“For most of the past two centuries, economic thinking has been dominated by the concept of Homo economicus. The hypothetical Economic Man knows what he wants; his preferences can be expressed mathematically in terms of a ‘utility function.’ And his choices are driven by rational calculations about how to maximize that function: whether consumers are deciding between corn flakes or shredded wheat, or investors are deciding between stocks and bonds, those decisions are assumed to be based on comparisons of the ‘marginal utility’, or the added benefit the buyer would get from acquiring a small amount of the alternatives available.” – Paul Krugman on the rational-agent model
The clock is ticking down towards the start of the semester. You know those scenes in films where a military unit is checking all their gear, lining up their sights, strapping themselves in? That’s what university students are doing right now. You can hear (or overhear) it in the conversations on campus.
Take this one, for instance:
Student 1: “So, what happens in tutes, then? Do you need to bring the textbook?”
Student 2: “Um…maybe? Dunno. D’you know if it’s an easy subject?”
Those were first years, figuring out how exactly it is you go about studying at university, and trying to pick low-hanging-fruit electives.
Student 1: “I’m not falling behind this semester.”
Student 2: “Yeah, me too. Gonna do the reading.”
Student 1: “Yep. Gonna do it before class.”
No points for guessing that these were returning students, promising themselves they’ll do at least some things differently this time – try to improve on their past performance by learning from past mistakes.