Just the other day I was reading a book that suggested mapping the unknown.  Sounds almost impossible, right?  I started by thinking about what I don’t know about a project I needed to start (working for The Climate Project as a graphic recorder for a World Cafe) … and the map began to take shape.  In a few minutes I had created…

Jill's drawing

Now, I had a sense of my questions:

  • What are the key elements of the process?  The questions/the framework, the people, the budget?
  • What is the scope of the project and what is the sequence of events?
  • Where do I start, what are the first steps?
  • How do I feel about this new and exciting project?

Now that I know some of the questions, I can search for the answers!
What’s your project that is “unknown” to you?

If you’re a senior

  • Which colleges are the best fit for you?  Where will you apply?
  • Which of the questions will you address for your Common Application essay?
  • What are your worries?

If you’re a junior

  • What do you need to learn about the college search process?
  • What are your questions and concerns?
  • Who can support you during your search?

Taking the time to think through and map your ideas will help you explore the possibilities and may indicate the path for planning your way out of what is unknown to you!


If you have been accepted at your first choice college->congratulations!  Be sure to stay on track, so that you are prepared for the years ahead.

If, on the other hand, the envelope that arrives in the mail today says… “We won’t be able to offer you a place in the the class of 2014…” it’s likely that you will feel

  • hurt
  • upset
  • uncertain about yourself and your future.

While I can’t take away the disappointment, I can offer a few thoughts.
It’s personal-yet not completely!
Yes, you haven’t been accepted to next year’s class at that one school.  It is impossible to determine with certainty why you were rejected, so be careful not to pick apart your effort. Remember, the admissions personnel have multiple requirements when assembling a student body, they need to: create a diverse class, be aware of the balance among the different degree programs, and mindful of the extracurricular interests.  Every year they work to juggle these factors in light of the applicant pool.

Give yourself just a little time to feel the pain, then get into action!

  1. Take a critical look at the list of colleges that you originally compiled-the likelies, possibles, and reaches.
  2. Find a sounding board to review your choices-a parent, your guidance counselor, a coach (send me an email, I would be happy to talk with you).  You may want to revise your list.
  3. Develop a calendar for accomplishing all necessary requirements for each school before the deadlines.  There’s still plenty of time to apply to schools.  Remember your common application is already done… you will need to submit test scores, letters of recommendation, and any additional essays,  You can do it!

Take good care of yourself during this stressful time
Eat and sleep well, get your work done (so you feel that sense of accomplishment), and be sure to spend some time with folks who know and love you.

And so,the thought of the day is, perspective.
This was one letter.  Apply to half a dozen carefully selected schools, and you will increase the possibility of positive outcomes!


Here are some questions for the season:  How are you doing?
No, really, how ARE you doing?  Are you feeling that you have your applications/essays/interviews in good order?  Or, are you worried that the whole college selection process it HUGE and not really under your control at the moment?
Are you on track with your responsibilities as a senior (papers, exams, projects, commitments)?
If you’re a junior, have you started reviewing websites, talking with family and friends, visiting colleges,?
Yea! -> if you’re feeling copacetic (fine; completely satisfactory)
How can I be helpful? -> if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

I hope that the Thanksgiving break had a roborant* effect -gosh, I just love that word of the day!-because you need your strength for the tasks ahead.  Several days off, having a good time with family and friends can provide just the mental break you need to get back to the college selection process with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

If you would like some validation for the work you have done to date, or you need a little encouragement, I’d like to share a dozen ideas with you; they are relevant to those seniors among you who are still working away at applications, planning for interviews, completing scholarship/loan/financial aid paperwork… and to those juniors who are starting the process.

Top 12 Ways to be Simply the Best College Candidate

Send me an email or give me a call if I can help you on your journey to finding the colleges that are the right fit for you.

* Word of the Day for Thursday, December 3, 2009
roborant \ROB-uh-ruhnt\, adjective:
1. Strengthening; restoring vigor.
1. A strengthening medicine; a tonic; a restorative.

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