DEAR ABBY: Do you think every American child should get a four-year college degree? I keep meeting students who have a real talent and passion for other jobs -- military, cosmetology or skilled trades, such as Internet technology and carpentry -- but whose parents are furious at the suggestion they might not graduate from a four-year college.
It's a little-known fact that there is actually a shortage of skilled tradespeople these days. IT jobs pay well and are constantly in demand. As my grandmother used to say, "Everyone needs a plumber when the toilet's clogged." It distresses me to see so many parents disregard their kids' instincts about their skills and desired careers in favor of the "more schooling is always better" philosophy.
Graduating from college has been part of what we envision as the "American dream," but not every kid is going to be fulfilled after getting one of those degrees when the jobs that go with it don't materialize. If a child wants to go into the military or become a skilled tradesperson, parents should at least consider what they're suggesting. Because someone chooses a career path that isn't what a parent hoped for doesn't mean he or she can't be successful. -- ANN ARBOR READER
DEAR READER: I have had this discussion with many people over the years and I agree. While it is crucial that young people finish high school, not every child is intellectually inclined. Many have talents better-suited to the trades. A person with skill and drive can earn a good living as a plumber, electrician, tailor or in the food industry.
Some brilliant and successful people started but didn't finish college. Many of them are in the arts and technology fields. Economic realities being what they are today, parents should be flexible and sensitive to their children's aspirations on this subject.