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?

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. 

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.

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. . .

Screen Shot 2021-05-02 at 8.38.51 AM.png

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. . .

Your Teen logo.jpg

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. . .

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."

Your Teen logo.jpg

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.

Along the way, she met education consultant Jenn Curtis. "We talked while the scandal was still unfolding and decided we needed to do something to re-educate parents and help get them back on track," Cindy says.


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.

Yahoo Life.png

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.”

LA Times.png

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.

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...'”