As we enjoy the end of summer, our thinking slowly shifts to the new school year. Are you thinking about and noticing some changes in your daughter’s or son’s life? Have you paused just a bit to reflect on

  • how you are meeting the needs, wants, and desires of your child(ren)
  • how you are living your life as a parent every day
  • how you are growing 
  • your guiding principles or beliefs, values in action?

We can support our kids’ development by tuning in to our own changing roles as parents. 

Would you like some help in thinking through these questions? Would having a path for formulating and keeping in touch with your ever-evolving ideas about parenting support you in this fun, patience-testing, exhilarating, tiring, heart-warming adventure of parenting? If so, I hope you will download my book, Your Best Self~Best Parent Manifesto, here and start the process today!



Please share your thoughts with me—on FB at Major In You or by email!


So what do you know about how college rankings are developed? It’s one of my favorite subjects to discuss, as I find parents and students are unaware of the methods and the politics behind the ranking of fewer than half the colleges and universities in America. My suggestion? A bit of research—and that would be true regarding any source of information—from college rankings to college guides, to college marketing materials, to admissions consulting, advising or coaching services.

Take a look at:
Frank Bruni’s NY Times article, Why College Admissions Are a Joke (9.18.16) and then the Letter to the Editor from Brian Kelly, Editor and Chief Content Officer at U.S. News & World Report (9.22.16).

For more in depth information, read The Gate Keepers, by Jacques Sternberg.

And, a favorite of mine, for those looking for hidden gems is, Colleges That Change Lives, www.ctcl.org. There’s great information on the site and in the book.

Choosing the right campuses—because students will consider, and most likely apply to over half a dozen colleges and universities—is a task of enormous proportions. There’s a lot of great information to be discovered and assessed.


Yesterday I saw The Beatles, and the memories of that time in my life flooded back to me. While I was in second grade when John, Paul, George and Ringo appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, I grew up with them…

What are your memories of high school? What was the college admission process like for you—or did you go straight to work? What are the thoughts and feelings you have around that time—of yourself, your friends, your classes/education, your parents, and how you entered and completed the college search and selection process? Are you aware of the influence those memories may be having on your teen’s experience—or how you are interacting with your teen? It’s one of the first—of the zillion—questions to be asking yourself.

If you’re the parent of a junior—fantastic! You have an early start on the process. If you’re the parent of a senior—well, it’s not too late, but there is some serious catching up to do.

Here’s a recent interview with Bianca and Phillip, of Let’s Talk! We had a wide-ranging, information packed conversation which posted on September 8th. (Search for that date.)

Before listening, think of what’s important to you and your teen right now and in the coming months. If you don’t hear an answer or if you want to learn more, contact me to set up a complimentary Strategy Session.


As the beginning of the school year approaches, have you made the time to reflect on your summer?

Think back to the end of the school year and your plans for the summer months…

  • What were your plans?

Did you travel, work, go to camp, take a MOOC, read some books, take classes… or any one of a zillion          things? What have you achieved—both planned and unplanned?

  • Did you achieve most of what you set out to do?

Did you do even more? Or, did you do less because that felt right to you? (More is not always better.)

  • What has been the impact—both short and long term—of your experiences this summer?

Do you think and feel differently than at the beginning of the summer? What are some of the lessons you have learned? How will they influence how you go back to school?

Whether you are a junior, with plenty of time to begin your college search, or a senior who needs to gear up and maintain momentum, now is the time to make your plans for the school year.

Here’s a mindmap I created of “A Year in the Life” of a teen preparing for college. While it starts in January, if you’re a junior, check it out and begin to plan now… If you’re a senior, check in and discover what you have accomplished and what’s on the horizon for you. These are exciting times! If you feel anxious, confused or overwhelmed, there’s lots of help available. Shoot me an email and I can point you in the direction of resources.

A year in the life


This was a summer oozing with new opportunities for me—how was it for you? Are you going back to school with new knowledge/information/ideas about yourself, other people, new areas of interest, maybe even new skills? I know that I am brimming over with new experiences:

  • Training international audiences at a conference in Berlin—sharing my passions and expertise, and learning from the folks in my sessions
  • Reading about—and trying—new ways to be a leader
  • Discovering and applying Appreciative Inquiry to make my coaching and training practices even more rich for my clients, audiences, and for me.

IFVP bio pic 1 web

What did you do this summer that was a step outside your comfort zone, novel, different, exciting, or challenging? In what areas did you succeed? What are you still learning? What failures did you have while you were learning? Because if we don’t make mistakes or fail a few times, are we really pushing ourselves to do our best work?

It’s not necessary to travel far to make discoveries. While my trips in France and Germany were exciting as I saw old friends, made new ones and learned new ideas, practices, and skills—I did some of my most meaningful learning sitting on my couch reading, with my dog resting by my side.

This summer, I made sure to live one of my favorite quotes, by Marcel Proust.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

I have “new eyes” in so many aspects of my life as a result of seeing/thinking/living differently—no matter where I was… What about you?


The sun is beating down, I’m talking all the time with students and parents about senior year schedules, lists of colleges, essays, and more… and I think back to a conversation on a cold day this winter at Clark University. I was delivering a workshop for parents about their changing roles in the lives of their teens, and a man (who looked familiar) asked if I had any information about what to be doing when on this long and winding journey. I was happy to tell him that I had created a timeline/mindmap for teens… yet had to admit I had never done the same for parents. This man—who turned out to be a neighbor of mine from back in the day, it’s a small world we live in—said that such a resource would be helpful.

Today I started to create this tool! I’ve talked with parents for years about their questions and concerns, yet I want to check in again. WiIl you help? If you are a teen or parent in the throes of the college admissions process, or just finished it, would you share your thoughts about…

  • what you would like to know/like to have known
  • what questions you have/had
  • what insights do you have about the your role in this process.

Here’s the mindmap I created for teens.

A year in the life…

It highlights the tasks to be accomplished and the timing for each. The framework that I use for my coaching program, Making the Grade, is crafted around the pieces of this puzzle and makes sense of this big, unwieldy process.

This afternoon I started re-conceptualizing this process and will be creating new maps—for both teens and parents. I hope that you will help me by providing me with your ideas! Teens and parents, please contact me here. I can’t wait to hear from you!


What is of value to you? This question was put front and center for me on Monday when Clark University was named one of the top 25 service-oriented schools for return on investment, http://bit.ly/TJmjuM 

 I have to say, I retweeted that post because I received huge value from my years there. I can tie almost everything I have ever done professionally—and that spans three distinctly different areas, i.e., teaching/administration in public schools, instructional design and training, and working with families to navigate the college admissions process—to my education at Clark University.  And, my personal life was deeply affected by my years in Worcester—pointing me in a new direction for my volunteerism and sowing the seeds for all the volunteer work I do today. The return on my parents’ investment was HUGE—from both education/professional and personal perspectives.


clark building stylized


What did you think when you heard about this story? I have to say that I was initially skeptical. I hear from so many students about names and reputations of colleges but not how they are the right matches for the students talking with me… because those students have not yet done the work necessary to make the most thoughtful decisions.

So I read about Kwasi Enin with great interest and discovered that he was very thoughtful about the process. He realizes that the environments of these eight schools are very different and he is searching for the one among them that will enable him to to do his very best work.

“… Enin said he decided to seek admission to all of them because each had different qualities. Each school has different admission criteria as each seeks the right mix for entering classes.” (LA Times, 4.1.14)

Think for a minute. Is it your impression that these schools







University of Pennsylvania


  • have the same core values
  • that all the departments are of equally superior quality (or that there’s variation depending on the size of the department, the age and/or tenure of professors, etc.)
  • offer the same types of opportunities, such as study abroad programs, internships, and/or opportunities for research
  • the students bodies are the same in terms of approach to the academic environment, diversity, social life, etc.
  • the physical environments are equally pleasing?

We can be certain that each school has its own unique character… and finding the best fit involves considering all these factors and more. My bet is that this young man is thinking about these variables and will weigh them along with the financial packages offered to him—he will make the decision with his eyes wide open, thinking first about himself.


Parents and teens need personally relevant, crystal clear, and complete information about the college admissions process. Over the past two years, I have discovered (to my shock and amazement) that very few schools, in particular the guidance counselors, are not open to having a speaker who focuses on the personal side of the transitions that are happening in families of juniors and seniors. For parents, that means help in figuring out their roles in this process and shifting into a new aspect of parenting. For teens, it means stepping into responsibility and becoming college ready, not just college eligible. Dozens of guidance counselors and principals in my tri-county area have told me, “We have that covered.” In general, what they have is:

  • a webpage with a packet of information full of dates for paperwork to be submitted
  • a few nights for parents to learn the steps for completing the paperwork
  • a speaker about financing college: scholarships and loans

There’s no doubt that the very personal aspects of the process, what really matters most in the decision-making process, are hot topics. I deliver workshops in a few high schools and on college campuses every year and parents love the opportunity to focus on themselves, ask their questions and hear the real life experiences of other parents. And students come to my sessions at conferences, literally by the hundreds, to be heard, to learn, and have their questions answered.

I am always interested in sharing my expertise and experience, so I offer workshops at local libraries, PTA meetings, through teleclasses, and at conferences. This Thursday, I will meet with parents at my local library to complete my three part series, For Parents Only. I hope that you will comment on this post or send me an email, jill@majorinyou.com, to tell me where you get the best information about the college admissions process—not just the paperwork or the latest poll that sends you and your teen into a tailspin about all that has to be accomplished. What are the sources of current, reliable, and realistic information? My guess is that you have the same question…



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.

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