Excuses, accusations and explanations abound for why there are minority students who can graduate from high school but do not succeed in college ("Unequal outcomes," Aug. 19).

Some of the many reasons I have read include inferior public school teachers, poor curriculum, old textbooks, racial bias, bad neighborhoods, lack of two-parent family, school dress, mixed-gender classrooms and on and on. Maybe some of these are legitimate, but one reason that is not discussed is whether students want to be in college in the first place.

It seems to me there is too much pressure to attend an academic college rather than to look at alternatives such as trade schools, art schools, music schools and auto repair schools that could better meet the student's aptitude and skills. This pressure does not just apply to minority students but to students of all races maturing into adulthood. Why not promote education paths in our public schools that are different from attending college?

I personally know smart college graduates who do not know what end of a screwdriver to use. Or they look for left-handed hammers. I also know high school graduates who never went to or finished college yet are very socially and economically successful. Some started their own businesses and others found successful work using their hands and other skills in fields where a college degree is not required.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder who quit Harvard University in his junior year to concentrate on his business pursuits, is an example of not needing college to gain success. Although I think no one would suggest that Mr. Gates would not have graduated, he did plant the message that college is not necessary for someone to become successful.

I suspect that the non-college notion for success did not set well with most college presidents. After all, college is in the money-making business and academic managers have been very successful at sending the message that unless you attend college you can't realize your highest potential level of earnings.

I say, balderdash! Our public schools have downplayed and maybe inadvertently opposed any suggestion that a person can have a successful career with a college degree. Public school administrators are unable to recognize that not all people's brains are wired for academic learning. So with their one-size-fits-all mindset, no alternative programs are promoted to the students that may want to have a choice. That needs to change.

Ron Wirsing, Havre de Grace