Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I want to go back to school and get my bachelor's degree. I think it will help me to earn more money in my field. When I tell my family and friends about my dream, they laugh at me and don’t seem to take me seriously.

All of the adults in my life went to traditional universities and got degrees back when they were younger. I am a 30-year-old woman, and I am thinking of getting an online degree so that I can go to school and keep working at the same time. They claim that these types of degrees are not real and are a waste of time. How can I get them to be supportive of my dream? -- Degree, Columbus, Ohio

DEAR DEGREE: Stay focused on your goals, and do your best not to let your family’s questions dissuade you. Do research on each of the schools you are considering. Find out who some of the prominent graduates are as well as what fields they enter upon graduation. Check to see if the school is accredited, how long it has been operational and what types of classes are offered. Many schools offer online classes these days, even Ivy League schools. Find what works for you, and then tell your family after you are enrolled and on your way.

Reader Tired of Political Animosity

DEAR HARRIETTE: I thought by now that the political debates about the United States presidency would have waned. I tire of turning on the news and seeing report after report about what one side believes or the other.

I won’t lie. I am a Democrat, and I did not support the current president. But every other time it seemed like people got past their personal views and at least sort of tried to support whoever was in office. I feel like there are plenty of things that I don’t like that are happening right now, but spewing hate doesn’t seem like the way to effect change.

Whenever I suggest to my friends that we say a prayer for the president or something else positive, they scoff at me and call me Pollyanna. I disagree. I was taught that the way to make things better is to be positive. What do you think? -- Neutral, Des Moines, Iowa

DEAR NEUTRAL: One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that love is the great healer. Through strength and love, people can support right action. Yes, collective prayer can be powerful. Praying for the good of the people and of the Earth is smart. That is not enough, though. You must take action, too. Know what you believe, and do your research. Figure out what policies you support and those that you oppose. Make your voice known. Get in there and express your opinions in one way or another -- through respectful letter-writing to the president, your members of Congress and your community. Become politically active as you cultivate a loving, respectful spirit. Make yourself the change you want to see in this world. Help to hold all elected officials accountable for their actions.

(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.)