Death to the “customer” paradigm

Today on Slate, I explain why college students are not customers. Although I am an opinion journalist, this is not an opinion. It’s a fact.

If given the benefit of the doubt, these assertions have some merit: College today is far too expensive. But let’s leave aside the fact that ballooning tuition does not, I repeat, does not, go to professors’ imaginary $200,000 salaries. Faculty are by and large co-victims, along with students, in the cratering of the American university system. Scaring the beejezus out of professors is largely redundant, and the GOP’s thirst for their blood is ideological.

But college students are not customers. That analogy needs to die. It needs to be drowned in the world’s largest bathtub. It needs a George R.R. Martin–esque bloodbath of a demise.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Update: Thanks to readers like you (and perhaps a few Libertarian hate-readers), this article reached #1 on Slate’s Most Read. Thank you!

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3 thoughts on “Death to the “customer” paradigm

  1. When I was a college prof, I used to say that my customers are the faculty who teach later courses that depend on the students knowing the material of this one and the students’ future employers who want the students to be productive, or at least trainable, employees, and the State, which depends on the students being productive citizens after graduating. The students are my raw material at the start of the course and my product at the end. The disastrous model of student-as-customer is reinforced by the required course evaluation forms. I’d really prefer course evaluations to be completed a year after the end of the course and again after 2 years. I’m enjoying your take on higher education. Keep it up.


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