Why Students Should Learn Risk and Data Analysis in High School and What Competitions Can Help.

Posted September 14, 2020 by Jessica Fahrenholtz

As students enter high school, reality hits. These are the last four years they have to learn essential life skills before heading out into the real world – on their own! Will they be ready?


While the average high school curriculum prepares students for exams and college essays, it does little to prepare them to analyze data, assess risks, and make well-informed logical decisions. These skills are some of the most important “life skills” for students to learn. As they leave the nest, they will be flooded with more and more risky situations where they have to make the decisions. Understanding sound mathematical and data-driven techniques to analyze these situations will become a critical part of their success.


Allowing students to take risks can be tricky in a controlled environment like the classroom. In fact, many parents are afraid to let their children take risks at all. So, it is no surprise most students get to college without the necessary skills to make smart, data-driven decisions on their own.


Adults often forget that every decision with an unknown outcome involves some risk.


  • Should I take my new tablet with me to the party?
  • Should I join my new friends on a backpacking trip?
  • Is it safe for me to get into the car with people I don’t know?


The experienced brain would not spend much time considering any of these. Why? Lessons learned from past mishaps, disasters, and successes create neuro-pathways in the brain that eventually make decisions like these second nature.


What about the adolescent brain? Living in a structured environment has its advantages. However, when it comes to learning to analyze and manage risks, this environment leaves students ill-prepared for the future.


There is a solution however, that doesn’t involve risking lives or college admittance. In fact, this solution may actually help students get into college and earn scholarship money along the way.


What is the solution? Academic Competitions! Student competitions are being utilized nationwide by ambitious students and innovative teachers to fill gaps otherwise left in the school curriculum.


Subsidizing a student’s high school education with competitions is one of the best ways to teach these real-life skills in a hands-on way while also reinforcing their other core instructions.


In particular, there are several competitions that specialize in data science, mathematical modeling, and risk analysis. Here are a few excellent academic competitions to consider.


Academic Worldquest– This academic competition is a fun and collaborative way for students to learn and demonstrate their understanding of current politics, geography, global economics, history, and world cultures. Students will get the opportunity to work alongside others from across the globe and learn the boundaries required to work on an international scale. The decisions and risks involved in this competition will set students up for success as they venture into culturally diverse situations in their lives.

USA Computing Olympiad– This competition will motivate and encourage students to learn advanced programming and computational problem-solving skills. The top four students even get to represent the U.S in the International Olympiad in Informatics. Students will get a taste of risk management as they vie to win one of the four spots available on the U.S team.


Modeling the Future Challenge– This challenge is one of the best at teaching the Actuarial Process of risk management. Learning this process in school will ensure that students have the resources to analyze risks and make educated decisions about whatever life has in store for them. Participants in the Modeling the Future Challenge work together to solve real-world problems, using math, science, and their newly acquired skills in the Actuarial Process. As a bonus, the winners if The Modeling The Future Challenge will win scholarships worth $55,000.



In the fast-paced world we now live in, it has never been more important to teach kids skills likeĀ The Actuarial Process in which students build on the structure they already know and understand from the scientific method to learn how to appropriately analyze and manage risks in any situation. These are skills students will use time and time again in all areas of their lives.


Like it or not, for students to be successful, they will have to take risks. Unfortunately, that is not something they will learn in the standard classroom. As students prepare to head off on their own for the first time, they must have the opportunity to take risks, weigh the outcomes, and analyze the data before the stakes of their decisions get too high!


Sign up for an academic competition like theĀ Modeling the Future Challenge and start learning those skills today!