What Do I Have In Common With Hannah Montana?

I sometimes do wear a wig and too much eye makeup, but that’s not what I had in mind.

The answer to the question is that people are scalping tickets to both of our performances. There was uproar recently about the steep prices resellers were getting for her concert tickets — sometimes upwards of $2,000.

My venue is a little cozier than Montana’s. The room to which I was assigned for my undergraduate class at the University of Chicago only holds about 100 people. Only 80 students were allowed to pre-register, but another 45 showed up in hopes of getting a spot in the course. My standard way of admitting students when a class is over-subscribed is a lottery, despite the obvious inefficiencies. The problem with a lottery is that it doesn’t let in the students who care the most about winning a spot. I don’t think, however, that the university would look kindly on me auctioning the seats to the highest bidders, even if it is more efficient.

Even if I can’t sell spots in the class to whoever is willing to pay the most, it hasn’t stopped an enterprising student already enrolled in the class from giving it a shot with an online ad. The student offers his seat in the class to the highest bidder. So far, however, the prices are not yet reaching Hannah Montana territory. As of this writing, the current high bid is $0.

Prospective buyers might want to be cautious. I’m not sure being registered in a class at the university bestows upon a student the right to transfer enrollment to another student. If the administration says it is okay, I will go along with it, but I suspect it won’t fly.

In the spirit of trying to do better than just randomly assigning spots in the class, I will make the following offer: the first two students who are not currently registered for the course, but were in class on Monday, to leave a comment in response to this blog post will get guaranteed entry into the course.

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  1. Mama Kangaroo says:

    UNFAIR!!! But, good idea.

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  2. g p burdell says:

    While I have no problem with Hanna Montana concert tickets (or any other event) being resold, I think it is different for your class.

    Universities are not “free markets.” If that were the case, then why not just let the highest bidders matriculate in the first place, and then bid and trade on all of the courses as they please.

    A better system should be based on some pre-determined ranking. At my alma mater (Georgia Tech), it was based on seniority primarily, but honors students and Presidential Scholars were given higher priority.

    Perhaps something like that should be put into place here.

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  3. Charles says:

    Awesome. I don’t know if you read the comments for your Q&A with Dubner, but I asked this exact thing. I’m really glad to see things play out like this.

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  4. Sean P. says:

    Prof. Levitt, a law professor at the University of Colorado had a solution to this issue which I thought was ingenious. The first week of class she assigned an extremely difficult assignment the first week. Which required research to even know what the assignment was. (Unless they were the sons or daughters of lawyers) The committed students completed the assignment, the other students dropped the class.

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  5. Student 1 says:

    Seat 1 available at a cost, with associated email address. Please email me for details.

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  6. Clyde Abell says:

    If only I went to Chicago…. Sigh

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  7. The Barefoot Bum says:

    If I had been in class Monday, could I then sell my comment-guaranteed entry to the highest bidder?

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  8. Wyatt says:

    If only I were a student at the University of Chicago…

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