Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college student, and I have recently been doing extended research for a news article for my job. This will be the first major news article I’ve ever published. However, I just found out that someone else published an article that is almost exactly like the story I was trying to write, even interviewing many of the people I have been in the process of talking to. I have been doing months of prep work and background research, and I don’t want to abandon the work I’ve done, but I know that the article I publish will be less significant now that someone else in the field has published. This project has meant a lot to me, and I want the work I do to be significant. What should I do? -- Outpaced

DEAR OUTPACED: Schedule an appointment with your editor immediately and reveal what you have learned. Go over the extensive research you have conducted, and then share the article that you discovered. Point out the obvious: Someone else published an article that is frighteningly similar to what you have been researching, and you are not sure what to do. Ask for guidance.

From my perspective, I recommend that you push reset and consider a fresh angle to approach the subject matter. As disappointing as this may seem, what could be worse is to be accused of plagiarism when what actually happened is simply that the other writer finished the work first.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter just graduated from high school and is planning on going to college this fall, but the school hasn’t announced what they are going to do in the coming year. I can tell she is very worried and stressed out about her future. How do I console her during this time when I, too, am uncertain about what happens next? -- Going to College

DEAR GOING TO COLLEGE: Your daughter is in a predicament that thousands of college-bound students are finding themselves facing. Because of the unpredictability of the trajectory of COVID-19, educational institutions do not know if it is safe to have students clustered closely together for long periods of time. It is virtually impossible in most classroom settings for students to sit 6 feet apart. So many schools are considering staggering classroom hours, extending online learning into the fall and potentially incorporating a combination of both.

Now is the time for your daughter to be patient as she prepares to approach college without knowing all of the details of how she will begin. She may need to be more independent as a learner -- much like what she probably had to do at the end of high school when most students were practicing distance learning.

If your daughter feels driven to have a personal contact at the school, she can reach out to the administrative office to see if anyone is answering calls. Also, if she already knows her field of study, she may be able to reach someone in that department or school to see if she can make a meaningful connection with a professor or administrator who can give her insight as to what is unfolding behind the scenes.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)