Riebhoff: ‘This is Simpson, How may I help you?’


In my experience, your college education is the only time the customer is never right.

When you arrive for that first day of class, you are expected to follow the class policies outlined in the syllabus.

You are told when you have to be in class, when you have to turn in homework, what happens when you miss class and anything else the professor feels necessary to tell you.

All of things are expected as part of your education, something you are paying for.

I don’t recall Target giving me a list of expectations and requirements like when to use the TV I purchased, how often I can use my TV, what I should and should not watch on my TV and what happens if I don’t use it.

So why with my education? I’m the customer.

If I choose to spend a few grand on classes that I decide I don’t want to attend, that’s my prerogative and my fault when I lose out. Why am I getting told how to use what I paid for?  

The same goes for Writing Competency II. Why should I, as the graduating senior and customer for the last four years, prove to Simpson College that I have become a better writer? I paid them, shouldn’t that be their job?

Instead of me turning in four papers that “showcase” my writing and giving them a reflection on how my classes at Simpson have impacted my power at the keyboard, I think I should get a presentation from the college.

I suggest that at the end of my four years, the professors I have had during my time at Simpson get together and present to me why the college deserves the roughly $40,000 I will now be indebted with. I think they should show me what they’ve taught me and why it’s important.

I would gladly sit down with a panel of my professors and hear from them what they have done to prepare me for the “real world”, and if at the end of the presentation I don’t quite feel they’ve delivered on what they’ve promised I’m refunded a portion of my tuition.

After all, most businesses offer refunds or exchanges if you aren’t completely satisfied with their service or product.  

I’m not saying that Simpson provides a poor product or service; I’m just saying that I feel we sometimes get a bit backwards and forget who the customer is.

For instance, in a meeting earlier this semester, I heard a professor say “I don’t want to do that, that’s too much work. Have the students do it.” I’m sorry. Who’s paying for the education? Why should I be charged with making sure the college properly evaluates itself in accordance with a new curriculum?

So, my proposition to Simpson to allow for better “customer satisfaction” would be to first get rid of attendance policies.

I’m paying for the class, if I want to go, I’ll show up. If I don’t, I’m the one ripping myself off.

And get rid of Writing Competency II (this will be eliminated as part of the new curriculum) and anything similar to it.

Instead, have professors provide the student with an argument on how Simpson has done its job and how I am now prepared to enter the real world.

I feel that if Simpson took a look at these two options, its customers would be a little happier and a little closer to “being right.”