Struggling to Move On

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

My boyfriend and I dated for two years. Last month, I decided to end the relationship. However, he continues to email and text me, asking to meet. He says he wants to talk in person so he can have closure. However, we have already had several conversations, and I shared my reasons for wanting to end the relationship. I prefer not to meet, and his constant texts and emails are very upsetting to me. I don’t want to cause him more pain, but I need him to accept my choice and move forward. What can I do to make this happen?

Carpool Rules

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Have a question for Rivkie? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear Rivkie,

 School has barely started and I’m already dreading carpool. I am a parent in a carpool mostly with new people, and I don’t know them well at all. Some of the people seem super uptight and constantly comment on group emails, while others barely answer at all. Someone already got angry with another carpool member about switching days. I’m not great with Google Docs, so I’m having a hard time working with the spreadsheet we’re using, but I’m too nervous to ask someone to help!

Helping Your Child Find His Tribe

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Have a question for Rivkie? Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear Rivkie,

 It’s back-to-school time, and my 14-year-old son is dreading it. He misses his friends from sleepaway camp and doesn’t gel with the boys in his class the same way (he is brainy and into science fiction and history, and they are ... let’s just say, not). This happens literally every year since he started going to camp at age 10. Short of mail-ordering new classmates, what can we do to help him accept and connect with the peers he does have instead of wishing he was back at camp?

Dear Recruiter, Where Did You Go?

Written by David Marwick for KempMillJobAssist on . Posted in Advice Columns

Consider this common scenario: A recruiter reaches out to you about a great job. You agree you are well qualified, and you like the location, salary, and company. You submit your resume, but then hear nothing. Or you get the interview, but then hear nothing. Or you are a semifinalist, but then hear nothing.

Pre-empting Visiting Day Vexation

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Have a question for Rivkie? Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dear Rivkie,

 Thanks for your comprehensive coverage of off-the-list packing for camp in the last issue.

Test-Optional Applications Aren’t Always What They Seem

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

In June, The University of Chicago made headlines by becoming the first top-10 school to drop its standardized testing requirement in the undergraduate application process. Thus, students can apply to this prestigious school without submitting ACT or SAT scores. UChicago has long been known as a quirky institution, famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) for their wacky, meta-type essays and uber-liberal student body. Anti-testers rejoiced, saying this move levels the playing field. With growing outcry about privilege in the college admissions arena, is this move really the boon it appears to be?

Telling a student to skip the ACT or SAT narrows his or her choices to test-optional institutions, which eliminates many relatively affordable state schools. It can also put them out of the running for certain scholarships that require such scores in the decision process, like National Merit. Looking down the road, there are some graduate school programs that will accept ACT/SAT scores within a certain period, eliminating the need to take harder standardized tests like the GRE or GMAT. Learning the strategies for and having experience with high-school-level standardized tests makes the graduate school testing process markedly easier. Finally, in a situation with fewer requirements, more students will apply, which means a larger applicant pool. More competition in an already-competitive process? I’m just not seeing the appeal.

But let’s pretend you find all of those factors negligible. How do admissions work when there’s no singular standard by which to evaluate students? How do you compare a Long Island student’s 4.5 GPA to an Alabama student’s 4.5 GPA? How does a college know which school’s grades are inflated, which school’s courses are “guts,” and which student truly earned his or her 4.5? Answer: they don’t. (A recent survey reported that half of American high school students have an “A” average. Grade inflation is a real problem — more on this next month.) It also means that even if the grades are there, the rest of a student’s academic profile must be stellar. A few varsity sports teams, membership in a Jewish organization, and a couple clubs may not cut it anymore. Application essays must be creative, witty, unique, and revealing. Recommendation letters should shine above the other 50,000 received. It almost seems as if a policy designed to alleviate workload and anxiety may, in fact, do the opposite.

But there’s more. This may sound cynical, but I always like to follow the money ... and in this case, the rankings. Schools may have some less altruistic reasons to implement this policy, according to 2015 article on the subject from National Public Radio (NPR : More applications means they can reject more students, which makes them look more selective in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. And, as any parent who has gone through this process knows, applications are expensive — up to $80 a pop. That means just 5,000 additional applicants could net a school an extra $400,000.

Also keep in mind that for schools with test-optional policies, who is actually submitting their test scores? That’s right: students who do well on the tests. Then, when schools calculate their average SAT scores (also used in the aforementioned rankings and publications designed to attract students and highlight their selectivity), the number is misleadingly inflated. Ah, altruism and equality.

As we’ve discussed in previous columns, standardized tests are not the be-all, end-all in the college admissions process, nor should they be. They’re one way to measure mastery of particular basic skills needed to complete higher education and are used in conjunction with other factors in a holistic college process. Your student should absolutely make the choice that is best for him or her regarding test-optional school applications, but make sure you consider both sides of the argument and how they may affect your student’s application and chances for admission.

By Nikkee Porcaro


  Nikkee Porcaro is the founder and president of No Anxiety Prep International, a Greater Washington area-based educational consulting firm that assists students with their educational goals. Email Nikkee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Creating a Safe Space for Children of Divorce

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Have a question about a relationship that you or someone you know is in? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and your question may be answered in a future article.

Back to School — for Teachers, Too

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

When asked what his favorite subject is, my son answers, “English.” This always comes as a surprise — for years he proclaimed he hated writing, and getting him to write always engendered a fight. The reason he now likes English is not a surprise. He will tell you that it is “because of the teacher — she is really nice.”

Ruminating About a Remodel

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Have a question for Rivkie? Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Dear Rivkie,

 My husband and I bought our first house a few years ago. At the time, I thought it was perfect and I was thrilled to be able to buy a home of our own in which to raise our growing family. Flash forward to now, and between HGTV, Pinterest, and the homes of others in our community, I am noticing flaws everywhere. Why aren’t my appliances sleek and shiny? Why is my family room not an oasis of calm with a large-screen TV on the wall that doubles as a family photo? Why is the front entryway not a total “wow”? And let’s not even start on curb appeal.

How a Job-Search ‘Buddy’ Can Help You Find Your Next Job

Written by David Marwick for KempMillJobAssist on . Posted in Advice Columns

Looking for a job can be lonely. Having someone to check in with periodically can offer emotional support and accountability. We call this person a “job search buddy.” (A job search buddy is one type of “accountability buddy” or “accountability partner.” This buddy can help you meet your goals in maintaining your exercise routine, writing a minimum number of pages, and so forth.)

When Fear of Judgement Keeps You From Seeking Safety

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

My husband found out a few months ago that I was having an emotional affair (nothing physical ever happened) by looking through my phone and reading old messages. I feel terrible about what I did, have broken off all contact with this other person, and have apologized repeatedly; I don’t know what else I can do.