|That's a lot of Benjamins. (Credit: graphicmania.net)|
Consider the innovative employment policy of the Internet shoe seller Zappos. At the end of a four-week training course, Zappos offers new employees a one-time offer of $3,000 to quit. In part, the company uses the offer as a screening device. If you’re the type who prefers a quick three grand to the opportunity to work at a great company, then Zappos isn’t the place for you.
Law schools might analogously offer to rebate half of a student’s first-year tuition if the student opts to quit school at the end of the first year. (If the student has taken out government loans, this rebate would first go to repay this debt.) A half-tuition rebate splits the loss of an aborted legal career between the school and the student. Each has skin in the game, so students will not go to law school lightly, and law schools will have better incentives not to admit students likely to fail.I think this would be an excellent way of reducing the number of potential Ph.D. chemists. You can imagine saying at the end of a passed candidacy exam (or whatever examination you prefer):
Congratulations -- you're on your way to get a Ph.D.! Oh, by the way -- we are prepared to offer you a check for $20,000. If you take the money, you will leave this program with a master's degree and our thanks for reducing the supply of Ph.D. chemists. You have 1 week to consider the offer.What do you think you would do? I certainly would have considered it, but I probably would have turned it down. (Obviously, this would be subject to wild amounts of gaming; you'd have to practically set up roadblocks to make sure that people wouldn't be death-marching their way to candidacy to get the big payday.)