Books and Bookies…Time for students to place their bets!

Courtesy of Discovery Education

The start of fall is always one of the “most wonderful times of the year” for tens of thousands of students in the U.S. With clean slates in the classroom and endless opportunities and experiences, students are anxious and excited to go back to school.  

Now it looks like there is even an added incentive to working hard this school year: a chance to turn hard work in the classroom into cold hard cash for the weekend.

There is a new website, Ultrinsic.com, which encourages college students to “bet” on their grades for a class, a series of classes or the whole semester.  Jeremy Gelbert and Steve Wolf launched the site in 2009 while students at University of Pennsylvania and New York University.  Reminds me of a site launched at Harvard University not too long ago.  Wildly successful wager, I hear.

I’m not a gambler, and I never had enough money in college to buy a Diet Coke® let alone bet on anything – especially myself – but this is how  it works…I think. 

Courtesy of WP ClipArt

Students register for a free account on Ultrinsic and provide information including current courses and class schedules.  Student can then choose “incentives.”  The maximum incentive or bet – according to the site – is $25 for first-timer “wagers.”  Ultrinsic crunches the numbers, casts some “study hard spell” and students are off to the races! Whoops, I meant study halls.  The more a student participates, the more the incentive limits are raised.  The site also offers the option to buy “insurance” just in case they fall short of the big payday for the class or semester.  Essentially, students are betting on themselves.  The company does hope to make money, but according to Judah Gruber, Ultrinsic COO, “this give students the added incentive to put them over the top.”  We will check back in four years.

While most students would jump at the opportunity to earn some extra cash, there is some debate regarding gambling for grades.  According to the Chicago Tribune, a spokesperson from Indiana University says that it could amount to illegal online gambling and the University is questioning why it is included on the site.   Some students also feel that the site could spur cheating.  

The Associated Press published a list of 36 schools that have students participating in the program.  A quick scan includes some familiar names with excellent reputations including Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University and Georgetown University.  Suprisingly, Brigham Young University was also on the AP list.  If BYU students are on board then surely it cannot be grade gambling, can it?

Well, kudos to Ultrinsic.  Certainly an industry first.  Imagine if the site opened up to family and friends to place bets on their favorite “filly.”  Better yet, give company HR teams the ability to identify and follow some of the rising stars of the Class of 2014!

Luck Be a Lady…or an A…tonight!

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