Archive for Saturday, May 18, 2013

Simons’ Saturday Column: How does KU rank in customer satisfaction?

May 18, 2013


This is a very special weekend in Lawrence as thousands of students from around the country and abroad will be participating in commencement activities at Kansas University.

Thousands of parents and friends of these students will be in town to watch the graduates stroll down Campanile Hill into Memorial Stadium to receive their diplomas.

It is an emotional time in many ways.

Families have sacrificed, saved, and gone into debt to help fund their sons’ or daughters’ years on Mount Oread. Many students, a good percentage of the student body, have held jobs while going to school to help pay for their college education, along with their living expenses. Others have enjoyed relatively stress-free years as students, with mother and dad paying most of the bills.

Numerous families will be so proud to see the first member of their family receive a college degree.

A large number, probably the majority of the men and women receiving degrees, as well as their parents and maybe their spouses, are wondering what’s the next chapter. Do these graduates have firm job offers? If not, what are the chances of finding a job that ties in with the academic schooling they have received while a KU student?

Have their years on Mount Oread prepared them well for a successful career? Have various officials, deans, schools, advisers, etc., helped them make contact with possible employers?

U.S. News and World Report magazine provides a thorough and deep survey of American universities, ranking them on various yardsticks.

Now at graduation time, it would be interesting to know how graduating students, their parents and even faculty members would grade their respective universities.

How does KU rank in the eyes of its students? Has it measured up to what they expected when, as high school seniors, they selected KU, perhaps over other schools such as nearby Kansas State, Missouri or some other?

Millions of dollars have been paid in tuition and many more millions on living expenses by those who have spent years on Mount Oread prior to Sunday’s graduation exercises. Do the students and their parents think they got their money’s worth?

What yardsticks should be used to judge the excellence, effectiveness or other qualities of a university in the eyes of a student or a parent? In college sports such as KU basketball, there are post-season tournaments to determine the best teams. If such a competition to judge quality measures were held among universities — perhaps, for example, among schools within an athletic conference and then on a national basis — how would KU fare?

Would KU win the conference championship on student-parent satisfaction? How about a national title? Would KU make it into the “Sweet 16,” or perhaps the Final Four? Or would KU not make it out of the first or second round as has been the case occasionally with the Jayhawk basketball team?

What measurements might be considered: excellence and stimulation of the faculty, costs, academic skills of fellow students, facilities, availability of scholarships, the level of counseling and/or advising by faculty, help in developing employment opportunities following graduation; non-academic clubs and organizations, lifestyle, housing opportunities, leadership by the school’s administration and the environment and facilities of the host city?

Again, using athletic competition as a model, there are similar factors that play a significant role in determining winners and runner-ups: the excellence of the head coach and assistant coaches, recruiting skills, facilities, tradition, student and administration support and private fiscal support.

KU is an excellent state-assisted school but it has serious competition with many other excellent — and some truly superior — universities. Customer satisfaction is extremely important, and that is why it would be interesting to know how graduating students and their parents would grade the institution. Also, in their opinion, what is needed to make KU an even better, more effective and more attractive university?

KU’s leaders, those serving on the Kansas Board of Regents, university alumni and friends and Kansas legislators cannot be complacent and rest on past laurels. The competition is not resting, and the KU chancellor and academic team need to be just as aggressive and committed to excellence and winning as the KU basketball teams under the leadership of recent coaches Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self.

KU graduates should have the feeling they are well prepared and well-conditioned, winners, champions — and ready to take on all comers as they walk down Campanile Hill. It also would be nice if they had solid jobs lined up after they take a short break from years of classwork.


George_Braziller 5 years, 1 month ago

I graduated from KU in 1985. If I had it to do over again I would have pursued my degree from a different university. Even then it didn't live up to the reputation it thought and wanted to believe it had.

Homey 5 years, 1 month ago

People put their treasure where their heart lies. The success of KU Endowment is one measure of satisfaction with KU.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 1 month ago

KU will always be hampered in this regard by the lazy economy and lack of opportunity for good jobs in the region.

Our legislature is trying to ensure that anyone interested in good schools, an educated work-force, a pro-science and technology outlook, and a good economy will stay away.

These are the people who start new companies and create new high-paying jobs, and the Governor and legislature are doing all they can to keep these people away.

So, if KU does not fare well in job placement, it is in part because of the business climate in Kansas that the Governor and legislature have created.

squawkhawk 5 years, 1 month ago

My daughter will graduate from KU in December and I'd rate her overall experience to be no higher than a 6 out of 10. Beginning with admission and enrollment we started second guessing her decision to go to KU. And quite honestly, the only reason she did go to KU instead of KSU was to be closer to her boyfriend. For the most part we have been very disappointed will the prevailing lack of help and initiative on the part of KU employees. My daughter was never a priority and everyone seemed disinterested or put off whenever she needed any kind of assistance. Other than a handful of professors and intructors her experience has been very disappointing. I will give KU high marks in one area...asking for money!

ramjet13 5 years, 1 month ago

Our son graduates from high school this month and after an exhaustive amount of research decided to attend Dartmouth College. I'm a KU grad and he has been a dyed in the wool Jayhawk forever. He attended lots of basketball and academic camps at KU growing up, so this is not an I hate KU rant. However, when comparing 4 year graduation rates, student satisfaction with professors, (Dartmouth was rated 1st again this year) responsiveness from the admission's office, contact with his chosen department chair, who has written personal notes to him on two different occasions, we and mainly my son decided on Dartmouth. He made two separate visits to Dartmouth and both were well received in terms of attention to his concerns and answering all of our questions. On his last visit he asked to observe a class and not only was he allowed to do so but asked by the professor to participate in the problem and discuss the results with the rest of the class. Now I know that Dartmouth with only 4,000 students can do things on a level KU cannot. But as a KU grad I'm sad to see one of our bright kids (scored 35 out of 36 on the ACT) leave the state and probably not return. I don't blame KU, but if we as Kansas don't get ahold of higher education we are going to witness a big brain drain. If the politicians want to grow the economy then invest in higher education. As a 5th generation Kansan I've always been proud of our schools and the positive light they have always shown on us. But when the State of Kansas only provides an average of 30% to our state supported schools then we can only go one way and that is down in quality and higher in cost to the students.

voevoda 5 years, 1 month ago

If you are going to make an extended comparison between KU academics and KU athletics, Mr. Simons, keep in mind just who the students are. They aren't the fans, rooting for victorious season. They aren't "consumers." They are the players. They are the ones who have to perform well if the team KU is going to succeed. Having good coaches is important. So is having good recruiters and good facilities. But if the players don't have natural talent that they have honed through pre-university training, and they don't attend practice regularly, and they don't take full advantage of the guidance their coaches provide, and instead they expend their time on recreational activities, then they aren't going to succeed. Before the students grade KU, they need to grade themselves. If they put out only a "C" effort, then they don't have any grounds for complaining that KU didn't live up to their expectations.

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