Dear Amy:

I am a 17-year-old rising senior in high school and starting to worry about college admissions.

My high school career hasn't been the easiest. I've had to battle with an eating disorder, major depression and many more family issues that have affected my grades tremendously. I am finally recovering and feeling great, but because colleges do not take such events into account, I'm worried that I won't be accepted anywhere.

I am an intelligent perfectionist who never dreamed of attending a community college, but am I doomed to do so? It wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would be a major disappointment.

I've gone through so much, and I'm finally ready to live my life the way I want to. But will I be able to?


First, you need to re-educate yourself about community colleges. These two-year institutions are a valuable part of your higher-education options. Community colleges have given so many intelligent, perfectionist, college-bound students an ideal start, and admissions officers of four-year colleges know that graduates of community colleges are mature, hardworking and extremely motivated students.

We are so fortunate in this country to have institutions of higher learning for every possible educational background and learning style. After you do some research, you will see that you have more options than you imagine.

Your research should start with the book "Colleges that Change Lives: 40 Schools You Should Know About Even If You're Not a Straight-A Student," by Loren Pope (Penguin, $15 paperback). In his extensive profiles of some lesser-known colleges, Pope demonstrates that there truly is a school for every student. Reading about these inspiring institutions made me want to go through the admissions process all over again.

Dear Amy:

Recently my roommate's boyfriend of six years verbally threatened her and shoved her, bruising her. He says he does not remember the incident because he was drunk at the time, that he is sorry and that it will never happen again. His actions really frightened her, and his apology was not sufficient for her to move on. She asked me what to do because I am very close to both of them, but I think that precisely for that reason it's hard for me to advise her. If this were anyone else, I'd tell her to get out as fast as she can. But I have a history with these two, and they have a much longer history with each other. I suggested counseling, but my roommate does not think a stranger will understand the situation.

What complicates this further is that each of their mothers suffered physical abuse at the hands of their fathers. Could you offer guidance?


People who are in abusive relationships often justify their reluctance to get help by saying that a stranger couldn't possibly understand their situation.

Friends and family of people who are being abused often justify their passivity by saying that they have too much history with the victim and the perpetrator to interfere.

Well, I'm a stranger and I don't have a personal stake in keeping this couple together, so I'm going to grab my megaphone and tell you to get going. Encourage and empower your friend. Urge her to get help.

I realize that you and your friend think that her story is unique, but domestic violence hotlines are ringing with stories exactly like hers. She is a victim of domestic violence.

I hope you'll take a leading hand and tell her that she is at risk. Her boyfriend is also at risk. If he is a violent, blackout drunk, he needs help, too.

Encourage your friend to call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233 (SAFE). A counselor will connect her with local services, which are free and confidential.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.