Shopping period at the School of Management this semester has had to accommodate an increase in course demand from the growing student population.
This semester, 337 second-year students participated in the “bidding” process, a sharp increase from the 271 second-year students bidding last spring. For popular courses like “Competitive Strategy,” class demand is estimated through a process called the course bidding system, which operates in the form of an auction. Students are allocated a certain amount of points each semester, and they express the intensity of their preferences with the amount of points that they bid on each course. Second- and third-year students are allotted 500 points, while first-year students are only given 300.
“Demand has increased from what it’s been in the last couple of years because the incoming MBA class has grown in size each year, but we have also increased in capacity,” the SOM Associate Dean Anjani Jain said.
Jain added that the administration has had to add sections for many of the courses that were oversubscribed, and for the most popular courses the number has as much as tripled. In an email sent out to students last week, Jain wrote that the efforts to increase class capacity had been successful to the point that the capacity ended up exceeding student demand by about 60 percent.
Jain clarified to the News that the figure he referred to in the email was final demand based on actual enrollment, not initial demand through the bidding process. Many of the courses that are oversubscribed during bidding later fall below capacity after students shop classes and figure out their top priorities, he said.
Four students interviewed agreed that they found there was an initial overcrowding in several courses, but also said they were satisfied with the way administrators dealt with the situation.
Jeff Hong SOM ’15 said that this semester, there was definitely point inflation, meaning that students had to allocate more points to each class to demonstrate interest and could not bid on as many classes as in the past. This made the process more competitive, Hong added.
According to the SOM student portal, the most oversubscribed courses this semester include “Strategic Leadership across Sectors,” with 126 students bidding for 70 slots, “Interpersonal Dynamics,” with 50 students bidding for 27 slots and “Freakonomics” — a course about how economics affects everyday life — with 82 students bidding for 75 slots.
Alex Satvchenko SOM ’16, who said he who successfully bid into “Interpersonal Dynamics” this semester, said that many of the first-year students in the class had to bid nearly all of their points to enroll in the class. Because they are enrolled in the mandatory core Integrated Curriculum, first-year students have fewer space for electives, Satvchenko said. Therefore, he added, they have a smaller allotment of points, making the bidding process more competitive for them.
“Interpersonal Dynamics is about leadership development and personal growth, and it’s one of the most ‘expensive’ classes in the school [as it requires the allocation of many points],” he said. “But bidding for it doesn’t mean you can’t take other electives; it just means you have to limit your other choices to classes that aren’t oversubscribed.”
In spite of the general increase in class demand, students interviewed said they were ultimately happy with the way their schedules had worked out. Satvchenko said that although he originally expected first-year students like him not to get into the classes they wanted, he was surprised to find out that most of his peers bidded successfully — with the exception of a few exceedingly oversubscribed classes.
“Personally, I was lucky enough to get all but one of the course that I wanted,” the SOM Student Government President Alexa Allen SOM ’15 said. “And the one I didn’t get into was a 10-person class. Had I allocated my points differently, I think I would have been able to get a seat.”