Moving to the Head of the Class

Posted on Wednesday, February, 29th, 2012 at 7:27 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

After years of university lecturing, there’s one thing that becomes pretty clear when you’re a professor or instructor—college students are not all created equal when it comes to classroom behavior. There are the listeners and the laughers, the sleepers and the schemers, the truly inquisitive and the non-stop conversationalists (who aren’t talking academics). This week, I gave USA TODAY College some tips for students that just might get them to the head of the class. Send the link to your college student. It couldn’t hurt. Read more here.

♡ College Valentines ♡

Posted on Tuesday, February, 14th, 2012 at 11:48 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

Hey Parents!

Valentine’s Day can be guilt-producing. And if you’re the parent of a college student, there’s a good chance your ATM has run dry. There are still plenty of ways to show you care. And there are plenty of ways to be practical and thoughtful at the same time. Listen in to this week’s’s College Mom Minute. It’s not too late for a few ideas. And it’ll only take a minute. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Miley Cyrus on Campus

Posted on Friday, February, 3rd, 2012 at 11:03 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

It seems like every week a celebrity provides parents with more than a few teaching moments. And with universities scrambling to create popular pop culture courses for students to enjoy, I decided to weigh in on a possible winner for my blog on The Huffington Post.

Miley Cyrus 101 would review all aspects of bad judgement, the hidden dangers of friends with cell phones, and the importance of choosing cakes that don’t come back to bite you (or is it the other way around? ). Read more here….

9 Months of Hard Labor: What To Expect When You’re Expecting College

Posted on Wednesday, January, 25th, 2012 at 12:23 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (9 comments)

Illustration by Jesse Lenz

This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Denison Magazine. Special thanks to Denison University, Maureen Harmon, Editor and her staff, and to Jesse Lenz for his illustrations.


Time Flies when you’re a parent. One minute the minivan is stocked with juice boxes and action figures, and the next it’s loaded with duffle bags and dorm decorations. Once upon a time, I thought I had the whole parenting thing figured out. Then my older son applied to college, and I learned there is another process as challenging as childbirth.

It’s not a coincidence that a teen’s senior year is about nine months long. Obsessing over prepping, searching, applying, and waiting, parents who survived three trimesters way back when sit at another nail-biting crossroads, with even less control.

The college expectancy period involves at least three trymesters. The operative word is try. Try (trı) v.: to make an attempt or effort to do something. Ex.: I will try to stay sane during my child’s senior year.

The problem is, there’s no Lamaze class for the bumpy college-bound journey. And parents deserve more than a sugarcoated handbook for what to expect when their kids hit the college circuit. So after two tours of duty, I decided it was time to write one.

Please note: College-bound trymesters can differ, depending upon whether your child applies early decision, early action, or regular decision, but the course is still the same—trauma, drama, nagging, and success. Ironically, you’re required to keep your senior on track at exactly the same time that those “What did I walk into this room for?” senior moments start hitting you. Like childbirth, however, the pain is fleeting and, in the end, well worth it. Your baby’s going to college.

First Trymester Features:

It’s normal to be nervous, nauseated, and confused during the first trymester of your child’s college search. Expect the symptoms to be worse if it’s your first child. The process bears no resemblance to your beanbag chair college days, and you’re clueless. Life is one big question mark with tons of abbreviations. Acronyms haven’t been this unsettling since the unsolicited AARP application landed in your mailbox before its time. AP. ACT. SAT. GPA. ED. EA. Each one seems more important than the next. By the time you figure out what a FAFSA is, you need an EKG and a security guard for your IRA.

The only thing worse than worrying about your teen taking standardized tests is the thought of having to take them yourself. It’s true; I’d take a bullet for my kid but not the SAT. To combat this overwhelming anxiety, you will likely resort to one of three strategies:

1: Shopping You can’t pass a Barnes & Noble without purchasing several phone book-sized practice tests for your teen. Amazon’s emails begin to suggest you might also be interested in the LSAT, GMAT, and some Rosetta Stone software. You have enough CDs, DVDs, flashcards, and course materials to open your own Princeton Review satellite office. Chances are good that by the time this shopping spree is over, you will have carpal tunnel syndrome.

To read more: see Denison Magazine online.

Getting Justin Bieber College-Ready

Posted on Saturday, January, 7th, 2012 at 4:44 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (9 comments)

Even millionaire pop stars consider college, so this week I’ve fired off some tips for Justin Bieber’s mom via The Huffington Post. Parenting college-bound teens is a challenge, but coaxing a teen off of his tour bus to tour a college campus has to be impossible. Read more here.


Learning from Kim Kardashian

Posted on Saturday, December, 31st, 2011 at 2:39 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

This week, in a blog for The Huffington Post, I reviewed those crazy 2011 celebrity moments that gave parents plenty of material for their “I told you so” conversations with teens.

May 2012 bring you great parenting moments. And this year, when celebrity role models act out or behave themselves (And you know they will!), may you help your child discover the important lessons that should be learned along the way.

Happy New Year!!


′tis The Season: College Students Flock Home

Posted on Monday, December, 19th, 2011 at 9:59 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (4 comments)

Preparing for my college student's return...

Thanksgiving Break gives families a tiny taste of togetherness, but it can be pretty misleading. Great food and “catch up” conversation, laundry services, and a quick turnaround back to campus makes for an easy transition. The long Winter Break? Well, that’s another story.

Below is my list of common student and parent pet peeves to watch out for over the holidays. They’re normal, but they’re easier to handle if you see them coming. Take a deep breath and hang onto your patience and that holiday spirit.

 Parent Pet Peeves

 1. The Popular Phrase: “I’m in college so you can’t tell me what to do.” Enough said.

2. The Social Media Frenzy: This is propelled by the need to stay connected, as in “I miss my college friends and will Skype and text them constantly until I return to campus.”

3. Their Superior Attitude: This has the “my life is cooler than yours” undertones as in “This town is so lame and boring, I don’t know how you can live here.”

4. The Kitchen Destruction: A college student let loose in a fully stocked pantry is always the recipe for chaos.

5. Their Sleep Schedule: Family meal planning is sabotaged. How can you schedule lunch when their breakfast happens at 2 p.m.?

College Student Pet Peeves

 1. The Questions: Parents delight in digging. They want to know about every class, professor, and friend you’ve encountered since September. They want to know if you’re happy and they’re not afraid to ask you. Over. And over. And over again.

2. The Hovering: Parents can’t help it. They have to make sure you’ve had enough helpings of mashed potatoes even though you said you were full 15 minutes ago.

3. The Clean Up Requirements: Parents have spent the last 3 months wandering in and out of your tidy room. They’ve become used to it. Your return is a shock to their system.

4. The Expectations: Yup, parents can’t shake the “You’ll live by my rules” attitude. They expect you to get up at the crack of noon, not wake up an entire household because you want to play video games or make macaroni and cheese at 3 a.m. Their inflexibility can drive you crazy.

5. The Dress Code Comments: When you return with a beard or have traded cargo pants for skinny jeans, expect parental commentary. Any dramatic apparel or hair change can lead to lengthy critiques. Old habits die hard. Add a tattoo or piercing to the mix and you’ve got some explaining to do.

Happy Holidays!

Leave a comment and let me know how you make your reunions work!

First published on

Thanksgiving Reunions

Posted on Monday, November, 21st, 2011 at 11:52 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

They're back....

Finally, your college kids are coming home! Chances are it’ll be a fun and frustrating experience. Will your guest room ever be the same? Check out my College Mom Minute on— because parents of returning college students only have a minute! Happy Thanksgiving!

ABC Gets It—College-Bound Anxiety

Posted on Friday, November, 18th, 2011 at 7:51 pm by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

If you need a break from proofreading essays or nagging your teen to write one, tune into my latest post for The Huffington Post  featuring two spectacular shows that capture the family angst of the college-bound process. ABC’s Modern Family and The Middle nail the entire process in two episodes each—guaranteed to leave you laughing! I’ve got a strong suspicion there’s a college-bound parent in those writers’ rooms! Thank you ABC writers for putting us in good company on the journey to higher education.

College Prowling

Posted on Thursday, October, 20th, 2011 at 10:29 am by Dr. Nancy Berk   (No comments)

Most parents embarrass their teens without even trying. The college tour experience is no exception. But this week I found a way to tour without teen eye rolling. College Prowler’s Zach Adamerovich joined Whine At 9 to give me the scoop on, a handy tool to get some behind-the-scenes’ perspectives on college campuses. Pair this tool with university websites, real live tours, and conversations with college admissions professionals and you’ll get a multidimensional feel for campus life.

Copyright 2013, Nancy Berk Media, LLC