Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Following Dreams May Mean Deferring Grad School

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am graduating in June, and my mother is hassling me about attending graduate school. She knows I really want to pursue my dream in fashion and have moved from home to another state to start my career. Since I moved about a year ago, I have taken on wonderful assignments and met interesting people, yet I have not gotten the "dream job." My mother feels I should move back home and attend graduate school, then pursue my passion. In her eyes, I will never make the money I want to make by doing dead-end jobs. I've expressed to her that while school is important, I have time and I'm thinking about my next move. However, that isn't good enough for her. Can you please advise me on how to address my mother without being cold? -- On the Precipice, Bronx, N.Y.

DEAR ON THE PRECIPICE: Congratulations on your graduation. This is a great accomplishment that you should pause to relish. Both you and your mother have good points. Many people do go directly to graduate school so that they can fortify their skills and position themselves for potentially higher-paying professional jobs. I value higher education, and I understand why your mother is urging you forward.

At the same time, I have witnessed many people take a few years to pursue their professional interests and figure out exactly what they want to do, then go to graduate school with a clear focus. Both approaches can work.

While you have not yet gotten your "dream job" -- an unlikely option for most people when they first start working -- if you choose not to go to graduate school, do your best to pursue employment in your field of interest so that you do not waste your time. Also, don't wait too long to go back to school. Earning money can make it tough to immerse yourself in education, especially if you have to give up your job to do it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: How do you address a stalking situation? I take my niece to school three times a week, and we usually take the same route every day. As of late, I have changed our route because I feel that someone is following us. As her uncle, I want to keep her safe. I have seen this guy when I walk her to school, when I'm coming home from work -- almost every day. There's something odd about him. After I dropped off my niece at her school, I bumped into the man at a newsstand, and I asked him why he was following me. He said he wanted to be friends. I told him no and walked away in disgust. I didn't know what to do. Should I have found a police officer to report my situation? -- I'm Watching You, Queens, N.Y.

DEAR I'M WATCHING YOU: You are wise to change your route regularly to protect your niece. By all means report your suspicions to the local police. Be sure that you lock your doors and windows at home. Consider getting a security system if you don't already have one. Make sure your friends and neighbors know your suspicion.