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Cynthia Muchnick On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer

Interviewed by Kristin Marquet for Authority Magazine

Some writers and authors have a knack for using language that can really move people. Some writers and authors have been able to influence millions with their words alone. What does it take to become an effective and successful author or writer? In this interview series, called “5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer” we are talking to successful authors and writers who can share lessons from their experiences. As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cynthia Muchnick.


Three Books; Harry's SPARE, Parenting, a Pandemic Novel

by Francene Katzen for The Three Tomatoes

The Parent Compass, by Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick, MA & Jenn Curtis, MSW, is a terrific guide to help in raising children.  Every parent should read this book to help one understand how to engage with our teens and parent with more awareness.  The authors provide us with suggestions for parenting while also saying there is no one way to parent. They understand the more important goal is to keep the line of communication open between you and your child.


Cynthia Muchnick of The Parent Compass on How to Raise Children Who Feel Loved and Connected

Interviewed by Pirie Jones Grossman for Authority Magazine

Parenting is challenging. We all try so hard to give our all to our children. We desperately want them to feel loved and connected. But somehow there is often a disconnect. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, or that we don’t seem to speak the same language as our children, or just all of the “disconnection” that our kids are dealing with in today’s frenetic world. What are steps that parents can take to help their children feel loved and connected? As a part of our series about “How to Raise Children Who Feel Loved and Connected” we had the pleasure to interview Cindy Muchnick.


Smells Like Teen Spirit

by Kelly Fredericks, Dear Mr. Hemingway

Today I am presenting the MOST WONDERFUL book for parents of teens.  We all know that the book What To Expect When You Are Expecting is THE go-to book for new parents.  Unfortunately, this book and the one after do not cover the teen years.  And let me tell you this…if there was ever a time for a parent manual, it is during this period. This is where today’s book comes into play.  The Parent Compass by Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick, MA & Jenn Curtis, MSW could not be more timely.  I am literally in the throws of TEENAGEHOOD, and this book is my new GPS.  

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I Never Set Out to Be an Author, but I Became One Anyway

by Cynthia Muchnick for Zibby Magazine

I am not a short fiction writer or novelist. I’m not a biographer or nonfiction writer. I’m not an essayist or journalist either. And yet, despite those concessions, I’ve managed to carve out my own little self-declared genre.

In 1993, my boyfriend proposed to me on a Scrabble board by scattering the words WILL... YOU…MARRY…ME during our game and that moment became a catalyst — not just for twenty-seven years (so far) of happy marriage, but also for a fulfilling career as a working author.


20+ Reasons Why Homework Should Not Be Banned

(The Editors interviewed Cynthia Muchnick for article)

Homework has been a source of many heated discussions—and one of the most common questions people ask is whether or not it should be banned.

Many believe homework stifles student creativity, while others see homework as an important tool to help students with their studies.

The following are valuable insights from professionals on why homework should not be banned.


15+ Reasons Why Homework Should Be Banned

(The Editors interviewed Cynthia Muchnick)

The practice of assigning students homework has been around for a long time. However, some people determine this task as a rapidly declining learning tool, with some pushing for it to be banned completely.

So the question is, should schools ban giving homework to students?


Practical Tips on How to Prepare for an Exam

(interviewed Cynthia Muchnick for article)

Do you have exams coming up and are you determined to do your best? Here are some ways to prepare for them so that you can reach your maximum potential and get through this mentally taxing time. These pre-exam tips will help you pass with flying colors. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in.


How to Avoid Being "That" Parent: Why We Need to Ease Up on our Kids and How to Do It

by Melinda Moyer

(interviewed Cynthia Muchnick & Jenn Curtis)

Over the holidays, I read a book I’ve had on to-read list for months: The Parent Compass, written by college admissions expert Cynthia Muchnick and educational consultant Jenn Curtis. It’s a wonderful book that dissects the ways in which modern parents are often overbearing — pressuring kids to get good grades, rescuing them from challenges, hiring too many tutors — and explains why these well-meaning approaches are actually counterproductive. But the best part is that the book also provides a clear roadmap for parents on how to ease up on domineering instincts so that our kids can find their voices and flourish.

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Making an Unexpected Friend at the Post Office

by Cindy Muchnick, M.A.  

It’s never too late in life to foster new relationships and learn new lessons

I stood in line to mail a few packages at my local post office. In front of me, carrying on a flustered conversation with the postal worker at the counter, was an elderly gentleman, clearly of a different era: gray wool coat, tweed fedora, walking cane hooked around one of his wrists.

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It's Never Too Late to Thank a Teacher

by Cindy Muchnick, M.A.  

I was not a math whiz, but my high-school teacher figured out ways to make those lessons stick — even thirty-five years later.

My teenager has been struggling in her ninth-grade geometry class. The other night, she brought her homework packet to me in frustration and asked for help. Now, I was no math wiz in high school — as a student, I was always stronger in English and history — but somehow, as soon as I took a look at my daughter’s homework, the geometry concepts came flooding back to me.

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14 Favorite Parenting Books We Read This Year

by Cindy Muchnicks, M.A. and Jenn Curtis M.S.W.

Fellow parents, the last year has given us time to read, reflect, think, and make some new parenting choices. We’ve been fortunate to have had conversations with so many of the authors below and have had the privilege of reading their timely books chock full of sage advice. So, this holiday season, we invite you to dive into our list of the best books we read this year. Add them to your 2022 “To Be Read” (TBR) pile and, even better, gift them to friends. It’s never too late to add some new tools to your parenting arsenal.

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What is Parents' Role in The College Process?

by Cindy Muchnicks, M.A. and Jenn Curtis M.S.W.

We took a trip to Boston last week. As educational consultants, part of our job is to travel the country to visit college and boarding school campuses so that we can learn more about what each one uniquely offers its students. Large or small? Urban or rural? Ample research opportunities or co-op style internship opportunities? Our visits reveal valuable information that we pass on to our students and their parents. 


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An Unexpected day of Detox from Wifi Allowed Me to Reconnect With Myself

by Cindy Muchnick  

It began like any ordinary weekday. Early alarm clock. Shower. Coffee. Cereal and smoothies for the kids. Shuffle the teens out the door to school.

(click button to read more)

The Parent Compass, with Sarah Moore

In this interview, we discuss

  • What it means to have a "parent compass" and how we use it effectively

  • The importance of play time, downtime, and family time for optimal mental health

  • How to help our kids develop intrinsic motivation even if they're struggling to find it

  • Why there's no "one right path" to defining success

  • How to nurture our children's interests in passions

  • ...and so much more!


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Four for Four, The Mom Experience on Medium

by Cindy Muchnick  

I am a lucky, busy, and exhausted mother of four healthy humans: one college graduate, one in college, and two in high school. I have cultivated a special relationship with each of my kids that has spanned their lives. I know that I am blessed.

(click button to read more)

Alternatives to College: Exploring Other Routes

by Cindy Muchnick and Jenn Curtis

We don’t need to belabor the point that this generation of teens is tired, depressed, and burnt out. You already know that. If you’re a teenager, you may be experiencing it yourself. And if you’re a parent, you’ve probably watched your teen struggle, adjust, then perhaps struggle some more as they’ve grappled with the turmoil of the past 18 months.

11 Books Every Parent Should Read this Fall

by Zibby Owens for Katie Couric Wake-Up Call 

If you ever wanted a parenting roadmap, here you go. It isn’t just kids who have separation anxiety this fall: What about all of us parents?! While we may be eager to push our lovable littles out the front door to finally reclaim time for ourselves (and our sanity!), we may panic at the thought of sending them out into the world after a year of pandemic life and a long summer at home. As we start fresh this September, it’s not just a time to order new backpacks and pens: Now’s also a good time to rethink our parenting strategies.

What We Learned From Writing a Book Together

Moms Don't Have Time to Write

by Cindy Muchnick & Jenn Curtis

It’s better to focus on the journey and not on the destination, as the adage goes. This strategy is central to our co-authored book on parenting. But when you’re writing a book, the process is necessarily destination-focused. There exists one explicit end goal: a bound tome bearing your name on its glossy cover.

Preparing for Launch: 7 Topics Parents and Teens Should Discuss Before Leaving For School

by Cynthia Muchnick & Jenn Curtis

Before the final goodbye hug on the dorm stairs, parents and teens should discuss these seven topics that are crucial for a successful transition from living at home to living on your own.

5 Ways to Really Connect with Your Teen

by Cynthia Muchnick

Some parenting experts say that connecting with a teen is like trying to hug a porcupine. In other words, it’s just not easy. One-word answers, eye rolls, and shrugs might be some of the replies you are used to receiving from your teen on any given day. But if we encourage and receive active engagement from our teens, we might find them responding with effusive hugs, detailed verbal replies, and enthusiastic sharing. And aren’t those meaningful connections so satisfying?

Authors Cynthia Muchnick and Jenn Curtis on The Parent Compass:

A college admission guidebook

by Linda Grasso

The Varsity Blues scandal blew the lid off the college admissions process two years ago. For many parents, the scandal reinforced suspicions: The process is not only challenging, but it can also be unfair and even corrupt. With so many deferrals and postponements in 2020—and an absence of standardized testing—COVID has made the process even more challenging.

College admissions experts Cynthia Muchnick and Jenn Curtis address the challenges and offer guidance in their new book The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen’s Wellness and Academic Journey in Today’s Competitive World. Here VB editor Linda Grasso queries the authors about some of the new challenges that have arisen, gleaning some critical dos and don’ts.

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Straight-A Study Skills for Teens to Kickstart the School Year Right

by Cynthia C. Muchnick, M.A. 

After this challenging year of Zoom school, hybrid learning, and all sorts of unknowns for students, traditional study skills and time management strategies fell by the wayside. 

Enjoy the Ride: 9 Actions Parents Can Take to Survive the College Admission Roller Coaster

by Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick, M.A. and Jenn Curtis, M.S.W.

Picture a roller coaster. Not a small, beginner-level one but an epic, change-your-life, go-through-all-the emotions one. Envision one with the most stunning twists, the most jaw-dropping peaks, and the most stomach-churning drops. Got that picture in your head? Good, because those crests, valleys, and loops, in truth, can also represent the daunting nature of the college admission process. But they don’t have to.

Kids Under Construction: Authors of ‘The Parent Compass’ help parents navigate middle and high school

ABC4 Salt Lake City

When it comes to raising children, it is crucial for parents to understand their role in navigating them to appropriate emotions and conceptions. 

On May 7, Parenting expert Donna Tetreault and Author Cindy Clumeck Muchnick join ABC4 to explain the value of navigation amidst a competitive academic environment.

According to Tetreault, a great guide to understanding this parental role is book, Parent Compass.

All We Needed Was a Dollar and Some Wind

Moms Don't Have Time to Write

by Cindy Muchnick

No, we were not out frolicking on a family vacation this spring break. Instead, like many families around the world, we stayed local and made the best of it.

My fourteen-year-old daughter signed herself up for a one-week golf clinic to learn the basics; she was masked, outdoors, with social-distance guidelines in place — the whole drill. I’d been relegated to my role as her chauffeur, something I happened to relish after a year-long absence of extracurricular activities. . .

How to reset your 'Parent Compass' with Jenn Curtis and Cindy Muchnick

Deirdre Fitzpatrick

KCRA NBC 3 Sacramento


Have you seen "Operation Varsity Blues" on Netflix yet? It's one of the network's most-streamed shows these days and it's full of Sacramento connections.

It's shocked viewers for two reasons.

One, it's still hard to believe Aunt Becky did what she did. Two, it's truly sad to find out how much stress high school kids face trying to get into the college of their dreams. 

And, that was pre-pandemic. . .

Parenting Best Sellers, February 2021 | Most In Demand in Libraries & Bookstores

Library Journal

The list of the Top 20 best selling titles in the parenting category includes titles most in demand by libraries and bookstores nationwide (as tracked by Baker & Taylor). 

Feeding the Mind and Soul

Southbay Magazine

by Cynthia Muchnick

. . .In pre-COVID-19 times, our family dinners looked very different. They were often frantically squeezed in between extracurricular activities, homework, social media distractions, playdates and carpools. But because our kids have been spending more time at home since the start of the pandemic, sharing family meals with them has been easier. . .

How to Limit Screen Time Without Conflict

Smart Social (#5 is Cynthia's Tip)

If screen time becomes so out of control that teens and tweens experience headaches, erratic sleep patterns, or cannot disengage from their tech, here are some suggestions:

1) Model good tech behavior as an adult. Put down your tech and connect with your teen.

2) In our book, The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen’s Wellness and Academic Journey in Today’s Competitive World, we resolutely recommend helping your teen shut down all devices for a full hour before they go to bed. Collecting cell phones, iPads, and laptops are a necessary nightly habit. Store them in a common area like a kitchen or house entry area. Studies do show that sleep patterns are negatively impacted by the use of tech too close to bedtime.

College Waitlists Are Longer Than Usual: Here's What Waitlisted Students Need To Know

College Confidential

by Joy Bullen

After months of researching, applying and waiting, college-bound high school seniors are hearing back from colleges, but more students than usual may find that the waiting game isn't over yet — they've been waitlisted. Cynthia C. Muchnick, M.A., long-time college admissions expert and co-author of The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen's Wellness and Academic Journey in Today's Competitive World tells College Confidential, "I have never, in my entire 30+ year career, seen anything come even close to the waitlist experiences I have heard about and guided families through this last year."

How a Young Book Lover Becomes a Writer and Teacher

Moms Don't Have Time to Write

by Cindy Muchnick

In 2006, my eight-year-old son, our firstborn, stuffed fourteen library books into his suitcase for a one-week family vacation in Hawaii. The weight pushed his luggage over the airplane’s fifty-pound limit. We had to move the books into a carry-on so that he had room to pack clothes, too. . .

Behind the Book: The Parent Compass

Familius Blog

by Cindy Muchnick and Jenn Curtis

In March 2019, Operation Varsity Blues (also known as The College Admissions Scandal) erupted. At the time, we were professional colleagues—educational consultants who devoted our careers to guiding teens on their academic journeys. Shocked as the news unfolded, we called one another lamenting the stories of bad parenting behavior overtaking the headlines before our eyes. That very day, the idea for The Parent Compass was born. . .

Seeing My Teenager Build Resilience: A Pandemic Silver Lining

Your Teen Mag

by Cindy Clumeck Muchnick

. . . I begin to fantasize about the evening ahead, when all of my birds are in the nest, under my roof. I plan a large meal, pull out the Scrabble board, and prepare for an evening of togetherness.

That night, when I look around the dinner table, I start to tear up. Moments like these are harder to come by now that my oldest two are in college. To have them home, along with their two younger teenage siblings—what could be better?

But as the week progresses, and the news of COVID-19’s emergence and initial spread in our country begins to increase, our household receives big news for all of our kids. . .

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Following Your Kids on Social Media: 24 Tips for Parents

by Smart Social (#4 is Cynthia's Tip)

. . .We encourage you to dialogue with your family about what tech rules will be upheld in your household and to best determine how your devices won’t divide you. Reflect on your parenting practices as they relate to tech, and determine your own dependence on your devices. . .

How to Overcome Test Anxiety: Educators and Students Comment

Outwit Trade

by Katie Holmes

"[Cynthia Muchnick advises to]. . .avoid people who are alarmists. If you have classmates who panic and are completely stressed out themselves, their stress will rub off onto you. Block out the panic of others; don't let the fear expressed by others bring you down. Avoid these folks, especially leading up to the testing periods. 

"Have a positive mindset: if you have prepared to the best of your ability and learned the material as best you can, then you can succeed and do well on the test/exam. Positivity can make or break your mindset."

Reinventing the Slumber Party: Social Distancing Sleepover

Your Teen Mag

by Cindy Clumeck Muchnick

"Since Covid-19, I’ve had to find creative ways to try to replicate some of the more basic pre-pandemic activities that we once took for granted. As I write this, with heavy bags under my eyes and hundreds of calories burned bringing food and supplies from my kitchen to the backyard again and again, I am proud that my eighth grade daughter’s first Covid-era backyard sleepover was a success. . ."

How Much Should You Pay A Tutor for Your Child? It All Depends


by Jennifer Parris

Tutors typically teach for 60-90 minute blocks once or twice a week depending on a child’s age, the grade they’re in, and the subject being taught. You can receive anything from homework help to study prep in subjects that are challenging to your child, and will have the opportunity to dictate the course of study with the tutor (whether that's to help your child understand critical concepts or ace that upcoming English exam).

...“Tutoring should be a last resort,” advises Muchnick. “Before investing in a tutor, ask your child/teen and yourself, has your child exhausted all of their other options for help before hiring a tutor?” You can find out if your child’s school has any support services — such as the teacher, peer tutors, or even tutoring sessions — before turning to a tutor for help.

New book, The Parent Compass, helps guide parents toward healthier relationships with their teens


by Linda Hubbard

When the Operation Varsity Blues scandal erupted in 2019, Menlo Park resident Cindy Muchnick‘s phone 'started exploding,' she recalls. 

That wasn’t surprising given that she’s an expert in the college admission process, having run a private study skills and college counseling business for over 15 years in Southern California before moving north in 2018. Since closing her private educational practice in 2011, she’s focused on public speaking to student, parent, school and business groups on a variety of education-related topics.

The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen’s Wellness & Academic Journey in Today’s Competitive World

Publishers Weekly

In an earnest and instructive guide, educational consultants Muchnick and Curtis offer strategies to help parents navigate their kids’ challenging adolescent years. The authors include anecdotes, input from experts, and their own observations as parents themselves (Muchnick is a mother of four, and Curtis of two) while warning parents to avoid overbearing parenting styles and to mind how social media and academic competitiveness place pressure on teens’ emotional health. . .

20 Ways Students Can Avoid Oversharing Online

by (#6 is Cynthia's Tip)

Ask yourself this question before you post: would you feel comfortable if your post was seen/read by your grandparents, teachers, or coaches? Or your parents? If your answer is, “No,” to any of those questions then do not post it; it is oversharing!

Posting text or photos on digital media is like getting a permanent tattoo. The words you write-whether on a quick Snapchat or in an Instagram post or in a “private” text message- are anything but quick and private. Screenshots can be taken on anything you post thereby making everything that you think is private actually public.

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Trade Schools Might Be A Better Option Than Colleges. Here's Why.

Verizon Media

by Justin Chan

Ultimately, trade schools can provide the necessary space for many who are trying to figure out a career that works best for them, said Cindy Muchnick, a former high school teacher and co-author of The Parent Compass: Navigating Your Teen’s Wellness and Academic Journey in Today’s Competitive World.

“Students can blossom at different times. Some cruise though high school ready to tackle college, while others need more time to marinate and grow," she told In The Know. "A generation ago, a high school graduate who attended a trade year might have been perceived as a student that did poorly in school or was not mature enough to leave home and go to college. Attending a trade school, though, offers teens time to learn a craft, some time to decompress from the pressures of a traditional academic or school classroom.”

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Don’t focus on college rankings lists, which are misleading and easily manipulated by colleges

LA Times

by Cindy Muchnick and Jenn Curtis

When the college admissions scandal news broke, we called one another in extreme concern, lamenting the crazy circus that our beloved profession has become as a result of a hyper-competitive college admissions landscape coupled with inappropriate parenting madness.

But alongside our shock, echoed by so many around the country, at overreaching parents who resorted to fraud and bribery to help their kids get into college, something more important — more positive — emerged from our conversation.

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Why Are Parents Still Behaving Badly?

by Cynthia Muchnick, MA, and Jenn Curtis, MSW

“A classmate’s mom got her two kids into [insert any Ivy League school name here.] I don’t actually know her, but I was told that she personally coached her kids and was super on top of the whole college admissions process." Wait, did we just read that correctly? A classmate’s mom got her kids into college? What?

This anonymous comment, posted to an online parenting message board just days after the recent sentencing of Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, forces us all to ask ourselves: Have we learned nothing from Operation Varsity Blues?

Considering the tremendous pressures placed on families due to Covid-19 school interruptions and modifications, one would think that — now more than ever — parents would want to prioritize their kids’ well being, not pile more stress onto their already stressed-out teens. But, in fact, the case is unfortunately quite the opposite. . .


Family Night: 17 Ways to Have Fun Without Screens

by (#4 is Cynthia's Tip)

"Try a 'disconnection diet': Cindy Muchnick, Educational Consultant, Co-Author of The Parent Compass.

“'Get your family to try a 'disconnection diet' or a mini-vacation from technology. Start small with an hour, then grow to a half-day, full-day, weekend, or even a month. Can you give up tech for Lent or another special occasion? Maybe make it a family competition, but define what is included in your tech diet...'”

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