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!




and great bonuses!


Here’s what folks are saying about my visual coaching approach to the college search and selection process!


“Making the Grade” is something really special… While many college counselors help students narrow choices and write application essays, Jill opens the door for a path of discovery that helps the student find the colleges with the overall best fit, not just to a chosen major but to the whole student. “Making the Grade” should be part of every high school junior’s registration packet!”


Jane Massengill, LCSW, MCC

Psychotherapist—Life Coach

Director, The Gremlin-Taming Institute


“Making the GRADE is such a practical, efficient and fun way to help you (or the college bound grad in your life) make an informed decision on the school search process.  Born from Jill’s personal and professional experience as a parent and an educator it’s a thorough, self-paced visual system that produces a solid result—you in the school that is a uniquely right fit!  A wonderful application of the visual thinking genre, I’m pleased to whole-heartedly recommend Making the GRADE and am including Jill’s progressive work in my overview book on the Visual Coaching field. May your excellent college experience launch you into the life of your dreams, go for it!”


Christina Merkley

The SHIFT-IT Coach & Interactive-Visuals Mentor

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


“As a mother of four going through the college search from student self-assessment to researching colleges, finances and finally the decision, Jill Greenbaum has nailed it in her easy to read and follow style. Thanks Jill for the great questionnaires and charts. They really keep the information at hand and easy to compare.”  


Patti Thor

Author, Secrets to Raising Amazing Kids Without Being a Perfect Parent



Scene: College Fair at William Paterson College, Wayne, NJ

Me/Alumni Representative for Clark University, standing at my table: Hi!

Parent: (Picking up a booklet and looking through it.) I would love to go back to college!

Me: So would I! That’s what I kept thinking, and saying, as my daughter went through her college search!

Parent: But I would do it completely differently this time.

Me: I’d do it EXACTLY the same way!

And I think that says it all! So many parents and young adults talk with me about their college search and selection process, and how they

  • felt unprepared and overwhelmed
  • didn’t really understand all the steps on the path to college
  • would like to have really engaged in and enjoyed the process.

I know it can be different!

If you’re a teen, check out the resources that exist both in and out of school. If you’re a parent, support your teen by learning about the entire selection process. I have developed resources—for both teens and parents—based on years of working with teens and their families. Here’s my latest, www.majorinyou.com/e-book/


Mmmm, I’m of two minds about going to college fairs—and I say that knowing full well that I am going to a college fair tonight! I’ll be representing Clark University at William Paterson College, in Passaic County, NJ.

Reasons to skip the college fair
If you’re…

  • already feeling overwhelmed with possibilities… these events, often with many (in some cases hundreds of) colleges present, may be stressful
  • anxious about getting a school assignment done for tomorrow or later in the week… there will be other opportunities to learn information about colleges.

Reasons to go

You can…

  • pick up materials and  talk with representatives from the colleges that interest you
  • look closely at the values represented by the print materials and the staff and/or alumni
  • start to imagine life at college

Exploring the Colleges, Leaving a Great Impression, and Enjoying Yourself
1. Know what you want to achieve
~ What are you looking for, what do you need and want to learn about the different colleges?
2. Work out with your parent(s) in advance how you will enjoy the fair
~ Will you go on your own? With a parent(s)?
3. Speak for yourself
~ Introduce yourself, shake hands
4. Make a connection with the representative
~Have a conversation
5. Have your questions ready

Ask questions that indicate you want to learn about the school and students. Here are some ideas… My top ten questions.

  1. Did you go to (the college)?
  2. What did you major in?
  3. What made (the college) special for you?
  4. What is the college known for (for example, traditions, or the nature of student body, the political and social climate)?
  5. What are the emphases of the admissions process?
  6. What’s the typical class size?
  7. Do students talk with professors outside of class—beyond office hours?
  8. Do students talk about what they are learning outside of classes?
  9. Are any special services offered for support of all students (tutoring or a writing center)?
  10. What percentage of students graduate in 4 years?

What are your Top Ten Questions? Be sure to go prepared with your questions—and get them answered!


  • Avoid questions that indicate that you haven’t done your homework about the college. Remember you might interview with these representatives at a later date, and you want to leave a good impression.

6  Request materials from the representative only if you are interested in that college. (Save a tree or two.)

7. Take notes after each conversation, as there are hundreds of schools at these events, and it’s easy to forget information or get confused afterward).

You can read even more on my post, We’re off to see the wizard…Going to College Fairs


I sat down to write… and words seemed too boring… so here are my thoughts in pictures and words.





In case you prefer words…

It’s September

  • How are you feeling?
  • What your vision of where you want to be at college?
  • Where are you on your path to finding the right college?
  • What do you know about the college search?
  • What do you have yet to learn? Where do you begin? Do you know the entire process—it’s more than completing paperwork…
  • Who will help you with your search?
  • What are your next steps?

Here are some resources for you

  1. A short video about starting your search for the best colleges for you
  2. A survey from my new ebook, Making the GRADE, to help you stay focused, Where are you in your search?
  3. And, check my Facebook page tomorrow for news about my ebook!


What do you think about that quote?  I believe it!

Think about your college search for a moment…

  • What do you see as the path and the steps?
  • Who is influencing the scope of your vision? The guidance department, your parents, your friends?
  • What are the implications of not discovering the entire landscape of the process?


I’ll tell you the consequences of a view with blinders… The potential to make a BIG mistake!  When you don’t know the pieces to the puzzle it’s difficult to complete it with confidence. And, if you’re thinking that guidance counselors or college advisors have the time to share the scope of the college search and the many steps on the path-think again! In most schools those supporting you in your search are focused on the completion of paperwork—which is important yet secondary to understanding yourself and finding the colleges that are the right fit.


Make sure that you’re seeing all the steps on the path.  My new ebook, Making the GRADE: Discovering the Colleges That Are the Right Fit for You! launches September 17th.

Watch my short video about what you need to know about how to best work with your guidance counselor/college advisor,


I hope you will let me know what you think!



Just read the tweet from Clark U. It’s the first day of classes!  It brings me back… such great memories!

If you’re a high school senior—whether you’re back at school already or begin next week—there are three questions to answer today:

  1. Where are you in your college search?
  2. Do you know all the steps on the path—not just the paperwork that needs to be completed?
  3. What’s your plan, your timeline, and your next steps?

If you need help with answering any of these questions, contact me for me a free Strategy Session* here. I can help you make the college search faster and easier.

* My complementary Strategy Session helps you get crystal clear about where you are and where you need to go in your college search. We recognize what you have accomplished and uncover hidden challenges. You will leave the session energized and inspired to follow the path to the colleges that are the best fit for you.


Musings on Parenthood…

This morning I wrote to my daughter about how really wonderful it is that she is finding her way in the exciting, and yet messy, world of work.  Then, I was struck by the thought that it was a “mom” kind of thing to say—and I believe that while there is some of that left in our relationship, we have more conversations as equals/peers/colleagues these days… and I reflected on the times that she has been respectful of the work/volunteering/learning that I do, and I felt content.  We have reached a new place in our relationship…


It’s a countdown to the new school year! In some areas of the country, students are already back at school, and almost everyone begins in the next two weeks.  Seniors are wondering about the college search… I’ve heard the questions:

  • What are all the parts of this process?
  • Where will I find the time to do…
    • my school work
    • extracurriculars
    • think about, and maybe take more, standardized tests
    • start and finish the applications-including writing the essays
    • get my letters of recommendation
    • visit colleges and do interviews
    • … and have a social life?
  • Who can I turn to for information and support?


Here’s a few tips and techniques for getting those tasks done-and making sure you have fun!

  1. Learn and truly understand all of the steps on this great adventure.  Here’s a picture to help you see it all!
  2. Get clear on where you are on your journey.  I have created a survey for teens in my new ebook, Making the GRADE:  Discovering the Colleges That Are the RIght Fit for You!  Take the survey and then create a plan for what’s got to get done!  *
  3. Think about some cool concepts.  I just read about them today in Yaro Starak’s blog


A Sprint is a term common in the development world were you focus on one core task or objective which you can complete in a short period of time. You essentially “sprint” to the outcome, disregarding everything else.


There is another term that goes hand-in-hand with the Sprint concept known as an “Epic“. An Epic is also an objective, but it’s too big to be done in a sprint time frame. It requires more time and resources to get it done, hence it is a more “epic” undertaking.”  (Source: Yaro’s blog)

Your college search is epic (nothing like a play on words!), and there are many sprints along the way.  I think they are awesome concepts… and they fit right in with my “college search as a marathon” theme.

What do you think?

I believe you need to know all the steps of this epic journey, and if you create sprints for yourself-work you can get done in a week (or some other short, definite timeframe)- you will feel more in control of the process.  I’d love to hear how you’re doing-shoot me an email, jill@majorinyou.com


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