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


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…



Though it’s January and college seems far away, now is the time reflect on your abilities to manage all the aspects of your future life on campus. Take a moment to think about your life right now:

What are you fully capable of doing?

What areas can you grow into before stepping onto campus?

The list of possibilities is LONG!

  • Manage all the time in your day (classes may be 12-16 hours a week, readings/assignments might be another 50 hours a week… there’s still LOTS of time!)
  • Get up and out the door on time
  • Be prepared for classes/Complete assignments on time
  • Travel with friends or on your own—to see friends on other campuses or explore nearby towns, cities, ski slopes, or beaches
  • Make sure you’re doing everything from eating right to getting enough sleep to doing laundry to understanding your finances to mindfully choosing friends, relationships, and socializing options…


Once you realize what you already know how to do and what you have yet to learn, make the time between now and August to get comfortable with new and different tasks and responsibilities. Take charge of your schedule, your responsibilities (making some meals, spending money and using credit or debit cards, getting around to new and different places). Start the conversation with your parents about how you can make a smooth transition from life at home to life at college.


Just two nights ago I spoke to parents at a PTA meeting in Montrose, NY. We spent some time, and had a serious conversation, about how parents can shift into being supportive of their teens stepping into adulthood.  Teens stepping up and parents stepping back. It’s critically important for everyone involved.


While this article on www.Edutopia.org begins the conversation, there’s more to be considered and discussed. Check out more of my ideas College Eligible vs. College Ready


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! 


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.




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


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…


Here’s a resource to share with your parents!

In the flurry of writing about making the choice about which college to attend, I forgot to attach a short article I wrote and distributed to parents at one of the workshops I presented last Saturday at Clark University’s Admitted Student Open House day.

You can click and share 🙂  Make the best choice


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