Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The magic number 49

US News ranks Harvard as the second best national university, after my alma mater Princeton.

Looking at the new rankings reminded me of a conversation I had with a teacher at a mid-ranked university a few years. He told me that all classes of introductory econ at his school were, without exception, capped at 49 students. Why such an odd number?, I asked. He explained that the US News ranking penalizes schools based on the percentage of classes with 50 or more students. Deans, like all people, respond to incentives.