Today we had our studio lottery. Second year M.Arch I students are given a choice between instructors within the same studio. The program of the studio is the same for all. Third year M.Arch I and second year post-pro (M.Arch II) students choose between different studios. The offerings for them differ greatly from one studio to the next; Peter Eisenman is teaching "Smart Viruses," and Enrique Norton is designing a genomics institute along the Hudson River. One studio will travel to China.
The lottery committee is run by students. Yesterday, they sent out this email:
STUDIO LOTTERY INSTRUCTIONS
The object of the lottery system is two-fold. First, students are able to more accurately represent their preferences on the ballot, improving their chances of being assigned to their higher choices. Second, the system has more freedom to distribute the students in a way which maximizes the total satisfaction among the students. Also, it is important that the system not work in isolation; that students who have fewer semesters remaining or who did not receive a high preference in their previous lottery should have some advantage over the students with more semesters remaining or who got their highest preference in their previous lottery.
The system is based on a currency, which students will spend in the studios on the ballot. The more currency you spend in a studio, the lower your chance of receiving that studio. Each ballot must have at least on zero, which will indicate the student's most desired studio or studios. The amount of currency each student will have to spend is dependent on four factors: Spring or Fall semester, the number of studios offered that semester, the number of semesters that student has remaining, and the number of points the student spent in the studio he/she received in his/her previous lottery. Each student must spend all of his/her points each semester. There will be no bonus next semester for those who don't spend all of their points this semester.
The best strategy for spending your currency is to as accurately as possible represent your true preferences. If you can't decide between two studios, assign an equal number of points to them. While assigning points to the various studios think about both the studios you want and those you don't want: the number of points you assign to your top choices affects the number of points you assign to your bottom choices. Assigning more than one zero increases your chances of receiving a zero in two ways. First, you have more than one chance to receive a zero, and second, you have more currency to spend in the other studios. Assigning one zero and spreading your remaining currency evenly among the other studios gives you a high chance of receiving your zero, but it also gives you a relatively high chance of receiving the least popular studio. If you assign an equal number of points to two or more studios, and you receive one of those studios, chances are it will be the one of those which was the least popular.
If that sounded straight-forward to you, reader, I applaud you. It certainly did not to me. For example, why is the word "currency" used if spending more decreases
your chance of getting something? Why not use the word "liabilities" or simply "points?" And if you can put down multiple zeros, how does this effect the over-all odds? The message even hints that you don't have to spend all your currency.
In any case, I played this game and received my first choice, for which I am grateful. They third years had their resulted posted and then revoked, since someone had received her last choice, which is not supposed to happen.
This is how other elective classes are chosen as well, except that the professor also rates the students who have applied to their class. It is a double-lottery of sorts that allows the faculty to have more say.