I just spent the first 10 minutes of my day planning to have fun… because I had to make sure it got done!

Yesterday* was full of promise! I had big plans to clean up my studio while watching a DVD, find a jewelry project I wanted to start, start a quilt, and take pictures of some recent craft work. In fact, I started by checking my email, getting caught up in interesting future projects, and then a friend called out of the blue… Over an hour later I had really connected with my friend, and had even worked on a craft project while I was on the phone, but my plans for the day were going sideways… And so, while I recovered some of my plans/fun, by watching the DVD/cleaning up and finding my long lost jewelry project, I never got to the quilt—well, that’s not exactly true. I took out the main pieces, looked at the clock, and decided I couldn’t start so late in the day. There’s a lesson in this story. And so this morning, I decided to sit down and plan my fun!

In reality, I’m really adept at making sure I have fun, but I realized yesterday that it’s so easy to get knocked off schedule and begin to lose control… Of my day!

So here are my big picture plans for fun projects this year…


I think that sometimes I don’t get to all my plans because I have so many of them! I’m going to test that theory by planning my fun for the next month. Does that sound like drudgery to you? It actually sounds exciting to me! I know that if I brainstorm everything I want to do, create a plan/schedule there is a much better chance I will get it all done. It also gives me something to look forward to—completing projects and beginning new ones.


I appreciate the irony of sharing all this, when my most recent post written for www.teenlife.com (to post this week) was all about having fun everyday through creating a list and a plan for enjoying 10 Delicious Daily Habits—not to mention Plan Your Fun! which I created when my daughter was in high school, feeling that the burdens of school and the college admissions process were overwhelming. In reality, I get to my Delicious Daily Habits because I have made them a habit. My (short-term) projects are different, they’re not ingrained in my daily life. Now I realize that I need to make that so!

What’s your takeaway from this meandering tale? Do you find that big plans often get blown off course by unexpected events? When I have a long term project—for fun or for work—sometimes it feels like I can miss a day, because it will take so much time to complete, and that’s okay. The answer is, sometimes it is and other times it’s not okay. It’s fine to take a day off from a project if it’s a mindful choice and the deadline permits. In reality though, projects and tasks begin to drag on when I become caught up in what pops into my life, without wresting control of my schedule.

So, a word of caution, whether it’s planning for fun or planning for college, be sure to make the time to develop a timeline… and actively decide how you will spend your precious time every day! 

*This piece was written Monday/yesterday morning.


I have to say that I was really disturbed by my brief conversation yesterday morning. I am so happy to report that I had a GREAT exchange with another guidance counselor just a few minutes later! The phone rings…


Me: Thank you so much for calling me back! I wanted to follow-up on my email from earlier this month, about my services to parents and teens—workshops and coaching.

Ms. ______: Oh! We have someone come in from ______ College and they talk about admissions to both teens and parents.

Me: Oh! Well, I really focus on parents and how they can support their teens during the college search, and I talk with them about their changing roles in the lives of their teens. I talk to teens also, and offer coaching to teens and families where there may be special needs or the need for more support services. May I send you the more detailed description of my series of workshops for parents?

Ms. _______: Well, how does this work, is it complementary? And, what do you expect to gain from it? What is your background?

Me: Yes, my workshops are free for parents. I bring articles that I have written and other resources. Parents can just come to the workshop and listen, they can take home resources, and they can contact me if they want to have further conversations about what I have to offer. My background is in special education—I was a teacher, principal and administrator, I have a doctorate in curriculum development, and my daughter is a college graduate. I started this work over seven years ago when my daughter went through the college admissions process and, while she went to a very good school, she didn’t feel that she knew all the pieces of this puzzle. I am also a member of Clark University’s Alumni and Parent Admissions Program.

Ms. ______: Oh! We want to be sure that people talking to our families know what is happening out there and have current information, as we can’t get out as much as we would like. We spend a lot of time talking with the college reps to learn what they want these days.

Me: Well, do you know www.unigo.com? It’s a site where students write about their experiences at college, and they’re on campus now.

Ms. ______: Oh yes, it’s like the Fiske Guide but written by students.

Me: Yes, it’s a student’s guide to colleges. Well, I am on their expert panel.

Ms. ______: Oh!

Me: I’ll be happy to send you the descriptions of my workshops later this morning. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ms. ______: I will have to talk with my counterpart at _________. I will be in touch!

Me: Thanks!


Woo Hoo! A guidance counselor who understands that students and parents need information and options around the services that support them during the great adventure of the college admissions process.




Okay, maybe that title is a little too broad… Here’s one guidance counselor’s response to my offer of complementary services to students and their parents:



Earlier this morning:

Me: Hi! My name is Jill Greenbaum and I am following up on the email that I wrote to you earlier in the month. I offer coaching to teens in the college search process and presentations to parents about their roles in the lives or their teens. I was wondering if my services might be of use to families in _________.

Mr. (shall remain nameless): We actually find that rather insulting. We think we do a pretty good job here.

Me: Do you have students with special needs? Or parents with concerns?

Mr. __________ We have that covered.

Me: Oh! My work is not meant to be insulting, it complements that of guidance counselors. Thank you for your time.


Wow, wow, wow!


  • The ratio of students to guidance counselors in the US 476:11
  • One in five students delayed going to college due to inadequate counseling2
  • In 2009, 120,00 high school seniors hired educational consultants3
  • 48% of students felt they were “a face in the crowd” to guidance counselors2
  • 38 minutes is the total average amount of time a guidance counselor spends per student discussing college admissions1

There are plenty more statistics… they are mostly disheartening.

 1 American School Counselor’s Association

2 Public Agenda 2010 Survey of Effectiveness of High School Guidance Counselors

3 Rheault


Happily, there’s good news to follow in Part 2! 


Current Dilemma in My Coaching Practice

One student in coaching with me appears to be stuck, at a loss, finding it very difficult to move forward and complete the tasks necessary to finish the applications for the admissions process.


Time is growing short to submit applications for September admission


  • Explore the resistance to getting the work done—what are the questions, concerns or fears—and develop ideas and techniques for handling the unspoken distress
  • Discuss and list the tasks to be completed and create deadlines and milestones
  • Check in/touch base about progress


No response to check in email


Offer different kind of support—more active partnership—until the student is ready to do the tasks more independently


No response to my offer for more support in my second email

While there may be activity around the tasks, I am concerned about activity and yet not productivity… 


I can relate, can you?

For me, today has been a day of organizing my thoughts around wellness, to share/write up/draw for my next ezine (tomorrow), creating a new description of my ebook for my store page, organizing my outreach to guidance counselors and administrators, contacting an editor about my book, updating video content, and planning for several new products. These are all important tasks yet I am stepping back to be reflective/gain self-awareness, to be sure that I am not mistaking activity for productivity. Do you ever have those days?

Perhaps it’s just a day full of handling the details that push many projects forward… just doesn’t feel as satisfying as big chunks of projects accomplished. Maybe I can reframe that and look at total number of tasks achieved… Mmmm, I’m liking it!

Check out the new intro on my video, Find the Right College with Jill’s New Ebook, And if you’re more of a fan of paperbacks (than ebooks), you can find my book here on Amazon or here on Barnes & Noble’s site.


or, Smart Teens are Thinking Ahead and Prompting Their Parents to Think about the Future

I’m noticing a shift my practice… My clients are becoming high school juniors, not under-the-crushing-deadline-of-admissions seniors. This is great news! In my work, I am all about learning the path to finding the right college so that the process is focused and streamlined, with no floundering about on the part of teens or their parents.

In the past I have worked with seniors to complete their search in less than 60 days. Now I am starting with families earlier, affording them the time to ease into the process, feel more comfortable with all the pieces to the puzzle and the decision points along the way—which requires a lot of sifting and sorting, researching, and analyzing. And, if there are any special circumstances, from

  • a desire to continue with a sports team, specialized study in theatre or the art to
  • special learning academic needs, or
  • the need to secure substantial financial aid

starting within the month is the smartest plan.

Give yourself the gift of time. Begin thinking and talking about the search now, shift into action in the new year and you will have the luxury of time to understand and enjoy the adventure of what the future holds.


NEWSFLASH: How to Major in You and Find the Right College in now available on Barnes & Noble site, here,

Insider info: My book is even more affordable on www.createspace.com, here, with this discount code, KXUZUQSN.




I love making the time to think about what’s important to me!

Honestly though, crafting all my (divergent) thoughts into a coherent piece to share with others is really challenging. The process makes me appreciate the process that my “coachees” endure when I suggest the fourth or fifth revision of their essays for college applications.

Just the other week I completed a teleclass in writing a manifesto. I want teens and their parents to truly understand the foundation for my coaching approach, program and resources for families. True to form, I wrote down ideas, envisioned how it would come together as a picture (!) and then used words and a drawing for the first draft (below)… I am refining it still.

My Manifesto


All the time devoted to thinking about what’s important to me led me to add to my ideas about how parents’ and teens’ roles change over time—a topic near and dear to my heart. With the opportunity to write for Inner Peace Parenting, an emag, I developed my mission statement as a parent. I hope you will read it, My Parent Mission Statement and then consider looking at Inner Peace Parenting’s current edition which contains so many terrific articles by friends and colleagues.

May I suggest that you make the time to engage in reflection about what’s important to you and how you endeavor to live those values and beliefs every day. Please write to me with your reflections about the process, your mission statement or manifesto—I’m collecting them!


And, check out these great examples of manifestos:


The You Matter Manifesto by Angela Maiers, http://www.angelamaiers.com/2012/01/the-you-matter-manifesto.html

The RightBrain Terrain Manifesto, http://rightbrainterrain.com/Manifesto.htm

The Create Manifesto, http://www.pinkparadigm.com/MarcysManifesto.htm

Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams, http://www.squidoo.com/stop-stealing-dreams








Yippee! One of my favorite topics is on the front pages… okay, the front pages of Education Week, yet the front pages nonetheless!

I am passionate about helping teens and families ensure that young adults heading off to college are fully prepared to be there—academically, emotionally, and socially. Teens need to be college-ready not just college eligible. I write about it, talk about it with teens and parents—and now the conversation is happening at a national level! This critical conversation has implications for you.

This article,  Testing Consortium Crafts College-Readiness Definition – Curriculum Matters – Education Week (do not be scared off by the title) highlights the current thinking about the knowledge and skills student need to have at various levels in their school life.  While you don’t need to know the details now… The “takeaway” from all of this is…You/Teens and their families need to have an eye toward the future! Life at college is mulitfaceted, and having the skills to navigate the:

  • academic workload—classes, studying, tests, papers, projects, internships, etc.
  • social life—rooomate(s), free time, parties, interpersonal and romantic/sexual relationships, refusal skills re: drugs and alcohol, etc.
  • daily living realities—eating well and sleeping enough, money management, laundry, etc.

are foundational to success on campus.

Learn more here… Here are two resources: My short video about becoming college ready and one of the many articles I share with audiences at schools, conferences, and parent workshops.

How to Pick the Right College|Prepare Your Teen to be College Ready

College eligible v. ready


I’m just back from six FANTASTIC sessions at Igniting Innovations, the 2012 National Fall Leadership Conference for PBL and FLBA, where I presented to over 600 young adults—talking about what matters most to them—preparing for their futures.

It was so exciting to share information, pose questions, listen to their thinking, address their concerns, and see planning for next steps take place before my eyes.  Major in You: How to Find the Colleges That Are the Right Fit! was my favorite session because it gave me the most opportunity to hear from students about their real life experiences in the search—and to point to a path which would guide and support them.

After the session, two teens approached me for a brief conversation. They were both seniors and said, “We don’t know what to do with our lives.” While there was not enough time to get into a deep conversation, I handed them my card and told them to call me. A complimentary Strategy Session seemed the right place to begin with them… We’ll discover what they have accomplished and dig into different avenues for exploring where their interests, passions, and strengths lie. The paths to their futures will flow from their introspection and, perhaps, some research into new and different areas.

In the weeks ahead I will share the results from my College Search Survey—the teens’ thoughts, feelings, and questions about the labyrinthian process.

Here’s the survey, just in case you want to take it, scan it, and send it back to me. I’d be happy to answer your questions.

College Survey



Gosh, I wish I were you! You are so lucky you are to be in the midst of your college search—really!

I spent a good chunk of time yesterday checking out colleges and universities—looking at the big guides, going online, taking trips down memory lane to reflect on where I’ve visited and my impressions of the campuses and students. As I immersed myself in thinking about the opportunities that accompany going to college, I muttered under my breath, “I would go back to college in a heartbeat.”

My college search and my years in college and graduate school are still so vivid to me… they were great times. Such fun, interesting and engaging experiences have made me into a lifelong learner… I am always taking some kind of course or another, learning a new skill. I want you to know, it wasn’t always like that…

I was an exchange student in high school, living for half a year in France with a family and attending school. That was a fabulous experience! When I returned home I was really unhappy with being back at high school and realized that I desperately wanted to graduate early. With the support of my parents I was able to leave half way through my senior year and complete my credits at The New School for Social Research in NYC—and I took classes at Parsons School of Design. Now that was a great way to finish my senior year!

The story of my discontent creates a context. I always loved learning, but I hated feeling bored and being disengaged. I thrive when I am learning new information and skills that are relevant to who I am and who I want to become.

How about you? What do you want? What types of majors, minors, professors, students, opportunities for internships, study abroad and community service will challenge you to do your best work, and become the environment in which you will thrive? The college search is all about discovering more about yourself and then using that information to suss out the environments in which you will thrive. It is about the destination and the journey.


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

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