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Dear Gramps,

I really need advice and I don’t know where else to turn. It is a little bit of a long story, but please bear with me. I am a young newlywed, my wife and I have been married for 3 ½ months now and we are doing great! I am 23 years old and when I married I was still attending college.

Ever since I was a kid I have always dreamed of becoming a police officer. The problem was that my dad, who is a retired attorney now, looks down upon any type of blue collar work. He has always told me that I would be miserable as a police officer because the pay is low. So I decided to go to college and study business. After several semesters and a few internships, I realized this line of work wasn’t for me; but I continued because I was determined to finish what I had started.

Not long after I married, I told my wife about my passion to become a police officer and she was very supportive of the idea and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I told her that as soon as I finished college this summer I would look for employment at several police departments.
However things began to take a turn for the worse. My college classes were putting a lot of stress on me which in turn put a strain on our marriage. I was very moody and irritable and the relationship between my wife and me became rocky. I came to the point where I couldn’t take the stress anymore and I dropped all of my classes and began applying for police jobs. Since then my relationship with my wife has improved greatly and I have many promising job opportunities with a few police departments. I am not as stressed as I was and I feel much happier.

But at times I have some regrets about dropping out of college with only three classes left until I receive my bachelor’s degree. I don’t know where I should turn now. I can still become a police officer without a college degree, but should I go back and finish? I’m afraid if I do that I’ll encounter the same problems as I had earlier. Do you think I made the right choice in dropping out of my classes?
Also I’m afraid of telling my family about it. I fear how they’ll look down upon me and tell me how foolish I am for doing so. How can I tell them without them being disappointed in me? Please help me.





Dear Charles,

It is always commendable, and usually quite wise to seriously consider the counsel and the recommendations of one’s parents. However, there is a limit. You are an adult and it is your life. There is no point in producing lifelong misery for yourself and family in order to satisfy the aspirations of your parents.

Your father undoubtedly did what he wanted to do with his own career, and may have some artificially elevated concepts of white collar work. I agree with your wife. Follow your heart! You might tell your father that you appreciate his concern and his advise, but you have decided to follow your desires to go into law enforcement, because for you it is a much more meaningful career.

Your parents will no doubt disagree with your decision, and may be disappointed thereby, but it’s your life, not theirs. In truth, they are more interested in their own happiness (which undoubtedly includes as sense of pride over anticipated achievements of their son) than they are about your happiness. So you could follow their example and be more interested in your own happiness than you would be in theirs.

Now, concerning your college education. You are only three classes away from a bachelor’s degree. Whether you go into blue collar work or not, that bachelor’s degree is worth money. It doesn’t make any difference in what field your degree is in, if you are a college graduate you earn more money than if you are not. It would seem to me that a very prudent investment in your financial future would be to bite the bullet and get the degree. You and your wife will understand that your continued formal school will be only for a short while, and I would imagine that you would be able to tough it out. Then, with that degree in your pocket, you would please your parents, enhance your financial future, and be able to get on with your life.

In my case, many years ago, I got a bachelor and a master’s degree in atomic physics. I was hired as a research engineer in a large independent research institute in the Department of Semiconductor Materials and Devices. Up to that time I have never heard of the word, semiconductor. This was very shortly after the first transistor was developed by Shockley, Bardeen and Bratain, who received the Nobel prize for their development years later in 1956. In my entire technical career I never used any of the physics that I had learned in school, and very little of the math. But the discipline of study, of completing courses and meeting goals stood me in very good stead. I’m sure that if you finish your degree it will be the same with you. Best wishes for your success in whatever you determine to do.






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