitchell Institute issued its report on Barriers to Postsecondary Education for Maine Students:  Making College the Obvious and Affordable Next Step for More Maine Students a year and a half ago, it cited the concern that Maine students wait until late in their high school careers to begin planning for college. 


“We hope this Guide prompts students and parents to start thinking and planning earlier for life after high school,” said Colleen Quint, executive director of the Mitchell Institute.  “We want them to be prepared for great opportunities when they graduate.”


Sara Burns, president of CMP, stated, “With so many jobs in today’s economy requiring a college degree, we want to do our part to help Maine students prepare for the future.  We were struck by the findings of the Barriers report and see the Guide as a way of providing practical information as well as encouragement to Maine students to plan early and aim high.”


The initial development of the Guide arose from a leadership weekend held for Mitchell Scholars last winter.  The students designed projects aimed at removing barriers to college, and most of their plans included visiting high schools to share information about college planning.  The staff at the Mitchell Institute developed the Guide for use in that effort, and CMP made the commitment to ensure the Guide could be used even more broadly throughout the state.