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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Hypercompetitive overachievers bet on their own academic success

By Matt Flegenheimer



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) He checked like the rest of the overachievers — updating the Web page day after day, scanning his transcript for those dreaded B-pluses tugging his grade-point average in the wrong direction.

By late May, rising University of Pennsylvania junior Nick Migliacci knew for sure: He'd scratched out a 3.2 (out of 4) GPA for the spring semester. So close.

"I mean, I got the grades," Migliacci recalled, sighing, "but lost the bet."

Since last fall, Migliacci has been wagering on his grades through a website called Ultrinsic.com, founded by former Penn student Jeremy Gelbart, 23, and longtime friend Steven Wolf, 27. The site offers two options: "rewards" bets that incentivize classroom success and "grade insurance," allowing students to short-sell their own academic prospects.

To the latter end, as hypercompetitive classmates scoured campus for an academic edge, Migliacci began his semester with a pre-emptive hedge: that he'd finish with a 3.0 GPA or lower.

"I wasn't wagering enough to motivate me not to do well," Migliacci said. "But at least I'd walk away with some money if I didn't."

Soon, thousands of students nationwide will have access to the same choice. After a soft launch at Penn and New York University last year, Ultrinsic is expanding to over 30 schools this fall, including Harvard University, Princeton University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Southern California.

Now operating from an office in New York, the founders expect enrollment — over 500 through the spring, between Penn and NYU — to jump by about 100 per new school. (The company declined to discuss its financial history or expectations.)

Gelbart, who graduated from New York's Queens College in 2009 after transferring from Penn, and Wolf, also a Queens College alumnus, conceived the idea on a lazy Sunday afternoon at Penn a few years ago. Wolf, visiting for the weekend, offered to pay Gelbart $100 if he aced his exam the next day. Gelbart won the bet.

"Students like learning, but it's work," said Gelbart, president of Ultrinsic. "People want to see an immediate payoff for that hard work."

Most participants opt for success-based bets, Gelbart said, and not the grade insurance. This model of motivation, he said, compels students to assign proper value to long-term academic goals they may neglect — say, learning the material — by distracting them with short-term payoffs.

"The point of the site is to push yourself," he said.

Gelbart and Wolf set odds on a given wager according to an algorithm they've developed over the past two years. Among the factors: the student's academic history (account-holders must turn over a transcript copy when they sign up); the reputation of the course or courses in question; and how much money the student intends to put up — the more someone bets, the founders reason, the more likely he is to do well.

"It doesn't seem that difficult to beat the lines," said Migliacci, who, despite his GPA overstep in the spring, has made about $300 on the site. "I'm guessing they are just making money on people who bet according to which classes they want to do well in, not what the smart economic bet would be."

Indeed, to some experts, Ultrinsic's economics don't compute. How can the site know students better than they know themselves?

Andrew Postlewaite, a Penn game theory professor, says the company faces the classic insurance problem of asymmetric information.

"If people have a better idea whether they'll do well, they can use that to their advantage," he said.

Others in higher education are wary of the site's attitude towards academia.

"This is not what real education is about," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director at the American Association of Registrars and Admissions Officers. "They have come up with a shtick."

Dennis DeTurck, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Penn, says the venture reminds him of parents slipping young children a few bucks for bringing home an exemplary report card.

"I guess we like to think our students are a little more mature than that," he said.

For many students, having to surrender private academic records is a deal-breaker.

Others worry that the grade insurance option in particular will carry indirect, negative consequences if Ultrinsic spreads to their campuses. "What if a guy on my group project was betting against himself?" asked Caitlin Naylor, a rising senior at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

Whether Ultrinsic constitutes a "betting" site, though, is a matter of debate.

Representatives from state offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey had never heard of Ultrinsic; its validity, both said, fell outside their jurisdictions. Federal oversight of online gaming — which is technically illegal — remains spotty, though a bill sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to allow clearer regulations of Internet gambling was recently approved by the House Financial Services Committee.

Gelbart insists the site is more motivator than moneymaker.

"This is not in the same category (because) it's completely in the student's control," Gelbart said. "There are elements of chance, but if you study harder, you'll do well."

Ultrinsic's philosophy, Gelbart added, "is definitely going to be implemented in the future of education."

Those operating in the present of education remain unconvinced.

"By their logic, you should buy a hit on yourself," Nassirian said. "Would that motivate you to do well?"


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© 2010 The Philadelphia Inquirer.; Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.