Thursday, April 12, 2012

Self-Funded Classes and Protests

Via Daniel Hamermesh at Freakonomics, here's a quote from an interesting article about self-funded classes:
Some faculty members and administrators countered that the students did not understand the plan. They said it would have offered some classes at higher prices, in addition to sections of the same courses at regular prices, simply giving students more options and freeing up space in the less expensive sections of popular classes. One teacher at the college told of one student who offered other students $300 to drop out of a class, so he could get the final credit he needed.
This excerpt reminded me of my first day of Introductory Spanish at Montana State University.  That quarter, there was excess demand for slots in introductory Spanish, so not everyone who wanted to take the class could take it.  One student needed the class to graduate, but did not register in time.  His attempted solution: just after the professor handed out the syllabus, the student interrupted the class, saying "I will pay anyone here $500 to drop the class right now, so I can add it.  I need this class to graduate."  No one in the class took him up on the offer.  After he left, the professor turned to us and said, "I guess everyone wants to be here."

On a separate note, the fact pricing additional course offerings is met with resistance and protest is something that the market design literature -- which is hot research right now -- has recognized, and attempts to address.  When market participants reject prices as a viable allocation mechanism, resources must be allocated in some way.  That's where market design can come in.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Tony. That is hilarious. Remembering my days as a freshmen, I am shocked nobody took him up on that $500 offer.


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