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Tuesday, September 17
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PDT

Registration is required for this free Zoom event.

“How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the College Admissions Process and Transition to College Life’


“In the ever more competitive race to secure the best possible future, today’s students face unprecedented pressure to succeed. They jam-pack their schedules with AP classes, fill every waking hour with resume-padding activities, and even sabotage relationships with friends to “get ahead.” Family incomes and schedules are stretched to the breaking point by tutoring fees and athletic schedules. Yet this drive to optimize performance has only resulted in skyrocketing rates of anxiety, depression, and even self-harm in America’s highest achieving schools. Parents, educators, and community leaders are facing the same quandary: how can we teach our kids to strive towards excellence without crushing them?  Jennifer Breheny Wallace – award winning journalist and author of Never Enough:  When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic and What to Do About It” 


The Teen Advisory Council of The Friends of the Semel Institute invite you to join them for a special Open Mind program, “How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the College Admissions Process and Transition to College Life’.  


An esteemed panel of experts will take a deep dive into the unprecedented and excruciating pressure that teens today face leading up to and during the college application process. Our panel will offer advice and take-aways based on years of experience working with teens at this pivotal time in their lives.  



• Why has achievement pressure reached a boiling point today?  How do we bring down the temperature for students?

• Who has contributed to the pressure?  Schools? Parents? Colleges? Counselors? Peers? All? 

• How do we get our kids to strive towards excellence without crushing them? 


• The Surgeon General has advised that there is a teen mental health crisis in this country with skyrocketing rate of depression and anxiety and a high rate of teen suicide. How is the current college process affecting student’s mental health? 

• How is social media contributing to the pressure to “get into the right an Ivy league school”.  

• Whether directly discussed or not, kids worry about succeeding in our highly competitive and rapidly changing society.  Why has it become so important to get into the right school for future success?

• So, you made it! Admissions behind you, you leave for college. Welcome to college life! What now? How do you adapt to living away from home, most likely for the first time, roommates, making new friends, staying connected to family and old friends, finding a community of peers that you are comfortable with, dealing with more responsibility for school-work etc., etc.



Cindy Chanin- Founder and Director Rainbow EDU Consulting, Former Admissions Officer, Yale University and USC

Cindy Chanin is Founder of Rainbow EDU Consulting & Tutoring, created with the intention of transforming lives through the power of personalized education, customized homeschooling, as well as impactful mentoring and enrichment. Internationally sought after by ambitious parents, Cindy and her team of the nation’s top educators not only help their children prepare for and gain entrance into the most prestigious academic schools in the country, but also help students discover their ambitions, desires, goals, and ultimately, their ‘why’ in the world. From working with elementary, middle, and high school students, to counseling with empty-nester parents, Rainbow EDU provides various services tailored to each individual and their personal path — no story is the same. 


Andrew Fugilini, PhD – Co-Executive Director for the Center for the Developing Adolescent at UCLA. 

Dr. Fugilini is Professor, Department of Psychology and Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  His research focuses on the interaction between sociocultural experiences and biobehavioral development among adolescents from diverse ethnic, immigrant, and economic backgrounds, with a current focus on youth’s prosocial behavior, contributions to their social worlds, and sleep. As the Co-Director of the UCLA Center for the Developing Adolescent, Dr. Fuligni also works to translate and disseminate the science of adolescence to policymakers and practitioners to support efforts that promote the healthy development of diverse youth.


Jessi Gold, MD, MS – Chief Wellness Officer, University of Tennessee

Dr. Gold’s major leadership position as the Chief Wellness Officer for the University of Tennessee encompasses 5 campuses across the state and includes over 59,000 students and 19,00 faculty and staff.  Dr. Gold is also Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Health Science. She works clinically as an outpatient psychiatrist at student health, writes and is a regular expert in the media on mental health and is a social media influencer. She is the author of the soon to be launched book, How Do You Feel- One Doctor's Search for Humanity in Medicine and has been featured in, among others, The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, PBS NewsHour, The Washington Post, and SELF. Dr. Gold is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. and M.S in Anthropology, the Yale School of Medicine, and Stanford University Department of Psychiatry, where she served as chief resident. 


Jeff Morrow - Director of College Counseling, Oaks Christian School; Former President, Western Association of College Admission Counseling; College Admissions Consultant

Jeff Morrow came to Southern California in 1991 to attend Pepperdine University. He received his BA in Political Science in 1995 and a master's in education in 1996.  Subsequently, he taught Performing Arts, History, and coached basketball until he returned to his Alma Mater in 1997 where he spent the next 3 years traveling throughout the United States as Director of Church relations and then four additional years as a manager and Associate Director of the Admission Office at Pepperdine.  Jeff came to Oaks Christian in 2003 and was promoted to Director of College Counseling in 2009.  He has also been on the faculty of the English Department, teaching Modern American Literature.  His involvement as a member of his professional organization has allowed him to be a lobbyist for educational concerns in both Sacramento and Washing DC, and he has served on the board of the Western Association of College Counseling as chair of government relations.  Jeff was elected President of the Western Association of College Admissions Counseling.  As he nears the end of his second decade in admission and counseling, he considers this his life’s work. 


Avani Desai – Rising junior at USC 

Before attending USC, Avani studied Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C.  Avani attended Palisades Charter High School where she participated in many clubs, played girls lacrosse, was involved in theatre and was a member and club president of Youth and Government, and the President of the Palisades Ambassadors, a program developed to help the greater Los Angeles area through service work. While she loved her high school experience, she felt pressured by her surrounding community to excel at a young age, as well as  stereotypes that often defined her because of her heritage as a half-Indian young woman growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood.

To watch videos of our past Open Mind programs, please visit our YouTube Channel

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