Wednesday’s Parent: Self-esteem, college-bound style


Raise your hand if you want to feel good about yourself. My hand is held high and I bet yours is, too. We can also expect a similar response from our children. A healthy dose of self-esteem is what we all want.

So what exactly is self-esteem?

I looked up the definition in a pocketbook I rescued from my daughter’s give-away pile. I also researched the term online (which she does and is probably why she tossed the book in the first place). I found these adjectives: self-assurance, self-confidence, self-respect, and self-value.

PsychCentral explains there are two kinds of self-esteem:

1. Global self-esteem: about who we are

2. Situational self-esteem: about what we do

The former is constant and the latter “fluctuates, depending on circumstances, roles, and events. Situational self-esteem can be high at one moment (e.g., at work) and low the next (e.g., at home).”

Why is self-esteem so important?

Psychology Today says it best,

Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive situations and relationships. Too much self-love, on the other hand, results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures. (It can also be a sign of clinical narcissism.)

How can the college process affect self-esteem?

Too much or too little self-esteem can negatively impact your and your child’s future success. We all have seen examples of self-esteem gone wrong. For the college-bound, self-esteem issues can lead to costly mistakes. Unrealistic college choices and ill-fitting major picks can result in a huge waste of time and money.

From start to finish, the college process can influence self-esteem. The length of a college-bound to-do list may be intimidating to the point of doubting self-confidence to get it all done. Checking a college’s admission requirements and chances for admission may cause a reevaluation of self-assurance. Receiving a rejection letter can be ego crushing and influence self-value. Getting an offer of admission can be ego boosting but doing poorly after enrollment can be devastating to self-respect.

How can parents help their children develop healthy self-esteem?

Here are five fast ways to build self-esteem, college-bound style:

Be objective Your child has many abilities, skills and talents so help him develop those he is good at and enjoys. Listen to what he says and watch what he does. You can provide suggestions and encouragement but ultimately, it’s his resume colleges and employers will review to determine “a good fit.”

Be realistic Don’t encourage attainment of goals your child steadily refuses are not her own. This includes urging colleges where admission requirements don’t match or careers don’t appeal to your child’s interests, accomplishments and talents.

Be genuine Give meaningful compliments when appropriate but don’t exaggerate. Teens can see through false praise which can backfire especially if other authority sources such as his teachers, who will be writing teacher recommendation letters for college, don’t similarly react.

Be focused Keep in mind that you and your offspring want the same thing: for your student to thrive and succeed. Give her the tools needed to be independent, like values and decision-making skills. Then allow her to practice before she is away at college.

Be supportive Rejection is always hard to take but it is common in the college process. Colleges do not admit all qualified applicants if they have more applying than there are spots in the classroom. That’s why the college list is so important. It should consist of 6-8 colleges any one of which your child will be happy to attend. Turn lemons into lemonade and celebrate accomplishments.

The above are my 5 ways for developing healthy self-esteem, college-bound style. Now take a look at Suzanne’s 8 Tips for building self-esteem.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

Parents and college-bound emergency plan

Emergency call button - Public Information Symbol

Emergency call button – Public Information Symbol Photo by public domain by its author, Foundation for Personal Mobility and Ecological Transportation (

If parents need another reason to prepare for emergencies, the recent Boston bombings sure give it.

Boston is home to families and businesses. It is also a college town and major tourist city. Unfortunately, many other American towns have suffered from disasters such as school shootings, Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, epidemics and earthquakes.

The hope is that an emergency plan will never need to be put into action. However, from terrorist and other criminal attacks to health hazards and environmental/weather tragedies, wise families have an emergency preparedness plan.

Parents with college-bound students have unique challenges. They need a plan for when they are all at home and when they are apart. The government’s website is a great resource including instructions to make a plan, build a kit and stay informed.

Here’s a five-point plan for families of college-bound students:

Read more:

It takes this village to get into college

Photo by Nina Matthews from Sydney, Australia, File:Love shadows everything.jpg - Wikimedia

Photo by Nina Matthews from Sydney, Australia, File:Love shadows everything.jpg – Wikimedia

When a student is accepted for college admission, he or she has a lot of backs to pat besides his own. It takes a community to prepare a child for a successful college career and beyond.

Every student has a different assortment of people who fill these roles:

READ more


4 ways colleges can prep you for Valentine’s Day

Cliché: A labor of love.    
POCS Reality: College can help you prep for a lovely Valentine’s Day.     

Every Feb 14 is a celebration of love. Whether you are a born romantic or don’t know where to begin, college can help you prepare for a lovely Valentine’s Day.

According to

The roots of Valentine’s Day goes back to ancient times, when people paid honor to the Roman God of Fertility. This was known as the Feast of Lupercalia, and was celebrated even then on February 14th.

Here are four ways college can prep you for Feb 14:

  1. Look good, feel good One reason colleges are so costly is their amenities-especially the sports kind. If you are not on a team but want to stay fit, check out a college gym or pool for Intramural sports, exercise classes and personal exercise equipment use. Memberships and day passes may be available for both students and the public.
  2. Let your inner poet out Take a college poetry course and commit a couple of romantic poems to memory to recite at the appropriate time. Take a creative writing class so you can make your own thoughtful cards and letters.
  3. Dine fine on a budget Many colleges have a wide choice of fast food eateries along with a cafeteria. Why not order take-out and plate it yourself for a romantic meal at home.
  4. Do something special Colleges host a wide variety of entertainment options including art exhibitions, plays, movies and concerts. Check out the campus events calendar and attend your favorite with your beau.

Some activities and facilities are only for enrolled students and others are open to the public. Check prices because many events are free, low cost or have reduced rates for students, senior citizens, alumni, staff/faculty.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Who said studying the humanities wasn’t practical? Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

College scandals and success stories

Cliché: Ups and downs.    
POCS Reality: The college-bound should stay current because education news is constantly changing.


Scandal, success story, scandal, success story. Welcome to extreme college news 2012 for the good, the bad and the ugly: 

False data and college rankings Claremont McKenna College submitted false SAT scores used in computing college rankings to publications including U.S. News & World Report. The responsible administrator has reportedly resigned. Claremont McKenna is ranked #9 for National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.

According to The New York Times, “Iona College in New Rochelle, north of New York City, acknowledged last fall that its employees had lied for years not only about test scores, but also about graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio, acceptance rates and alumni giving.” Iona College is ranked #30 Regional Universities by U.S. News & World Report.

College endowment returns swell The Wall Street Journal Market Watch reports 2011 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments found “College endowments returned an average of 19.2% (after fees) for the year ended June 30, 2011.” Harvard University heads the list of its The 25 largest college endowments.

Mistaken college admission offers Vassar College, ranked #14 for National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, accepted then rejected 76 early admission applicants. Similar errors have occurred at other colleges, too.

Recent college grad wins $25,000 Adelphi University grad who studied film entered and won Chevrolet’s Route 66 ad contest. The commercial is slated to air during Super Bowl XLVI. Adelphi is ranked #152 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.

SAT cheating scandal There have been at least 20 arrests of SAT test takers and test hirers on Long Island, New York and the NY Senate Higher Education Committee is holding hearings to address test security and cheating penalties. Because of the large amount of fees involved in the scam ($1,500-$3,500), new legislation may provide penalties for parent involvement as accomplices.

Intel competition awards scholarships Among this year’s winners for their science research projects is a homeless college-bound high school senior from Long Island, New York. In addition to being an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist, she is awarded a $50,000 scholarship from AT&T Aspire program on the Ellen DeGeneres show.  

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Whoa – we are only 34 days into 2012. Education news is a wild ride for the college-bound. Take a deep breath and stay focused on your part in the college process.

What’s in your college autobiography?

Cliché: Actions speak louder than words.     
POCS Reality College-bound, in college or out of college, your choices lay the foundation for your future success.


If you were reading your autobiography, would you, the main character, be a coaster or a catalyst in your life story? Whether you are out of college, in college or college-bound, your answer describes your life’s path.

Life is not all about smooth sailing. There are rough seas, too. Does adversity stop you in your tracks or spur you on to success? Will you take full advantage of the opportunities ahead or sit back and enjoy the ride?

Last night, 18-year-old Samantha Garvey, a Long Island semifinalist in the Intel science competition, attended President Barak Obama’s State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C. She’s a homeless teen who continued her studies despite her family’s financial troubles stemming from a car accident that injured both of her parents. Garvey accepted the invitation to attend extended by her congressman, Rep. Steve Israel. She also met with top administration science advisors and other officials.

Garvey’s story is a lesson on self-motivation.

Read more:

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Whether you are choosing a college, choosing college courses, or choosing a career path, will you react or act? The choice is yours.

7 Habits that lead to Spectacular Failure

Cliché: Kick the habit.    
POCS Reality: Certain traits can derail college success and lead to failure.


There are skills that can lead you to success and habits that can doom you to failure.  I was reading the Forbes article The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives  and immediately thought of similar traits in the college-bound.

Colleges look for leadership abilities in their applicants but students must be careful to avoid the dark side. Here are 7 habits that can lead to spectacular failure:

  1. Conceit Top grades, stellar test scores and glowing recommendations illustrate high achievement that attracts attention. However, smugness and arrogance can derail this fast track to college success.
  2. One-dimension Relying on academics only takes students so far. Colleges also want their campus filled students who demonstrate a strong passion in an extracurricular activity or interest.
  3. Know-it-all Life-changing opportunities await students in college. Making snap decisions, before weighing all the pros and cons or asking for advice, can lead to disaster.
  4. Bullying Competition, jokes and pranks can be fun or destructive, good natured or spiteful. College campuses are more sensitive than ever to hazing and harassing.
  5. Show-off College campuses are a community. Negative attention can lead to a bad reputation that is difficult to shake.
  6. Self-doubt Lacking confidence and low self-esteem can hinder maximizing your college experience and taking full advantage of your higher education opportunities.
  7. Inflexible What works in the past may not thrive in the future. Change may not be easy but may be necessary to get back to the path for college success.

Read more: 7 Skills to college success students already have.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: If any of these traits describe you, now is the time to ditch the habits that can lead to spectacular failure and start planning for college success.

5 Ways Parents Can Help During College Finals

Cliché: Help out.    
POCS Reality:  Parents can help their student during finals week with care packages and kind words.


 Is your college student sleep-deprived, bleary-eyed but caffeine motivated to study beyond human endurance? Does he have 4 papers, 3 exams, 2 group projects, and 1 presentation due within the next 7 days? Then it is finals week and students are stressed to do their best, show what they know, and prove they got the most out of their college dollars.

 Here are 5 ways parents can help students achieve their goals:

  1. Send a care package Remind your student you care with a favorite healthy, easy to prepare/eat snack, family photo, CD, and silly tension-relieving toy (beach ball, squeeze ball, stuffed animal). Include a brief note of support or a joke that will bring a smile and perhaps a laugh or two. Pack your own care package or buy one ready-made from a school organization or private gift shop.
  2. Keep contacts short and sweet Whether it’s a phone call, email, or text, keep the message brief and upbeat creating a momentary respite so your student can get back to studying refreshed. Let your student know he can contact you anytime but you will limit your calls so he can finish his work.
  3. Read between the lines Listen to what your student says and notice what he doesn’t say. Sometimes students need a little more help such as from tutoring or counseling services.
  4. Hold your tongue Unless it is an emergency, discuss stressful topics and issues bound for disagreement until after finals. Let your students focus on studies rather than distractions, so he can be better positioned to do his best.
  5. Stay tuned Sign up for college alert emails and regularly review the college’s website. Your student may be so involved in her studies tucked in the library she is unaware of a flu outbreak, severity of a snow storm, or other emergency that lead to schedule changes for dorm/cafeteria/school closings.

 POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: “I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m here for you. Do your best. I’ll see you soon.” Parents can be supportive guides, cheerleaders, and mentors and convey the above messages to their student during finals week.

How College Can Improve Ice Cream

Cliché: Flavor of the month.    
POCS Reality:  So many ice cream flavors but there are just two in a twist.


When it comes to soft ice cream, I’m a big fan of the twist. That way I get two deliciously entwined flavors. As I visit colleges and each campus’s fave parlor, I find the variety of flavors has exploded. What I need is a multi-twist and I call on college students to make it happen.

 The problem

The twist has not kept up with technology. The number of flavors has increased so it has become ever more difficult to just pick two. When the decision has finally been made, inevitably the twist machine’s pairing is different.

What if I want to mix more flavors? Say, red velvet cake, chocolate peppermint frozen hot chocolate, Bananas Foster, and coconut custard pie? Or cinnamon apple strudel, berry cobbler, Dulce de Leche, and sweet cappuccino? The twist stops at two.

 Not a solution

The last time I complained of my dilemma, I was directed to a serve yourself parlor. Although my dish was filled with all of my choices, my cup runneth over. I’d much prefer a pre-measured twist dose that fits my belt notch and budget.

 This is the solution

Attention college students, engineers, inventors, and ice cream lovers everywhere-your challenge is to create a multi-twist soft ice cream machine. Problem solved.

 POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: I’m wondering if there are now more ice cream flavors than college students…

5 Ways Colleges/Students Use Twitter

Cliché: Sign up for Twitter.    
POCS Reality:  Colleges and students use Twitter.


 How do you get info, make connections, and stay current in 140 characters or less? You get on Twitter and easily read brief bits of time-dated posts. The social media site has also become invaluable for colleges and college students for a variety of uses.

Here are 5 ways colleges and college students use Twitter:

1. Emergency Alerts Using Twitter, colleges and students can send real-time updates. For example, The Virginia Tech University newspaper The Collegiate Times got out the word and photos concerning the December 8th campus shootings through it’s Twitter feed when staff were evacuated from the newspaper office, according to The New York Times article: Using Twitter Virginia Tech’s College Newspaper Kept On Publishing.

2. College recruitment Communicating with college staff via Twitter and following Twitter tweets for college updates and photos can help create connections during the admission process.

3. Paying for college Twitter college tweet/essay scholarships can help pay for college. You can start a tweet scholarship search by using keywords: “Twitter and scholarships.”

4. Professor-student contact Through tweets in or out of the classroom, profs and students can share info, videos, and notes. Check this Infographic for surprising results of higher classroom engagement and grades for college students using Twitter to get answers to their questions.

5. Internship/Job search There are several ways and sites to find an internship/job on Twitter including through a Twitter job search engine, Twitter job sites, and creating your own Twitter account to network.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: Twitter is a powerful social media tool. College students should use it wisely and self-edit. A good update of the carpenter saying “Measure twice, cut once” for Twitter users can be “Read twice, post once” before tweeting.