Betting on College: Are You Leaving Money on the Table?


Every year, more students join a high-stakes poker game called college. The purpose of this case is to develop parallels between college, gambling, and gaming in terms of return on objective, return on investment, and activation. Students need to understand the return on objective and the factors that influence them to make the decision to attend college. We aim to explore why students are at the table and what they hope to receive after their education. For most, this is a solid grade point average, extracurricular activities, a job, or graduate school admission. Students with these returns on objective are “gambling” on their college experience; however, we will to teach students “gaming.” Gaming can maximize the return on investment of the education through emphasis on hard and soft costs. Most students will cash in their chips early and think they won the game of college without taking this step. The reality is that most students will leave too many chips still on the card table. In poker, there is a point in the game when you need to put all your chips in the middle and be “all in.” To activate the college experience, students need to be all in and to make strategically calculated bets on themselves. This process takes specific planning and proactive behaviors, including intangible qualities.

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