Course Bidding

Note: This is an entry I wrote for my Kellogg Student Diary, which was a student life blog I kept as a student at Northwestern. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m copying my entries to my personal blog to preserve my writings. You can read all of the entries by viewing the category Kellogg Student Diaries.

I can’t believe I just finished bidding on courses for my last quarter at Kellogg when it seems like just yesterday I was sitting in an overcrowded informational session where I first learned about Kellogg’s (seemingly) complicated process for putting all of us into classes.

For those that don’t know, the course bidding system solves a problem that most degree programs have: How do you assign 70 classroom seats amongst the 100 or so students that are vying for them. Kellogg solves this by assigning each student 1000 points per quarter (given in bulk at the beginning of the school year) and letting us buy our classroom seats in an online auction. The spots in the classes go to the highest bidders, which ensure that as a student, you’ll definitely get into some classes you want, but probably not all of them.

Of course there are all kinds of implications about the game theory that goes into placing your bids and each quarter’s results become a point of discussion within Kellogg. (While running a MMM trivia night last quarter, I jokingly asked a question about the results of course bidding for 4 popular classes, and surprisingly, every team knew the exact clearing bid for each class).

The real fun with course bidding happens during the spring quarter, when first years are freed from their core requirements and actively bidding for seats against second year students. The second years, likewise, are trying to get into a few key classes before they leave Kellogg for the working world, and to add to the mayhem, everybody’s points are worthless once bidding is over.

I’m proud to say that in 5 quarters of bidding as Kellogg, I’ve gotten into every class I’ve bid on. I could probably write an entire white-paper on my successful bidding strategies, but it’s safe to say that it worked.

Next quarter, I’ll be enrolled in a course on sports management, taught by Northwestern’s Athletic Director and the president of the Blackhawks. I’ll be enrolled in Managerial Leadership, a very popular capstone class for graduating second-years. I’ll also be taking Operations Strategy, with one of Kellogg’s most popular professors, and I’ll be in two other classes that fill requirements for my MMM degree and a finance major.

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Shailesh

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02 2011

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