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I reached a breaking point last week. It struck in the middle of class, a strange feeling of overwhelming frustration and hopelessness, sweeping over my slumped figure in the middle of a hopelessly boring and useless class. My folding chair could barely take the weight. Obviously, I had only one choice to preserve my mental sanity—leave, or mentally explode. The professor’s words echoed the closing door behind me: “Um, well, I suppose everyone’s opinion could be right…” I left disgusted, thinking that a better investment of an hour would have been watching TED online or listening to NPR’s Radiolab.
As a consumer in the U.S. capitalist society, I’ve always been indoctrinated by the mantra, “One’s customer is always right, and the purpose of a company is to make the customer happy.” Although this widely-circulated opinion does have shortcomings and limitations, the beauty of capitalism is that competition for customers increases product sophistication and process efficiency. Although the University of Colorado at Boulder is a far cry from a business, I am certainly a customer. I always wince after each tuition bill, and every day I vow to make the most of my college education. In capitalistic terms, this would be called, “Stretching one’s dollar,” or getting as much out of a product as possible.
Therefore, my anguished frustration with boring and ineffective classes should be perfectly understandable to both students and administration. Sadly, every student at CU has had “that class,” the one where every minute is torture because the professor is simply awful at teaching a relevant and compelling class. Sadly, horrible classes are usually not a consequence of poor teaching style, resulting rather from a professor’s ill-preparation or lack of conscientiousness for the student. A CU “customer” for three years, I have been highly satisfied with the majority of my classes. However, it is simply unacceptable that some professors be allowed to teach classes where students pass through having regurgitated information while learning absolutely nothing.
I’ve been told a million times that “college is what you make it.” Conversely, I cannot believe that my painful boredom in occasional classes stems from my lack of intellectual ability or personal motivation. Rather, I believe that the university does not hold professors to a high enough standard while teaching class. Some professors nobly go beyond the typical standard, and it is they who make college a highly rewarding and life-changing experience. Professor Dennis Van Gerven is a great example. Anyone attending a class taught by Van Gerven will attest to his ingenuity, hilarity and creativity in teaching cutting-edge and useful information. However, many other professors do not put forth enough time or energy to make class time worthwhile.
If students were treated as customers and were refunded for classes that were unsatisfactory and unacceptable, I believe some professors would conduct class in a radically different manner than currently practiced. Additionally, if the university was obliged to refund a student’s tuition because of an unsatisfactory and ineffective class, I believe that classes would be held to a higher level than currently expected.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Chelsea Komlo at Chelsea.firstname.lastname@example.org.