A clean, well-lit place to vent

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L.G. | Austin, TX | August 11, 2012

Thank you for tackling the subject of for-profit universities. Their corporate objectives have nothing to do with higher education and everything to do with maximizing profits at the expense of their students (to whom they lie and pander) and their employees (whom they train and treat like line cooks, with about the same pay rate). I say this as a former instructor of one of the larger, nationwide for-profit schools. Never mind the BS they feed their students during recruitment and academic or financial counseling; the curricula (at least in my field) are dated, keyed to the lowest common denominator, and inflexible. I know all too well that the systems at many traditional universities and community colleges need work, but oh man, these for-profit schools are a complete sham.

John Esche | Jersey City, NJ | August 11, 2012

Thank you so much for this week's very timely strips -- but especially today's "capper." I always try to point out to my students at a major "tech" university that, if we're lucky, we never stop learning, so we should always try to get the facts right in anything we write and expect it from others. My favorite example 'til now has been that it's 93 million miles to the sun (give or take) which I learned from Post Raisin Bran commercials and Superman comic books, not a science class!

Gordie | USA | August 11, 2012

Zipper's "sui generis" observation may seem comical and inconsistent, but students his age often reveal -- suddenly and surprisingly (although a little sooner) -- intellectual energy that no one ever observed in them before. Many readers here will have seen it happen often. Whether Zipper picked "sui generis" up from a video or a dictionary (which I doubt) doesn't matter. He's identified an elemental feature of the undergraduate: no two of them are alike. He may go on being a lazybones and underachiever -- but I don't think that suit fits him anymore.

There have been plenty of Zippers. Winston Churchill was at the bottom of his elementary school class, and Sir William Osler, the "Father of Modern Medicine", once let loose a flock of pigeons in a high school classroom. One of my own classmates either slept through or skipped most of his first year classes. But then he discovered Psychology 101 and it woke him right up. He's now a prof. I'm not expecting the world to unfold for Zipper, but I'd be surprised if we didn't see a change of attitude in him.

Mike | Brockton, MA | August 11, 2012

Thank you for educating people about the for-profit college industry. As a victim of two of them (and getting the wrong degree from one) and ending up over $93,000 in debt, I must say, these schools need to be off Federal money and not allowed to advertise as they do.

Kate King | College Station, TX | August 10, 2012

Although there are many bad for-profits out there (especially those professional schools!), I wish you could at least give a nod to the good ones, too. I teach at several that offer courses to working adults who can't afford to leave work for two years to get an MBA. We also have lots of military students who are working on their degrees while on deployment. These adults get a great business degree and knowledge that they are applying daily in their work. Love your strip!

Greg Cooper | St. Petersburg, FL | August 09, 2012

I've enjoyed your work since before I joined the Army in '77. I retired in '97 and am now working for the Dept of Veteran Affairs. I was especially interested in your sequence of strips concerning Traumatic Brain Injuries and Military Sexual Trauma, as I now see these veterans on a daily basis. Thank you for casting a bright unflinching light on their struggles.

Cynthia Buckley | Champaign-Urbana, IL | August 09, 2012

The strips dealing with on-line education are beyond brilliant. On behalf of professors around the country concerned with the well-bring of our students, thank you.

B. Meckel | Cape Cod, MA | August 09, 2012

My God! I can't believe it. There actually is a Strayer University and the CEO does get over $41 million.

Richard | Olympia, WA | August 09, 2012

We have to make these failure mills accountable. I'm disabled, so I see the same warm, fuzzy commercials these kids do. Except I've already earned the money I need to get by on (Social Security, Medicare, Union pensions). So I look with a jaundiced eye on something that touches the hope of millions. It's just another example of big money strip mining the rest of the population. I hope they can be held liable for the grief they cause.

Jeremy Dehn | Littleton, CO | August 08, 2012

Thanks for highlighting for-profit education. I taught at one of these shameful places, and have been trying to spread the word for some time now. Please keep up the great work!

Susan | Flagstaff, AZ | August 08, 2012

I worked at a for-profit on-line university here in Arizona. Some of the students enrolled in these institutions have figured out a way to manipulate the system to milk money from the federal aid program to use for purposes other than education. In one instance I remember repeated desperate calls from one student anxious for federal funds to be disbursed to her so that she could close on the purchase of a new home. When this issue was taken to the Controller she said that it was not the concern of the University, it was the Government's problem. Yet without a reporting system in place to documemt these abuses the taxpayers continue to fund these profit centers. They really don't care wheher or not a student graduates or is able to get a job with the the diploma they issue. Ig is all about the money. They go particularly hard after our service members. I feel that until the credits earned at these instutions can be transferred to traditional brick and morter schools their ability to receive federal funds should be cut off.

Camilla | Salt Lake City, UT | August 07, 2012

I work at a for-profit school, and while I'll be the first to agree that there are some shady things going on in the industry I want to point out that not all for-profit schools are the same. Since you shone a spotlight on graduation rates, across my school's several campuses, our graduation rates are never lower than 55%, and most are in the mid to high 60 percentile. An 18% graduation rate would end with our doors closed and our schools shut down. Again, I'm not defending all for-profit schools. As in any industry you're going to have your bad players who do unethical things. However, there are real educators who are concerned about students in the for-profit world. Just because we're making a profit doesn't mean we aren't also helping people and changing lives for the better.

Harold Tanner | Denton, TX | August 07, 2012

If Walden is really going to try to solve its problems like a real college or university, the first thing to do is hire a few more administrators and sign a multi-million dollar contract with a consulting firm to assess and re-brand the institution.

Jeff | Forest Park, IL | August 05, 2012

Mike's summer dream -- a masterstroke. I felt both apprehension and gleeful anticipation in the coming handoff, and you slammed me back to your reality. Amazing that after all these years that you can still spin such yarns and have us descend in Rapunzel fashion. Touche'.

Alain Gares | Toulouse, FRANCE | August 05, 2012

Thank you for your whole work, which has been keeping me happy and aware of the inner life of America for 30 years.

Helen Chicoine | Westwood, MA | August 05, 2012

Thank God this week's storyline was only a daydream. The thought of you turning the strip over to Alex or anybody else was giving me nightmares. Stay the course!

K.N. | CALIFORNIA | August 04, 2012

I just want to thank you for your portrayal of Alex and her husband. I don't know who you are basing these characters on, but you've got some stuff right on. For my partner, four years out of the military, the war goes on. Just because he isn't in it anymore doesn't mean that it's stopped for him. And because it's always here with him, it's always here for me. Every night he returns to a battlefield in his dreams. Things that are normal and ordinary for me, like planes and helicopters, send him inexorably into a heightened state of anxiety. So much of the rhetoric around the war and the military reduces people to numbers, to abstracts. The people serving are "troops." There are "casualties." Thank you for continuing to show a character that is a former soldier as a human being. It seems to me that if the military acknowledged that the pressures of war and conflict were recognized as fundamentally damaging to humans, then no one would be able to make policy that sends humans into war. It's a big thing, I think, when the soldiers recognize that the system they are contracted to is insane. It's a difficult task to spotlight the insanity, and an even harder one to try to heal it. How we move forward from here, I don't know. But thank you for keeping it real. Yours is the only portrayal of vets and their communities that feels authentic.

Thomas Taggart | Asheville, NC | August 04, 2012

You are taking us into new territory. Very intriguing.

Medicvet | Tulsa, OK | August 03, 2012

I just want to say I love the entire "dropping the fourth wall," as they say in TV phraseleogy, and I'm only using that expression because I have no idea what you would call it in the comic strip world.

Anna | Vancouver, CANADA | August 03, 2012

Wait... You aren't really phasing out all the characters over 40, are you? I learned late 20th century American history through them! Seriously, I'll beg if necessary.