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Vocational Training or College Education?

April 07, 2002

Re "Pupils Shunted to Vocational Ed Fear It Can Derail College Dreams," March 27: Where is it etched in stone that students must go to college? Do you want us to help some students compete in the work force or pressure all of them to go to college?

Students in the cosmetology field can make up to $30 an hour, according to American Salon magazine's Green Book 2000. American Salon also indicated that the cosmetology field is one of the top entrepreneurial fields in the world. I am a product of the Regional Occupational Program cosmetology classes. I co-own my own salon and can make far more than $30 per hour.

Students may choose to make a steady $30 an hour rather than being paid on an inconsistent basis in another profession. Give our students credit. Many of them are smarter and savvier than your average adult.

So, I ask the readers, in that light, what would you choose? Students from Palisades to Fremont might actually choose cosmetology. If the whole story were given, the ROP vocational program would be applauded as giving some LAUSD students a leg up and not portrayed as "shunting" them off the college path.

Elizabeth Penuela

Career Advisor/

Cosmetology Instructor

Fremont High School

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My son, a sophomore in high school, is taking rigorous academic classes including chemistry, geometry, honors English and world history. Next year he has signed up for Advanced Placement chemistry, Algebra 2 and Advanced Placement U.S. history as well as an auto shop internship.

Right now he is not interested in going to college but is taking college prep classes to keep his options open. If, in the future, college admissions offices deny him entrance because of an auto shop class, they will have proved themselves shortsighted and narrow-minded. Learning a trade is not incompatible with a college education.

As our lives become more technologically sophisticated and we can no longer repair or maintain our cars, computers, DVD players, TVs, dishwashers or other tools, we'll require increasing numbers of trained, educated people to do the work for us. We'll need those people to run the businesses that provide those services. With some vision, vocational training is a useful and purposeful supplement to a college education rather than a stumbling block to getting that education.

Karen D. Hamstrom

Huntington Beach

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