Dreams are dashed by academic abuse

Dear Amy: My dream is to be a medical researcher. I have devoted my life to this goal, entering a Ph.D. program straight out of college.

Unfortunately, my supervising professor abused me, and I felt I had no choice but to leave the program for my health and safety.

I am resilient and determined to make a difference.

I have been working entry-level positions in the field, but I need a Ph.D. for the roles I want most. Five years after leaving, I am applying to grad school again.

I have to address my previous Ph.D. program in the application. My history is suspicious and potentially disqualifying for admission if not addressed upfront.

If I don’t explain why I left the program, I look like I’m hiding something.

I have to explain it, but tactfully. How do I explain my past without scaring off schools or leaving them guessing?

— Don’t know what to do

Dear Don’t know: I think an appropriate way to account for your years away is to disclose that you chose to leave your academic program (not that you were chased out): “My program was a bad fit, and I withdrew before completing my degree. I realized during my time away that I am determined and so passionate about this area of research. All of my choices point toward re-entering the field and completing my Ph.D.”

This accounts for your time away, and also cracks the door open for further explanation, if it is required. I agree with you that being circumspect is wisest.

Always pivot toward your strengths. You’ve gained a lot during your time away from the classroom — and now you need to convey that you are ready to return.

Dear Amy: When my husband and I stay at a hotel, I always leave a daily tip for the person who cleans our room; this includes on the day of our departure from the establishment.

My husband does not think that I should tip on the last day, because “the room is being cleaned for someone else.” I disagree, as the cleaning person is still tidying up after us even if we are leaving. To me, this only seems fair.

I told husband that I would “Ask Amy.”

Is my husband correct on this?

— Fair Tipper on Cape Cod

Dear Fair Tipper: Your husband’s logic seems like a simple justification for shorting a service worker. A cleaner isn’t only cleaning up “for” someone else, but “after” you.

Think of it this way: You don’t tip the cleaning staff when you first check in, because they haven’t had the joy of cleaning up after you, yet.

You should leave a tip for the cleaning staff daily after each night of your stay, including your last day before you check out. Tipping each day ensures that the person who actually cleaned your room that day receives your thanks.

Any time cleaners have to clean up “after” you, their work should be recognized with gratitude. Hotel cleaners are very hard-working — usually women — and often first-generation immigrants. Hotel room cleaning is extremely physically demanding, and in many cases how your room is maintained is the first line of a guest’s review of the property.

Dear Amy: I felt you were way too lenient in your answer to “Co-Pilot,” whose husband insisted on driving and insisted on texting while driving.

You suggested that she refuse to ride with him on longer trips.

I suggest that she refuse to ride with him at all.

— Upset

Dear Upset: Scores of readers responded: Nobody (including me) wants to share the road with this jerk.