Decisions are made by people every day. Each decision creates different effects that influences not only the decision maker themselves, but also the people directly or indirectly related to them. For example, the famous Butterfly Effect claims that a subtle movement can eventually cause a huge hurricane is also because within the chain of reaction, different decisions are made by different people according to their different response towards the previous event occurred. In college, not only students but also professors make decisions, and these decisions could affect a student’s interest in a subject, the determination of their major, or even future career. Even so, professors still need to decide who they should keep from the waitlist. How should professors allocate the limited spots for waitlisted students? What are the factors that a professor should consider before making these decisions? Although this question is practical, it can still be solved by going through economic analysis processes.
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Imagine a college as a market, and students, the group of people that is investing to the market, are the producers. Although students are unlike normal products for consumers to choose depending on the brand they are familiar with, the advertisement different producers put up, or the materials that are contained within the product, there are factors available for professors to decide which students to choose: from their major, their interest in the class, and their attitude towards the class.
Using Professor Robinson’s class as an example, reasons for waitlist students could vary in a wide range. Some could be interested in this course without further determination, but are potential economy major students; some may have already declared their major; some may take this class as a request for another class; all of these reasons seems to be understandable, yet an order of priority must be set. First of all, economy major students should be primarily concerned. Adding an economy major student from waitlist to the course list means that Professor Robinson pays the least opportunity cost-the student is interested in the class, won’t drop after the first few sessions, their attitude is guaranteed, which means they will pay attention to whatever Professor Robinson says and give response. At this point, the “college market” achieves equilibrium, where the students’ investment completely turns into knowledge, and Professor Robinson will not waste any word he says. The secondary choice for Professor Robinson should be those who are taking this class for a pre requisite. By taking these students, the opportunity cost that Professor Robinson has to pay is slightly lower than by taking economy major students. Although their primary interest may not be in economy, for their future study what they are learning in this class is the footstone, which is fundamental. Unlike major students, however, though these students’ attitude can be guaranteed, because of possibility of lacking in interest in this class, what Professor Robinson says may not fully transform into knowledge for them to absorb. In this case, the demand from Professor Robinson to the students is high, yet the supply of knowledge that students can reflect is low. At this point the position on a demand-supply curve graph is to the left of the equilibrium point. Also, the college market cannot move to the right of equilibrium point. The last choice for Professor Robinson should be anyone who is simply interested in this class or trying to fulfill their graduation requirement. Waitlist spots are scarce, and just by showing interest or choosing this class from all kinds of options that can also fill the requirement does not make sufficient reasons for the professor to add a name from waitlist to course list. By taking each one of this kind of student in, Professor Robinson’s opportunity cost is high-he could lose a future or current economy major student who would choose him as advisor, and the student he chooses has the possibility of dropping or not paying any attention to the class. Professor Robinson’s demand is high-he expects the student to absorb what he teaches, yet the supply from students is low-they are not producing knowledge from listening to the professor. So in this case, unless the student shows high interest in the class and chooses to talk to the professor several times to prove their determination, this group of student is the last choice for Professor Robinson.
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If graphing the demand and supply curve but change the titles into Professor Robinson and students, it is easy to see what kind of choices the professor should make to make his class efficient and productive. Although students are taking information from the professor now, which makes them seem like consumers, they are the one that are actually paying to get this knowledge and to reproduce them into other things useful in their career life. Managing waitlist must be done carefully to make sure the professor will be having an efficient class where whatever he teaches will be fully absorbed and understood, and students that holds real interests will not miss the chance of being a more productive supplier in the future.
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