Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Harvard Paradox

In his last faculty meeting as Harvard President, Larry Summers told me and my colleagues the following:
I have been troubled, and I believe you should be troubled, by survey data suggesting that student satisfaction at Harvard is much closer to the bottom than to the top of any list of leading American colleges, and that the relative satisfaction of our students declines with each year that they are here.
Four days earlier, the Harvard Crimson reported:
Eighty percent of students admitted to the Class of 2010 will matriculate at the College next year, giving Harvard its highest yield in over a quarter century....Harvard’s yield this year will likely once again top its peers. Last year, Harvard’s 78.5 percent bettered Yale’s 72 percent, Princeton’s 67.7 percent, and the University of Pennsylvania’s 66 percent yields.
It is an odd business that has customers who are simultaneously unhappy about the product and eager to buy it.

Comments welcome, especially from my ec 10 students.