You may recall that I recently posted a bit of information about Strayer University’s efforts at getting my dog, Pete, to apply to one of their degree programs. You may also recall that in addition to being a dog, one other obstacle standing between Pete and his lifelong dream of earning a degree is that his life turned out not to be long enough to see his dream come true. Sadly, he passed away a little over a year ago.
But now the saga has another twist:
This weekend, my wife and I had the privilege of attending my cousin’s wedding. The bride (my cousin) was glowing, the groom was a charming gentleman, everyone had a lot of fun, and it was a great opportunity for two families who, for the most part, had never met to get to know each other. And get to know each other we did over the course of a lot of eating, drinking, and dancing (or something quite like it).
After the reception, the party continued at the hotel bar where I met the uncle of the groom. He mentioned that he worked at a university in the Washington DC area. As an educator myself, I was curious to hear more, so I asked which university.
The answer: Strayer.
On top of that, he said that he works in the Office of Admissions.
I paused for a moment, wondering if I should mention Pete.
I mentioned Pete.
“You know,” I said. “My dog got a letter from Strayer a few weeks ago asking him to apply.”
“That happens sometimes,” the man said.
“He died about a year ago,” I said.
The man nodded and said his office got a lot of phone calls from people with similar complaints — letters going to elderly relatives in nursing homes, for example, asking if they’d be interested in furthering their careers by going to Strayer.
I asked why that happened.
The problem, he said, was that Strayer works with an outside marketing firm to reach out to potential students. It was the firm, in other words, and not Strayer’s Office of Admissions who extended an invitation to Pete to apply to one of the university’s degree programs.
So it seems I owe the Strayer University Office of Admissions an apology.
Moreover, the gentleman I spoke to was a very nice guy, and it turned out that we have a lot of the same concerns when it comes to higher education. We’re both distressed by the decline in reading and writing skills we see among incoming freshmen, and we both worry a lot about retention rates among matriculating students. In other words, we really want to see students who apply and are accepted into degree programs carry through with their course of study all the way to graduation.
And there it was: two families coming together and two distinct approaches to education finding some degree of accord, both on the same day.
In the end, I suppose, we all have more in common than we tend to think.