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Ultrinsic Puts Vegas-Style Odds on Your Academic Career

The new website Ultrinsic wants to to make a bet with you; it says that you can't get straight As, or straight Bs for that matter. The beta service lets students place wagers on whether or not they'll achieve a certain grade in a class or maintain a particular GPA. To be a virtual bookie, the service uses an algorithm that takes into account current work load, course history and, when available, the difficulty of a specific course. Ultrinsic calculates the odds on your academic career, and allows you to make wagers for cash rewards.

For example, if Ultrinsic thinks that the odds are two to one against you getting an A in Modern English Grammar, and you decide to wager $50, an A will net you $100 on top of the $50 you originally risked. You can also buy "grade insurance," which pays cash if you fail a class.

The site is currently available to students at 36 colleges, including NYU and UC Berkeley, with plans to roll out nationwide as soon as more funding is available. There are hurdles besides financial ones for Ultrinsic to overcome, though. For one, online gambling is still illegal in the U.S. While the site's creators claim that betting on your grades isn't gambling, it at least lies in a gray area. Because your grades are dependent largely upon your own effort and intelligence, Ultrinsic suggests it's more akin to playing fair games for prizes.

We're sure more than a few students would take part, with at least some seeing it as easy money. It's an interesting way to encourage students to focus more on their studies, but, if Ultrinsic has the intended effect, the company should hopefully do nothing but lose money, making it a terrible business model. Unless, of course, the goal is to prey upon the under-performing students of America. In which case, Facebook's beat you to it. [From: Boston Globe]

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