Im a hard-nosed pessimist. I grew up believing that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I never take a telemarketers call (if they cant send me information in the mail, it must be a scam to steal my identity). I never sign up for special offers (nothing in life is ever free). And I wont be accepting that winning prize vacation to your new resort (I wont even open the envelope if I dont recognize the sender).

My husband, on the other hand, is NOTHING like me. He always sees the good in people (even in our neighbor who raises pit bulls). He really believes that someday well have it all (in other words well live on the beach and hell golf every day). And, in stark contrast to me, hes utterly fearless (you should see his retirement portfolio).

With this in mind, I consider it my wifely duty to be the force that grounds my husband. So, Im sure you can easily visualize the roll of my eyes and the slow-motion, sideways nod of my head when Mr. Anything-Is-Possible announced that he would like to go back to school. To law school, in particular, to become an environmental attorney andget thisopen his own consulting firm.

Um, honey, I said with all the restraint I could muster, the last time I checked, you had two young children and were pushing 40. I think your window has closed.

And, with that, I assumed the conversation was closed as well.

No such luck.

Over the following weeks, however, my husband really did surprise me. At first, I thought his seemingly starry-eyed ambitions stemmed from some half-baked dream of saving the planet. He works as an environmental engineer and is always trying to reduce waste, cut emissions or save trees.

No, he promised, thats not it. 

Next, I thought maybe he was under the impression that all lawyers were handed country club memberships and a house on the hill immediately upon graduation.

Give me some creditthats not it either.

Then why, I asked, would you want to assume all that student debt just so you can get another degree in a field you already work in?

His answer: Youve got to spend money to make money. And, he added, this is a way to secure our future so were not at the mercy of our employers, particularly at times like these when the economy is failing.

This got me thinking about private practice optometry and the very tough decisions that young students face when they weigh their options and consider a future as an O.D. US News and World Report, again, ranked optometry as one of the 30 Best Careers. According to the report, the job outlook is strong and satisfaction is high, thanks in part to the ability to be your own boss as well as the professions prestige, relative to other careers.

Interestingly, many of the reader comments (the magazine publishes an online blog) focused on income vs. debt. Its no secret that many recent optometry school grads struggle with rising education costs. This, combined with the tremendous expense involved in starting a practice and todays tough lending market, can make the decision to attend an optometry program increasingly difficult. But, as my husband pointed out, it can be a very safe investment in our ever-changing world.

In my husbands defense, environmental issues will only gain more attention in the decades ahead. Similarly, students considering a career in optometry can clearly see that the nations population isnt getting any younger.

I know they say that after a few years of marriage you start to look alike. But, I didnt know you started to sound alike too. It appears that my husband is getting very good at talking me into things by presenting them in such a way that Ill actually listen. Hell make an excellent lawyer.

Vol. No: 146:02Issue: 2/15/2009