Our granddaughter Kiele, 17, is ending her junior year of high school. She wants to attend college and has plans to enter the medical field.

In preparation for her college enrollment, her parents have arranged for her to visit colleges and universities recently. Her visit to Duke was an eye-opener. She couldn't believe how beautiful the campus was and how expensive the tuition is.

During the next few months, Kiele and her parents plan to visit a number of other schools. They are well-organized and know which schools offer her chosen major. They also keep track of the school's soccer team, since Kiele is on the varsity team at her high school. Whether she will get to play in college is still up in the air.

People who know me know that education is extremely important to me. I spent years teaching and administrating in public schools. A big part of my job was helping kids find their way.

One thing I learned early in my career: College is not for everyone. High school graduates have many options. But even though college is not for everyone, everyone needs an education.

It is a proven fact that college graduates have more lifetime income than non-college grads. But I would qualify that statement by adding "SOME" in front of "non-college grads."

I know a college graduate who is presently waiting on tables and making minimum wage along with tips. I also know a college graduate who has had to change jobs five times in the past 25 years and is presently starting at base wage once again.

I also know a high school graduate who, through perseverance and hard work, started his own business and is now wealthy and secure. As a matter of fact, I also know some high school dropouts who have good income from hard work and vocational training.

If your child wants to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher or engineer, chances are good that he will be able to spend 30 or more years of active work in his chosen field. Money is usually good in those professions.

One word of warning: If your child studies to be a music, fine arts or foreign language teacher, someday the school board may vote to cut staff. And, believe me, it isn't the English or math teacher who will get furloughed. Subjects considered as "extra" are usually the first to be cut.

I have faith that Kiele will do well in college and manage to achieve her goals. She is a hard-working student who loves to read. To me, that's half the battle. The other half is motivation. She has a lot of that, too.

Just because many people think that a four-year college degree is an automatic passport to success and wealth doesn't make it so. The education that you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on might just end up being irrelevant and inadequate. The world changes at a fast pace.

The key to success is flexibility. You should be able to change if your job changes. If the job disappears, get retrained. Sometimes that means starting at the bottom again and working your way up the ladder with hard work and perseverance.

As our granddaughter chooses a college and begins her journey there, the entire family will be supportive. All of us know the importance of a good education, no matter how it is achieved.

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her email address: jsmith1313@cfl.rr.com, or in care of this newspaper.