I am in my senior year at Johnson & Wales University, my fourth year being an employee of this institution. If you think about it, I’m not paid to go to school, I go to school to learn and develop competencies to search for a career in the “real world”. But while I have been here, I have been marketing the school by simply stating its name. My actions have associated myself with the school contribute, although minimally, to the school’s reputation. On top of that, when I acquire a job, I have made a transition from one employer to another. Confused yet? Let’s look at it from the University’s standpoint as an employer first.
From the University’s Standpoint
JWU is what is defined as a “career university”, or an institution that focuses on moving students towards acquiring specific skill sets to focus on a career of their choice. This is different from a liberal arts college, which is not as focused or as dedicated to career development. At the most basic level, the institution is a firm whose service is education. However, according to this article’s scope, this is not necessarily true. The basic function of a career university such as JWU is to educate and empower its employees, the student body, and “sell” them to their clients. To us, those clients are our potential employers. In short, the employer is the university’s first and most important customer. For example, when the Providence campus opened in 1917, it started out as a junior college. As time went by and degrees became more important, the university adapted and became a two-year college, than a four-year college in 1988. Finding the need to expand into different markets (as any growing business should do) it gained University status when they opened a new campus in North Miami about 10 years ago. Just like any other business, if the university was unable to fill the needs of their target market, they would have not been as successful an institution as they are now.
The University’s Product Line
Internally, the university has to fulfill requirements in order to make revenue, not profit, since most private institutions are not-for-profit organizations. These activities can include the advertising of the university to new students and the collection of tuition dollars from new and returning students. Even the deceivingly simple activity of luring a student to JWU costs on average about $2000 per student, and this is spent whether or not that student is successfully enrolled. Kind of makes the average student feel better, at least the university was kind enough to spend a few bucks on you even before you got here. Other than advertising, the university also engages in the other basic activities of a business. These activities include such things as the institution of a career development program. How about those Career Conferences we all have to go to? Well, from the college’s point of view, now we’re not only employees, we’re also their product. When you walk around those asiles, employers as a whole evaluate the quality of the “product” coming out of the university. To some this is a no brainer, but if employers don’t hire any students, JWU has a huge problem on their hands.
Now all schools and all businesses, have quotas. Johnson & Wales is no exception. When people talk about the old phrase: “When all else fails, Johnson & Wales.”, they neglect to see the fact that the College of Business, our largest college, turned away a record number of students because of quota. On the other hand, the college we’re best known for, the Culinary College, is having a very hard time satisfying their quotas each year. This is mainly because of competition. Marketing certainly isn’t a problem. If I had a dime for every time somebody asked me if I was a cook, I’d have a small fortune. You can view these quotas parallel to the quotas that door-to-door salesmen need to fill on each run. If they don’t sell enough product, or they sell bad product, some critical action has to be taken.
From the Student’s Standpoint
Now this whole article isn’t meant to be dreary or to discourage one from attending a certain college. There are also benefits that the student, employee or “product” has by being a part of the institution. Just as any employer gives their workers benefits, Johnson & Wales gives students some benefits that might not be as obvious.