A disaster plan for a hurricane is to safety as a path for the college search is to …? 

disaster plan for a hurricane:safety

path for college search:finding the colleges that are the right fit for you

This morning as I was walking the beloved dog, I mused on the need to be better prepared for the impending hurricane. To be sure, I had thought about, talked about, and even gathered some important items—just in case the electricity, heat, or heaven forbid, cell service didn’t work.

It was during my early morning walk that I realized I might not actually be as ready for the big event as I hoped… It then struck me that preparing for a hurricane is a lot like preparing for the college search and selection process… See what you think!

Yesterday, I…

  • knew it was coming and so started thinking about it
  • talked with family and friends about getting prepared
  • gathered items in the house (flashlights, matches) and shopped for more essentials
  • filled my gas tank
  • put away anything outside that could fly around in high winds
  • felt pretty confident that I knew enough of what to do

Today, I was faced with increased winds and rain and I began to realize that I might not have thought this through, so I

  • got online and found a trusted resource
  • read and thought about really basic things I had not done, such as
    • put together a comprehensive emergency supply list (yes, I forgot important family documents, first aid book, sleeping bag, change of clothing, plates, cups, plastic utensils, paper, pens, books, games…)
  • assembled a basic emergency supply kit
  • gathered enough water for each of us (a gallon a day)
  • we got the dog’s info together (in case we needed to go to a shelter)

and, the list goes on…

I am guessing that when thinking about the college search you

  • know it’s coming and so have started thinking about it
  • talk with family and friends about getting prepared to find the colleges that are the best matches
  • feel pretty confident that you know enough of what to do

Then, when it’s time to really get down to the work of discovering the colleges that are the right fit, you begin to realize that you

  • are not really sure of all the steps in the process
  • believed that completing the applications, writing the essays, and stepping onto a campus or two might be sufficient, but now you are having doubts
  • probably shouldn’t be listening to just the guidance counselor, your family members and/or your best friend/girlfriend/boyfriend
  • realize that you need to search for more information, resources, and experts

So, in reality, you need to dig into the process, do the play/work of talking with your parents about finances and college tuition, discover colleges that are matches for your interests, strengths, needs and challenges, visit campuses, do interviews, and make the big decisions in consultation with your parents… This is your opportunity to step into your future—you need to be prepared.


PS: Written just before we lost power and internet


How are you making decisions about which colleges might be the right fit for you? It’s my fervent hope that this IS NOT the path you’re following…

The Mad Libs Approach to the College Search

You are choosing colleges to consider based primarily on (name a person)’s experiences or opinions (i.e., your parents, relatives, friends, guidance counselor, boy/girlfriend).

The glossy brochures and awesome website from (name a school) have caught your eye, and appearance is everything.

The tour guide at (name a college) was so cool that you know you want to go to that college.

The look and feel of the campus at (name a university) is just what you dreamed college would be like so you know the departments, classes, professors, and students will be a good match, too.

You are (name a specialty—an athlete, an artist, a thespian) and you love the (coach, team, department) and it’s the only reason that really matters to go to that school.

Your high school is (small, medium, large) and so you want your college experience to be (choose one: completely different or exactly the same).

You are (chose one: really close to your family or can’t wait to leave home) and so (chose one: you want to stay near home or get as far away as possible).

Being able to (chose the appropriate situations: bring a car to campus, ski/surf on weekends, travel to a big city nearby) is critical to your happiness and so you are going to look only at (name those schools) to enable you to be happy about that one aspect of your life.

The antidote to these crazy ways to selecting colleges
Make the time to explore all the possibilities before closing off any. Think through your

  • passions
  • interests
  • strengths
  • academic and social needs
  • finances
  • proximity to home
  • dreams of what you want college to be for you
  • hopes about what you want your life beyond college to be.

Make the time/space in your busy schedule to devote a few hours to getting clear about who you are and your ideas about who you want to become, then move forward with researching colleges that are the best matches for you.

“To make your dreams come true you have to wake up.”

Paul Valery

Be sure that you are approaching your college search with eyes wide open.


Last night I had a GREAT conversation with Glen Keene, on his show,  Spotlight on Success. We dug deeply into the details of what college coaching is about, at least from my perspective! Go here to see the show and learn the path that students follow to the college search done more effectively and in record time!



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