College Students as Customers

In "Fail Your Customers," James Taranto revives the perpetual college student whine of "students are customers, and the customer is always right, and so I should get an A."  Taranto goes off the rails when he states

If students have a sense of entitlement, it is a sense best captured in
that old saying: The customer is always right. They’re spending tens of
thousands of dollars to get a degree so they can go out and find a job,
and they’re working hard on their assignments to boot–you’re darn
right they feel entitled to good grades!

Professors, quite understandably, see it differently. To the best of
them, their calling is to impart knowledge and intellectual refinement.
The degree is merely a symbol. The real "product" that colleges produce
is educated young people.

Intellectual refinement, my a$$.  Taranto is correct in stating that the goal is a degree that leads to a job, but at least in my state, employers expect degree holders to be competent to DO the job, not just get hired.  That means that when they were students, those degree holders should have learned the facts, concepts, techniques, and skills needed to perform at the entry level for their job.  That doesn’t happen if a student is too feckless to do the readings, do the homework, learn basic computing skills, write clearly and cogently, show up on time for class, and not embarrass himself on written examinations.

My (better) model for college-as-a-service-business is that of a personal trainer.  I can provide you with a course of training in statistics that will give you a set of skills.  However, you only acquire those skills by doing all your workouts homeworks, readings, lectures, and projects.  Blaming me if you end up puny and overweight clueless at the end of the semester is pointless, if you haven’t even shown up to the gym class.


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