College Bound and Gagged Gets a Tina Fey Moment

Posted on Thursday, February, 21st, 2013 at 10:42 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)
Photo courtesy of David Lee / Focus Features

Photo courtesy of David Lee / Focus Features

Nearly a year ago, I signed a release for my book College Bound and Gagged to appear in a feature film starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. While thrilled, I prepared myself that this walk on carry on role would end up on the cutting room floor. When Focus Features’ execs invited me to the screening of Admission a few weeks ago, I was excited to finally learn if “we had been accepted”. Read more about it and my neurotic pre-screening cognitions on and The Huffington Post. You can watch the Admission trailer here.

Note: Admission: The Movie is based on the fabulous novel Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

College Admission Tips from the Super Bowl

Posted on Friday, February, 1st, 2013 at 9:39 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

Steeler scores

Are you ready for some football? As Super Bowl approaches and game day hosts scramble for the last bag of chicken wings, there are some important college admission lessons we can learn from the NFL. Read more here in my Huffington Post blog.

Same School Siblings

Posted on Wednesday, January, 23rd, 2013 at 5:16 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

NYU Commencement 2011: Yankee Stadium

Most parents don’t anticipate that all of their children will have similar college-bound journeys. But some teens choose the same college as a sibling and some even choose the same career path. I can speak first hand on that experience, with one NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, Film & Television grad and one sophomore.

Because of the college admission learning curve, my sons’ choices made it a little easier on this frazzled parent. By the time #2 rolled on campus, we knew the school, the program and the locations of the admissions office, student health and parking garages. But just when I was enjoying the fact that my kids were growing up and destined to be in the same industry, the 49ers and the Ravens landed in the Super Bowl line up. Brothers vying for the same prize can wreak havoc on a parent’s psyche. Read more in my analysis for The Huffington Post.

Is there “major conflict” in your family?

Posted on Friday, January, 11th, 2013 at 7:29 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

Oprah said to “follow your passion”, but not every parent got that memo or embraces it. This week, in an article for USA TODAY College, I weighed in on a common point of conflict for some parents and their college kids–the major course of study. It can be a touchy subject when family members don’t see eye-to-eye. Tensions can be eased if students research and outline their rationale and parents remain open-minded early in the game. Easy does it. The first choice of major isn’t always the final one. Read more here.

Rejection Letters

Posted on Thursday, December, 13th, 2012 at 2:18 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

As the countdown to college acceptance looms and anxiety heightens in the homes of high school seniors, it’s important to put things in perspective. There are plenty of great schools. A rejection usually isn’t a reflection of a student’s potential. Many amazing students are rejected each year and most will move on to have positive college experiences. Read more in this excerpt from College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get Into A Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind….

Not all letters bring the messages we want. Rejection doesn’t feel good, and often parents feel worse than their seniors. It’s much easier to help your child through the rejection experience if you’ve kept a balanced and logical approach to the college application process. Parents who have emphasized or encouraged the idea that there is only one perfect fit for their senior won’t have an easy time. Seniors who have second and third choices they love are more resilient than those who are unable to picture themselves anywhere but one place.

The majority of disappointed seniors quickly turn enthusiastic about another school. If I could say one thing to a devastated senior once he was ready to listen, it would be this:

“I have never met a well adjusted adult who claimed a college rejection ruined his college experience or life success. Some have even claimed it to be a blessing in disguise.”

Steven Spielberg applied to the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre, Film and Television. He was denied. Twice. Decades later, he was awarded an honorary degree from USC and became a University trustee. Uncomfortable life experiences are slices of reality that teach us valuable lessons. Sometimes it takes a while to know what they are. Spielberg’s experience proves a rejection letter is meaningless when it comes to brilliance, talent, and where you land in life. That’s good news. Life’s successes are tied to one person, not one school.

Essay Angst

Posted on Friday, December, 7th, 2012 at 11:52 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

Is there a college essay on your family table this season? Is your teen brainstorming the essay or just storming off?

Join award-winning broadcaster and’s parenting expert Lian Dolan and Dr. Nancy Berk for Episode 106 of The College-Bound Chronicles. We’re chatting about the power of brainstorming and proofreading, taboo topics and parent behavior you’ll want to avoid. Also on iTunes!

Driving Miss Crazy

Posted on Friday, November, 9th, 2012 at 11:16 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

This week one, of my friend’s announced another exciting family milestone, her son had gotten his driver’s license. The rite of passage just before the college search, it is perhaps a lesson in patience and anxiety that prepares us for the next big launch–higher education. I wrote this after my older son snagged his license and I’m posting it today in honor of Teri, who I know will be much calmer than I was on the journey.

I barely saw it coming. Blindsided on a 16 year road trip, I swear it was only yesterday that I was picking Cheerios and gummy worms off of my car upholstery. I hadn’t even recovered from the trauma of needing bifocals, when I learned that I could add “Driving Instructor” to my resumé.  My son Dan had his learner’s permit. Suddenly there was no buckle big enough to comfort me as I moved over to the passenger seat and prepared myself for another bumpy ride in parenting.

My husband consoled me by pointing out Dan’s video game mastery. Perhaps this obsession had given him the sharpest of reflexes and the patience and concentration of the Dalai Lama. Soon our hesitant driver had confidence and love of the road reserved for career truckers and RV enthusiasts. Obviously, years of license plate games and passing pretzels and juice boxes over my shoulder had created subliminal messages linking the car with food and fun. He couldn’t get enough and I had only myself to blame.

Now Dan can legally operate a motor vehicle without us. Seventeen years ago I was driving around in circles trying to get him to fall asleep. Now he’s driving around on his own and I CAN’T fall asleep. My husband looks for the silver lining.

“Just think, he can help you by running errands—if you give him your car.”

Was this a car pool or a time share and when did I sign up? On a daily basis Dan reminds me of the power of sharing. I’d rejoice if I could shake the fact that it is based upon his need for my car keys and some sorry excuse about craving a caramel latte. Too tired to counter, I hand over the keys. Sharing a car with your teen is like sharing a sleeping bag with a grizzly bear.  When you’re in it together you fear for your safety and when you let him have it alone you doubt you’ll ever get it back in the same condition. Sure enough, the next time I start my car I discover that the radio volume can blast directly to 40, blowing out your eardrums but not your car speakers.

Gently I reprimand the naive driver and force myself to be the model of patience. After all, one day when I am very old I will again assume the passenger seat when he drives me to my doctor’s appointment. (I’m guessing EAR, Nose, and Throat.) By then I will be grateful that the radio volume is on 40. If I don’t fall asleep on the way home, maybe we’ll even stop for a caramel latte.

In Sandy’s Wake: Lessons for College Students and Their Parents

Posted on Saturday, November, 3rd, 2012 at 3:59 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)
Photo credit: Hunter Berk

Manhattan's Dangling Crane (photo courtesy of Hunter Berk)

When my sons chose New York University as their college destination, their father and I recognized the need to discuss safety, emergency planning and even evacuation. September 11th saw to that, as did Katrina and other campus tragedies over the years that no one saw coming. This week, we lived to see the importance of those parental lectures, but we also found that preparation, at the family level, needs to be better — a lot better. Had the devastation in lower Manhattan been worse, or had forces not aligned, my story might be different.

When Sandy hit, it left my Brooklyn-dwelling older son stranded in Florida, which was warm, breezy and safe. That gave me more energy to focus on child #2 who was smack in the middle of lower Manhattan in a high-rise dorm that quickly lost power and water. When he phoned and said, “It’s out. The power just went out,” it was like a punch in the stomach. Now I know it was because we were losing parental power and contact and I wondered if I’d done enough. In retrospect, there was much more we all could have done.

My family is one of the fortunate ones, but it is my hope that sharing our lessons will help college students and their families maximize safety in the face of any disaster.  Read more in my blog for The Huffington Post.

Stash Your Cash! Free College-Bound Resources

Posted on Friday, October, 26th, 2012 at 11:22 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

The word parents crave on the college-bound journey is one they rarely hear. Sadly, “free” and “college” aren’t usually spotted in the same sentence. That’s why The College-Bound Chronicles (Episode 108) focused on free college-prep and admissions resources. Every little bit helps, and saving during the admissions process will let you stash a little cash in the tuition fund.

Below are a few of the resources that were featured in the episode. Keep listening to The College-Bound Chronicles for more free advice and resources to help your family on the quest for college. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@collegepodcast) to continue the dialogue.



1. New! Creative Site to Boost College Readiness

2. Sample Tests and Practice Questions

3. Insightful Standardized Testing Blogs

4. College Admissions from A to Z

5. Virtual Tours

The College-Bound Podcast

Posted on Sunday, October, 14th, 2012 at 12:49 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

Let’s face it, the road to higher education can be bumpy for families. That’s why award-winning broadcaster and’s parenting expert Lian Dolan and I have joined forces to create The College-Bound Chronicles. Lian’s a mom-in-the-trenches with a high school senior. I’m her BFF with credentials, talking her through the process, one podcast at a time.

If you’re parenting toward college admissions, join us for strategy, a little psychology and a lot of fun. It’s like a free college parent support group. That’s right, “free” and “college” in the same sentence. You can listen via iTunes or from this site. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @collegepodcast for more dialogue.

Copyright 2013, Nancy Berk Media, LLC