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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Supports the Value of Education." I started college right after high school, but gave it up to marry and have children. In my neighborhood in the 1960s, few women went to college at all.

After raising my family, I went back to college and graduated when I was 40. I now have a wonderful career, more satisfying than I ever dreamed. Completing my education was one of the greatest personal accomplishments of my life.

Both my boss and her boss do not have degrees. They are two of the smartest people I know and have a great deal of common sense in business. Nonetheless, my education has made me feel more confident and complete. It did not make me any better than anyone else. We are a team at work and complement each other.

Not all knowledge comes from books, and a degree is a degree -- not a license for a pompous attitude. -- BILLIE IN CINCINNATI

DEAR BILLIE: I am all for education, and no one has ever written to me to say he or she was sorry to have earned a college degree.

Success can be measured in many ways. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Regarding that letter on the value of education, "Supports" missed one extremely important fact. A degree, in and of itself, is not a "guarantee" a person will succeed.

Education is learning. In order to get ahead in this world, what has been learned must be put to productive use. This is true whether you're applying the study and persistence skills you used to make it through college, or whether you're applying that which you have learned.

"Supports" obtained a college degree, but apparently chooses to rely upon having the degree, as opposed to relying upon being able to apply the education. -- DENNIS B., VICTORVILLE, CALIF.

DEAR DENNIS: You're not the only person who had the same reaction to the writer's attitude, which came across as intellectual snobbery. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Supports the Value of Education" wrote that "Several ... upper-level managers ... frequently comment that education is 'overrated.'"

That caused me to recall the words of Rabbi Benzion C. Kaganoff: "Education which is simply intellectual taxidermy -- the scooping out of the mind and the stuffing in of facts -- that kind of education is worthless. The human mind is not a deep-freeze for storage; the human mind is a forge for production." -- ARTHUR H. PRINCE, PH.D., MEMPHIS, TENN.

DEAR ARTHUR: This is the first I've heard of the learned Rabbi Kaganoff -- but I think he was on to something.

DEAR ABBY: I am legally separated and have been living with my girlfriend since last February. I want to ask her to marry me. Is it OK to be engaged before my divorce is final? -- IN LOVE AGAIN

DEAR IN LOVE: No. I urge you to wait until the divorce is final to pop the question. Doing so before you are free would make you and your girlfriend the hottest gossip topic in town. Bide your time until you are single.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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