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Early Start College Planning

Motivational Speaker; Life Balance

"Together we achieve more."TM



Welcome to the JC Global Consulting Blogs! There are two blogs here; Early Start College Planning and Life Balance and You.  Hopefully, as we move along, you will find food for thought, guidance and practical suggestions here for where you want to go in your life.  I look forward to your feedback!  

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Posted on March 20, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (48)


Spring break is coming!  Like you didn't know!  It's this week to a few weeks off for most all students across the U.S.  While this might be a time to go on a vacation just for fun, how about taking a vacation and making an investment in your future at the same time?  Whether you are in seventh grade or a senior in high school, part of this time could be spent visiting a college campus near where you are vacationing, or to make the purpose of your vacation an exploration of those schools that have admitted you for next Fall.  

It is important to get on a scheduled tour of a college, especially if you have been admitted.  A phone call to the Admissions Office or checking on-line for scheduling procedures can help with getting you a spot on a tour in advance of your visit. On tours like this, a student guide takes you around the campus, showing you highlights and discussing his/her experience as a student there.  If it turns out that your intended major is the same as that student's current major, you can ask him/her direct questions about the department and what it's like day to day to be in that major.  

If you are younger than a senior, consider the work you have done to date to identify your strengths, weaknesses, your interests, what "rings your bell" and how those items might be expressed on this particular college campus.  Do they have at least one major that really interests you?  Are you willing to go to the department office and ask to speak to a faculty member, department counselor or someone else who could give you more information?  Think of this experience as a scavenger hunt.  You are looking for information that would help you consider how appropriate this college might be for you as a future applicant.

Having the character trait of curiosity definitely helps on a college campus visit.  You want to know everything you can to decide if this is the place where you will spend at least four years of your life.  

To make this experience the most it can be, it helps to do some research at home before you commit to visiting a campus, but it's not manditory. Remember though, as you go through life you will make decisions increasingly on your own.  It's a very good idea to start early with habits that help you learn how to make good decisions, not just about where to go to college, but about anything in life.

Whether you stop in at a college near your vacation spot or schedule a tour in advance, you are setting yourself up for a successful college choice when the time comes to actually apply.  If you start early, in seventh or eighth grade, you will have literally years of viewing campuses and will make a much better decision when making applications, and will have had fun doing it!  A win-win!

As always, I would appreciate your thoughts and comments to this installment of Early Start College Planning.

All the best,


Outline from CAHM FORUM Talk

Posted on September 23, 2016 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello and thank you for visiting my website and this blog.


Please click on "More" on the page bar above, then click on "Contact" on the drop down menu and enter your name and email address.  I'll forward the outline to you from my talk at the CAHM Forum on September 24, 2016.  Also, if you didn't get the handout at the Forum, please let me know and I can forward that to you as well.


While you're on the site, check out the other pages.  Hopefully you will find something of value for yourself, or perhaps you know someone who would benefit from the information on this site.  Please feel free to share this site with those others.


Feel free to contact me if you would like to continue this conversation.  We can email, you can respond to this blog entry, you can call and I will make time to speak with you.


Thanks again for your attendance at the CAHM Forum and at my talk.  It is my great hope that you received more than you thought you would and that you have a new hope for the future.  

Best wishes,

John Cotter

Upcoming Speaking Event

Posted on August 16, 2016 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

How does Life Balance play out in the lives of those with a substance use disorder and/or mental health challenge?  It is so important to assess where you have been in your past and how your experiences have affected your life.  Mapping out a path for a more stable life takes teamwork and desire from all family members.  At the upcoming Community Alliance for Healthy Minds conference on September 24, 2016, I will give a very short talk about this topic and how maintaining hope is crucial in the lives of those challenged and their families.  If you are interested in attending this free event, you can register online at  Hover your mouse over "upcoming forum" and click on "register."  The event will be held at Cal State San Marcos, in San Marcos California.  I have attended this conference for the past three years and am honored to have a chance to speak there this year.  It is a one day wealth of information.  You can find out more about this organization by reviewing the different parts of their web site.  It will be worth your time.  

As always, I welcome your comments.

The best to you and yours,



Posted on April 10, 2016 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (90)

Know yourself?  Who can really know themselves?  Well, you can but it takes some work.  If you are willing to commit the time early in your college search years, you will make a better decision when it's time to apply to college.  If you are in seventh or eighth grade, this is the ideal time to begin to question yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, preferences of all sorts. If you're in high school, that's fine too, but you will have a bit less time to explore your strengths and interests before the college application process starts.  Using a notebook can be helpful in recording information about yourself.


Let's say you are interested in science and have always been curious about medicine.  Unfortunately in life, sometimes things happen in our lives that are life-changing, like a relative developing cancer and ultimately dying from it or some other disease.  For some, that's all the motivation they need to pursue a medical career. You talk with your family doctor about what it took to become a doctor.  As you get older, you have the opportunity to "shadow" your doctor for a day, to see what being a doctor is really like.  You begin to look at the types of courses students take to prepare for their college major and what sorts of majors most doctors pursued in college.  You talk with your school guidance counselor to see if he/she can direct you to any materials to help you learn more about becoming a doctor.  

Or let's say you have always been a person who can "draw anything."  You also like to paint.  So you create work that you frame and hang in your room or other parts of your family's home.  An art contest is advertised in a local newspaper and your parents encourage you to enter.  After the judging, you've won in your category!  With this affirmation, you begin to think of yourself as an artist, not just someone who likes to draw.  This causes you to begin to look at art classes you can take in school, think about taking private lessons, entering other contests, and beginning to learn how to create a portfolio of your work.  You look at the world differently.  Now the whole world is your canvas, and before you didn't notice all the things you are beginning to notice as possible subjects for your next art piece.  

When experiences like these happen in your life, you can take advantage of them more readily if you have assessed yourself over time and are "open" to these new experiences.  Connecting with others who share your passions is another way to develop yourself, learning from them and they from you.  So, is it worth the effort to get to know yourself? ABSOLUTELY!  Get going, your life will be what you make it.  No time to start like the present.  Have fun with this process.  You have a few years to discover yourself, change your mind and discover new things about yourself.  When you do apply to college or any other form of education beyond high school, you will be more likely to know what you want, to have done a good amount of exploring to find an educational situation that will fit your needs, and will have given yourself enough time to enjoy the process.


Until next time...


P.S.  I'm always interested in your comments, so let me know what you think.  If you have questions, that's even better!  Ask away.  I'm here for you. 

Life Balance in Today's World

Posted on February 26, 2016 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)



Welcome to the Life Balance and You blog! This is my first edition and I'm excited to share thoughts with you about this most important area. For any blog to be worth anything, it helps to have a community of people who read the blog and respond to its contents. I look forward to building a community of people looking to create Life Balance for themselves and are willing to share their strategies with others.


In this edition of my blog, I will focus on putting yourself first and then bringing family and close friends into the equation as you begin your quest for Life Balance.


What is Life Balance anyway? Life Balance is the space in which you feel your life is on track in terms of physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. We refer to this in many ways: "in the zone," "all in," "everything clicks," "hitting on all cylinders," and "hitting it out of the park," are ways I've heard people describe their lives when things are going well for them.




So what does this mean? It means those living in Balance are making decisions that are benefiting them in their lives and at the same time they are helping others do the same by their example. They live "intentionally" and their example is seen and appreciated by others. People who live in Balance know to take care of their own needs first. While this may sound selfish, think about it this way: If you are continually stressed out, you have a boss who is "on your back" all the time, money is a problem and your relationships are suffering as a result, you're obviously not in balance. You have nothing to give to others because you are so preoccupied with your own needs. Until you clear up the issues that you face in your life, Balance is not very achievable. But the key is making time for yourself. Work on yourself first.




As you look at your situation, if you can be honest, you begin to see issues that need improvement. This is the first and biggest step to working on achieving Balance because it shows you have insight into what needs to change. Instead of looking at the sum of your various issues, choose one to tackle first. Break things down for yourself into small improvements that you feel certain you can achieve. If it's possible, have a family meeting where you admit things have not been going well for you in your life and perhaps you have been taking it out on loved ones and straining your relationships. You'll be surprised how your honesty and straightforward presentation may open up your loved ones and barriers may begin to soften. Understanding breeds teamwork and perhaps a willingness to "pitch in" to help each other move into a healthier set of circumstances that may repair and strengthen "stretched-thin" relationships. If your relationships at home are improving, you have more to give at work and in all social situations because you see a path to improve those areas as well.


How do you look at your situation and move in a direction that will help create Life Balance? There are many ways, but let me suggest the following as a start:

1. Find time to spend alone. You might start a journal to record thoughts about your life and what you think needs to change. Write down things that are really important to you. What changes need to be addressed first, second, etc.

2. Start small. Create success in small steps for yourself so you have the motivation to continue on your quest for Life Balance.

3. Find activities you enjoy and make time to do them. Doing this helps you feel like you have committed to yourself and you look forward to that activity. Most importantly, you feel empowered that you are starting to make decisions that will improve how you feel about your life. For example, let's say you want to start walking each morning. Consider how much earlier you may need to wake up so you can fit walking into your morning. Instead of thinking about how far you walk, think about walking for a certain length of time, say for 15 minutes to start. Slowly and when you are feeling good about how you are progressing, increase the time for your walking, developing confidence in yourself in this area as you experience success.

4. Solicit relatives or close friends with whom you can share your goals. Ask for their support to keep you accountable to your goals.


One thing to remember is that Life Balance is fluid. This means we all need to work on maintaining gains toward Life Balance each day. When you get up each day, consider those things that are most important in terms of tasks to be completed or that need effort toward completion. We all need to adapt to conditions that may present themselves that we didn't anticipate, so new decisions and priorities may need to be made for that day. Without a doubt, working toward Life Balance is a "juggling act," but it is attainable with commitment, effort and perspective. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain as you pursue Balance in your Life.

I look forward to your feedback as you join this blog and share your thoughts.


Until next time,







Posted on February 23, 2016 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to this first edition of The Early Start College Planning blog!  I am very excited to share my insights about college planning with you!  As you read this edition, think about yourself, who you are, what interests you, what you want for your future.  Go ahead, DREAM!  Let yourself be open to possibilities as you start this life-changing process to create the future you want for yourself!  Have fun!

Middle school years are not too early to start planning for college/post high school training. One way to start this process is to keep a notebook on your strengths and interests as you go through middle school and throughout high school.  Here is a list of items to consider when thinking about the college going process as a middle school student. 

1. Where in the U.S. or overseas would you like to go to college?

2. Are you basically outgoing or more reserved? If outgoing, a larger school might appeal to you. If more reserved, a smaller environment might serve you better.


 3.   Larger schools often have lots of activities, sports, etc.  At smaller schools, it might be easier to feel included.  Which might appeal to you more, given what you know about yourself at this time?


 4. Location matters.  Do you want to attend a school in a more populated area with many off campus possibilities, or would a small college town atmosphere appeal to you more?

5. Does "going away" to college scare you?  If so, consider local colleges that might be an hour or so away from home.


6. Perhaps starting at a community college might best fit your needs early in your college years. Consider local community colleges.

7. Do you have a talent?  Are you a strong student?  Do you play an instrument, have a particular skill, play a sport, aspire to more leadership opportunities?  These are areas in which you might receive scholarship/financial aid money to attend college.  Keep these areas in mind as you consider different colleges and the opportunities they may offer you.


While I could list many more items for consideration, this list is a good starting point to consider as you begin your college search process.


Be aware that as you pursue answering these questions, others will arise and you may change your mind many times about any or all of the issues raised above.  THAT'S OK BECAUSE YOU ARE STARTING EARLY! YOU HAVE TIME TO CHANGE YOUR MIND. This is the most important value of starting early to set goals for yourself regarding your future after high school.


Go online to do searches by part of the country or by state.  For example, you could search "four year colleges in New England with strong engineering programs" to bring up schools with solid engineering programs.  Look at their websites.  See what courses you have to take to be an engineering major.  Check out how their campus looks.  See if they show photos from different seasons of the year.  Can you see yourself living there and spending four years in that environment?  Make a folder on your desktop with colleges you like, so you can go back and revisit their websites in the future.


Have fun with this process.  Don't spend too much time on it at one sitting unless you are motivated to do so. Do however, commit each week to spending time online for maybe 15 minutes at a time.  Let your awareness of your strengths and interests guide you as you look for colleges online or explore local colleges by visiting them. BE CURIOUS about your future.  At this time in your search, it should be fun and a time of gathering information about yourself and possibilities for your future.  Write down names of colleges you like in your notebook and maybe a sentence or paragraph about what interested you.  

Please respond to my blog if you find any of these ideas helpful, or if there are questions you have about anything in this first edition.  I look forward to your feedback.

Until next time,

John Cotter