High school graduates often come to college with the same mentality that might have carried them through high school, but they very quickly learn that it’s a different world in college. It’s not about merely reciting what you’ve been spoon-fed, but rather about applying what you learn to try and solve a real world problem, as was the case with the final year student who proposed a sports-betting thesis which he also repurposed for each of his annual academic year projects.
Speaking to two of his professors who were both well aware of exactly what this Actuarial Sciences student was doing, both mentors echoed the same sentiment of it ultimately being about applying what you learn. “It’s about studying for a purpose – a real purpose and not just slapping together a year-project or a thesis just so that you can get your grades and enter the job market,” said one of the professors, whose teaching area is Mathematical Statistics. “We’re all well aware that he has essentially been recycling his first-year project, adding whatever he has learned in the subsequent year and then basically just rewriting the whole thing – and it’s BRILLIANT!” continued the professor. “At the end of the day that’s what we want – we want students to demonstrate that they have learned something during the year and demonstrate their ability to apply it in the real world.”
The Actuaries student who shall remain unnamed for now probably thought he’d take the chance in any case, but his thesis on sports betting trends actually goes a lot deeper than just analysing the odds and tries to link that with the subject matter of his studies. In his documentation of the entire process, from how he would proceed to download the William Hill iOS app to place bets with, right up to how he would conduct his research on which sporting events outcomes are likeliest to occur, the most important part of it all is that he demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of how statistical analysis works, or at least the theory behind it.
It ultimately comes down to working the odds in your favour and if you go at it for a long enough time, certain statistical patterns start to reveal themselves to hold water, keeping in line with the statistical theory taught as part of the typical Actuarial Sciences course.
So this only goes to show that your professors aren’t in fact just out to get you – on the contrary. What makes this angle taken in the thesis brilliant however, as alluded to by one of the professors interviewed, is the fact that an element of mystery and wonder was left up in the air. The student analysed prospective outcomes of the 2017 Wimbledon, which at the time of his submission of the thesis was yet to commence, placing bets based on a trend he analysed in which he looked at the average performance of every single tennis player in history over 17 years, paying special attention to their peak performance cycles as well as their barren years of going without any major grand slam titles.