The Arizona Desert Lamp

C’s get degrees, A’s get a five-to-one payout

Posted in Technology by Connor Mendenhall on 12 January 2009

Wait, are you trying to bribe me with a quarter?There are times when everyone needs a little extra motivation to start studying, like when one is busy blogging the night before a freakin’ Ragnarök of a European Economic Integration final. (Who, me?)

Fortunately, there are markets in everything—including academic initiative. Ultrinsic is an online betting market in student grades, designed to alter the hedonic calculus of slogging through another thousand pages of Jeremy Bentham by paying cash for meeting a target minimum grade. Put up $20 to enter the contest for Underwater Basket Weaving, for example, and if you meet the minimum grade of A-minus, confirmed by an official transcript, you win a predetermined share of that course’s pooled contributions. Not quite as complex as Intrade, but it’s an interesting opportunity to hedge transcript risk (and unfortunately looks like its only open to a handful of east-coast colleges).

I’d love to give it a shot, but I wonder if a service like Ultrinsic might meet the same fate as real betting markets, which are seriously constrained by state gambling laws and federal financial regulations. UA’s Student Code of Conduct prohibits gambling “associated with any university event,” which could be used to quash semesterly speculation. Then again, considering the state of UA come March Madness each year, I wouldn’t bet on it.

(via Marginal Revolution, photo via flickr user squeakymarmot)


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