Baggage Check: A matter of degrees

Q: Is there any advice you can give a financially struggling parent whose daughter was accepted to a top university but won’t be able to foot the $50,000-a-year tuition bill? If I could put my kidney on eBay for a good price to cover her tuition, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Meet with financial aid advisers, guidance counselors, investment gurus and people who know a heck of a lot more about money than I do. Have your daughter check out every scholarship she might possibly qualify for (Granddaughters of Pinochle-Playing Half-Armenians, anyone?).

And keep an honest dialogue going with her. Let her know you take her feelings seriously, you truly want the best for her and you will try your hardest to make her dreams work. But you also need to help her realize that the “best” path doesn’t usually involve driving your family into the ground with financial stress in order to get a certain diploma, or letting her graduate with decades of debt. There are many schools that could be right for your daughter (schools whose acceptance letters hopefully have also graced your mailbox). Treating her feelings with respect will go even further than a kidney.

Q: I have a co-worker who insists on doing my job, not helpfully, but in a sneaky way. On our last project together, she withheld critical information. When the project seemed to fail, she miraculously used the information to save the day. My supervisor has a “house of cards” theory regarding our team: If we cannot see eye-to-eye as an organization, we will ultimately fail. This makes it hard to approach him regarding the situation because I may be viewed as a defector. Am I being too critical, or even paranoid?

If it’s too critical to be frustrated by someone stealing and sabotaging your work, then I’m curious about what workplace behavior would actually be deemed unacceptable.

So your supervisor believes that the workplace team is a delicate “house of cards.” Then he should most definitely be bothered by one of his employees coming at it with a leaf blower. You’ve got concrete and specific evidence of situations where she has hurt the team for her own gain. Use it. Conceptualize it not as you being victimized but as concern about future projects. I can’t imagine anything more in the interest of teamwork than that.