Bloom off the rose of daughter's grad school

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My daughter, who was a late bloomer, entered into a serious relationship with "Sam" at a school out of state last year when they were both seniors. They applied to a variety of grad schools (separately and together), but were only mutually accepted by one school in his home state. She could have gone to another school in another state with a free ride, but she chose to stay with him and doubled her student loans to do so. We warned her of the consequences if they break up, but were assured that was never going to happen. Of course, shortly after school started, it did. Now, she feels trapped at a school she never wanted to go to with a debt she feels stupid to have taken on, and feels "broken." She pines for the boy, as it was her fault they broke up. At home for winter break, she cries all the time. We've had talks with her, but I'm at a loss for what to do.--Brokenhearted Father

DEAR FATHER: Envelope your daughter in your family embrace while she is with you. Making the kind of choice she made is common at her age, but emphasize to her that any choice she makes can be mitigated through her efforts.

She can heal from this breakup, but first she needs to rediscover herself. Help her explore those things about her school that are positive and urge her to see out the year there in order to give this experience meaning beyond the boyfriend. Let her know that you will help her figure out her next step (including transfer).

Encourage her to get together with hometown friends. Commiserate by sharing your own similar experiences (if you have them), so she won't feel alone. She is not a victim, and this was not her fault. This is life.

If your daughter doesn't seem to pull out of this, take her depression and despair seriously. If she ruminates excessively and you become alarmed, make an appointment with a local therapist, and -- no matter what -- she should check in with her school's counseling center when she returns to campus.