While choosing a seat is not necessarily an economic study, economics is all about making a rational decision. I hear this all the time in my super rudimentary economics 241 class, a class that everyone, regardless of their major, has to take.
In it we discuss the primal topic of “thinking like an economist,” which basically means using your brain. As a highly linear and logical thinker, a class on how to think with your touchy-feely side might be more beneficial, but seeing as I’m paying $1000+ for the liability of having to show up in the same place for three hours each day, I’ll be damned if I don’t get some good blog content out of it—know what I mean?
Anyway, the economics of seat choice…
So you walk into class for the first day and there are a million choices of seats from which you can choose. But which should you choose? Conventional wisdom says that you should sit to the front since you’ll pay more attention, be in direct view of your professor, and you’ll be closest to the teacher and thus hear each and every breath they take, as well as the last second test information they murmur under their breath before the end of each class.
I like to sit at the front because I’m likely to forget my glasses at least once in each class for any given class. Actually, my glasses are currently nowhere to be found, so for the past week I’ve been pretty happy to have chosen a seat at the front in each of my six classes.
But not everyone wears glasses, and not everyone may require a seat toward the front of the class. We all have that one class or one topic where we could show up for the tests, fail to do every single piece of homework and still get out with an A. So why would it make sense that we should sit in front in ALL classes?
Here’s my own biased explanation for seat choice:
The people who sit in the front of class are often very attentive, very detailed students who, even if they don’t grasp everything immediately, will go home and scour each and every chapter until they “get it.” These people are to me what 50 more lifeboats would have been to the Titanic. If I don’t understand something in two minutes, I throw the book across the room until I cool down and approach the topic again the next day.
I want to spend a lot of time with these people who have the study skills I don’t, not because I want a partner, a tutor, nor do I want someone who I can trust with all my secrets. I want to sit by these people because I know I’ll need them.
You see, group projects are a given. Professors use them because they can grade 15 things instead of 75, and because they see that every student, no matter what line of work they get into, will have to be able to work with other people.
So…back to the seat choice. You can sit in the back or the front, you decide. I say sit in the front.
By sitting in the front, you sit closest to the people who are:
- More likely to learn the material
- More likely to take an interest in the material
- More likely to do their homework
- More likely to understand that “group projects” require work from everyone
That’s just how it works. So, when the eventual group project pops up, you’ll be in close proximity with the people who make things happen. And seeing as you’re unlikely to know anyone already in your class, you might as well make a few friends with the people who are likely to get the best grade. And in doing so, you’ll also have the best partners for group projects.
There you have it, the economics of choosing a seat in class. Choosing a seat in front doesn’t cost any more than sitting in the back, and the benefit is that you’ll be immediately partnered with the people who are the most likely to do the best, and participate the most. I see it as co-opting their participation, activity, and their inner-drive to get an A. And if I can get all that benefit just by picking a different chair, there isn’t a chance in hell I’m not taking that opportunity.
Go forth! Pick that seat front and center! You’ll be glad you did.
Photo by: Shandi-Lee