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Mark Edmundson: Student Customer Metaphor Essay

Does one ever find themselves feeling more like a customer rather than a student? If so, don’t think you are alone. Today more people are thinking about the so called “Student Customer” metaphor, and how it can have a huge impact on their future life and decisions. Mark Edmundson’s 2013 book “Why Teach? ” explores the real meaning of the metaphor, and argues how Colleges and Universities in the United States are only focusing on the financial aspect of life. In Edmundson’s introduction, He states “through the last decade of the twentieth century, American higher education changed”(Pg. 1).

Colleges and Universities somehow shifted their objectives from being driven on education and students to operating more like a business. They sought money, and a very prestigious name that would lure incoming students to them. Since the nineties, colleges and universities have seemed to be putting profits ahead of actual education and student success. Edmundson states that this may have started in the mid 60’s and 70’s when the American birthrate began to decline. When these kids where ready for college, there were simply not enough to supply the schools that had expanded to accommodate the baby boom opulation(Pg. 3).

As this began to happen, colleges and universities were thinking of ways to get money flowing. They could not have empty classes, dorms left vacant and professors not being paid. This sparked the idea of pursuing students much as businesses pursue customers. With that in place, Schools from all over began to strengthen their marketing departments. They were competing for that prestigious name and recognition that would make students want to enroll and stay enrolled. With a prestigious name and recognition, schools could compete with one anther all over the county. Edmundson also states that Universities were looking for future money.

That best students tend to become successful, and then (with luck) committed donors”(Pg. 4). This left a lot of people thinking about the “student-customer” metaphor. Students all over were asking themselves, am I just a customer? After being asked how they felt about the rising issue, students didn’t seem to care at all. Most were accustomed to the role before college. Since they were young, they had been targets for all sorts of advertisements. When colleges and universities began to address their needs, they fell hard into the customer roll hopping for expensive student centers, gyms, and everything in-between.

The schools had done their job. More students enrolled and profits out of this world. Most say that colleges and universities think of students as a number and dollar signs. This may be true to some level. At the end of the day, students are getting an education and not thinking twice about being a customer. (Pages 1-6) Edmundson’s introduction to “Why Teach? ” explores a few reasons on how universities are treating students as customers and not thinking twice. In our society, this is happening within more and more facilities other than schools.

Similar strategies could be deployed in our hospitals and with our favorite athletic teams. Starting off, Edmundson’s article makes perfect sense, because as a student, I can see the metaphor taking place first hand. Students understand that schools need to make money and profit to stay up and running. That schools are also competing with one another for our money. Universities could help students make relationships with their advisors or professors that could help them in class, or just show students that they are more than just a business. Schools need to show that they are there to help and want us to further ur education.

Colleges and Universities could also let the students know they care about them by throwing fun activities on campus, and contributing to student life. One of the reasons I picked Missouri Southern State University was because of how nice people were, the price wasn’t bad, and all the staff made me feel welcomed during my visit. All students look for that while trying to decide a college. Being a customer wouldn’t be bad because it makes me feel like I have so much more opportunities to pick the right college, but at the same time I don’t want to be another number.

Bigger schools like Division 1 universities might have more trouble with this because of how many schools they compete with, and the fact that they have more students enrolled. They don’t have the time to meet with every student and welcome them to campus. They do have the resources available to make the student life easier and better. I think at the end of this controversy, everything works out in the end. Outside of colleges and universities, this could also be true about many hospitals in America or around the world. With more and more hospitals being built, many can be competing with one another.

Hospitals can get help with their marketing departments just like most businesses do. The word “customer” is much more of a marketing term and is a product more or less of our generation. It implies shopping and, most importantly, customer service. I believe that in some cases, most For-Profit hospital goals are to make money that way the top executives can drive off in their expensive cars to their huge houses. Individuals already pay a huge price for this health care and would not want to be preferred as “just another customer”. Although this could be true, the customer metaphor could have dvantages.

In some cases, people might like being called a customer when it comes to healthcare. One might say that a customer has more rights and choices for treatments, and is not taken for granted. Hospitals can advertise just like colleges and universities to attract people in. I think myself would also like to be a customer at a hospital, because I know the hospital would do a good job to try and get me to choose them when I become ill again, or need medical attention. Along with school and hospitals, another example of the customer metaphor could be with athletic teams.

Athletic teams strive off marketing and really rely on the fans, or in other words, customers. They call us fans, but to them we are just another customer who will pay outrageous prices for a shirt or a beer at the ball park. Do athletic teams really care about fans, or do they just really want our money? We pay so much money for parking, the tickets to get in, and then for food at the venue. It is almost like they take advantage of us and just use our money. Athletic teams try so hard with the marketing mix to get our business, because they have so many more teams to compete with.

Athletic teams are n some way a huge business and do require a lot of money to operate. It makes one realize where this “customer metaphor” can really take place. Mark Edmundson’s 2013 book “Why Teach? ” explores the real meaning of the metaphor, and argues how Colleges and Universities in the United States are only focusing on the financial aspect of life. Not only could this be for school, but one could explore this general metaphor for hospitals and athletic teams. Are we really students, patients or fans? Or are we just customers with money that they want? It’s a question people would really want to know.

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