When you’re a Senior who’s been through the system, you get to swagger (in slow motion to the Pacific Rim OST) around school, wearing your battle scars as medals. Accidentally DICE-d the module you really wanted? Yep. Maximum bidder by 30 e$ past the median amount? Uh huh. Arranged to bid amount X with “friends” who then overbid you 10 seconds before the window closes? *deep breath and tries not to cry*
Our school’s bidding system is very aptly named – Bidding Online SyStem: BOSS. You see, in video games, a BOSS BATTLE (aka BOSS bidding) is a climax at the end of a stage or level that the player (the SMU student) arrives at. The boss, a computer-controlled enemy is usually far stronger and bigger (BOSS) than all the other opponents the player has faced (life). Often, bosses are impossible to defeat without the correct strategy and special knowledge, so one has to go in knowing the weak points and attacks to wield in order to win. Year 2s and above, welcome back Player 1. Freshies, welcome to The Game.
How do you win the BOSS Battle windows in the coming weeks? What game of strategy do you play to sidestep the ultra-competitive nature of bidding for classes? What weak points do other players and the system possess?
Use resources that you have: past bids, seniors and schoolmates, and plan ahead.
The Overall BOSS Results page is privy to how much a certain professor’s class at 8.15am or 3.30pm went for last semester and 8 semesters before that. Showing you minimum, median, and maximum bids from several rounds and windows, the system is sure to reveal a pattern if you study it carefully. For example, morning classes are usually cheaper (especially Monday morning classes) and midweek classes at 12pm and 3.30pm are generally more expensive. Past bids are your best friend when you begin to consider how much e$ you ought to assign that mod.
Seniors, and we don’t just mean Year 4s, can help you when it comes to deciding on mods. Not every professor’s method of teaching will suit you and not every course outline will live up to its hype. Talk to people who have taken the mod previously and find out more about the professor, the mod, the coursework and what they have taken away from it. If the module is being newly offered, email the professor beforehand, introduce yourself politely and enquire about matters you are unsure of. Most professors also upload course outlines – always, always look through them unless you want to find yourself in the middle of a surprise 30 page assignment due in Week 3. Narrowing down the mods you want to take eliminates a lot of stress, helps you to plan more efficiently and avoid a cramped week.
Look, we’ll just tell it to you straight: bid alone, or maybe with one other friend. Bidding with five other friends means having to accommodate five schedules and five preferred timings. Bidding alone = freedom, simply because you can bid with free abandon for classes of your preferred timing, and at any amount you want. Speaking of amounts, most of us tend to be stingy with the numbers we enter.
e$28 should be okay, right.
Okay, okay, last last e$27.44.
Too many 4s, better change to $27.88
*makes changes five minutes before window closes again*
It’s okay to spend! When you graduate, SMU’s not going to convert it to real dollars and give it to you with your degree. JUST SPEND! In year 4, you'll look at your balance and laugh because you'll have so much of e$ left and nowhere to spend it. Getting your mods in the first window is crucial because the next windows will see panicky students inflating the price. If past bids call for it and you still choose to be frugal, then get ready to be bankrupt in the next few windows.
Even then, trust your gut instinct. If e$19.21 doesn’t look good, do e$21.19. Really need this mod or want this mod? Bid higher. If you don’t really care for it, back it down to e$15.19 – spend on other mods you want/need.
The last strategy to adopt is the +1 strategy. Don’t bid for exactly the number of mods you’re planning to take. Always have a backup module to fall back on in the event that your other bids fall through. The worst thing would be to have to find another module that fits your schedule in the midst of frantic panic.
Naturally, most of us aspire for the coveted 2-day or 3-day work week to chill at home or work part time. But honestly, the probability of all our mods falling into place perfectly is lower than the probability of snow in Singapore. It’s not impossible – sacrifices will need to be made. Wait, no, not that kind of sacrifices – put that chicken down! Either you’ll have to part with some e-kaching or give up modules you really wanted to take for that perfect 2-day week.
Of course, this article doesn’t guarantee a surefire success in your bidding activities because other factors can change the outcome: the number of offered classes, for example. You can pin and unpin all the modules you want in the world but sometimes, the system decides if you’re worthy. It’s also easy to say “Don’t hate the player, hate the game!” but this is kind of hard to accept when every bidding round sees students sniping, overbidding, hoarding, or inflating the price of a module to ridiculous amounts. Are the two days of intense anxiety awaiting results worth it? – is the question we should all consider before entering wicked numerical values we spent days crafting.