During the course of the last three weeks, most UW-Madison students have completed the (sometimes daunting) task of registering for spring classes. As the semester continues to wind down, and students begin turning their sights on the upcoming spring semester, they can also turn their sights on something else entirely: Free money.
By using the website Ultrinsic, UW students can now bet on their grades and earn real, cash rewards if they reach their academic achievement goals by the end of the semester.
The concept is exceedingly easy. Students simply go to the website and create a user name with their university email address. Students must then submit their transcript to the site since odds for the bets vary by student. Thus, students can participate regardless of their previous academic performance. Students can also provide the website with their UW log-in and password so the company can access their academic record without making students go through the trouble of submitting their transcripts.
In addition to previous academic records, odds are also based on the difficulty of the classes students are enrolled in.
After that, students input the classes they’re enrolled in for the following semester and place their bets. Students can place bets based on an individual course, multiple courses, and overall semester performance based on your semester GPA. Freshmen can bet to earn a 4.0 GPA throughout their college career and win $2,000 in cash rewards.
At the end of the semester, students submit a final transcript and can earn their cash reward. The most a newcomer user can bet is $25, which is paid for by credit card. However, there are a variety of wages and incentives for users to choose from.
Because the site bases its odds on previous academic performance, first semester freshmen clearly have the biggest potential to reap the biggest awards for the site since the company has nothing to base their odds on, other than a simple guess on how they will perform in their new academic environment.
According to information posted on the site by Ultrinsic founder Jeremy Gelbart, the idea for the site came out of his experiences while he was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, and lacked the motivation to study for his exams. After a friend placed a bet on Gelbart’s anticipated grade for an exam he hadn’t studied for, Gilbart reasoned that other students put in a similar situation would likely be motivated to study for their exams, and the idea for Ultrinsic was born.
The site, which launched in 2009 with pilot programs at New York University and University of Pennsylvania, has spread to 36 schools nationwide, including Harvard, Duke and Boston College, among others.
Although there has been some concern regarding the site’s legality, proponents of Ultrinsic point out that technically, the company is not actually promoting gambling because it’s missing one important aspect: Chance. While the site is based on odds and predicts, students that place bets are ultimately in charge of their own destiny.
While I’m not completely convinced that Ultrinsic is a good money maker for everyone, it might be a nice way for those curve-setters to earn a little extra money on the side.
Rachel Vesco is a senior majoring in journalism, political science and Facebook stalking. For future column ideas, email [email protected] (or find her on Facebook).