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  • Writer's pictureAllison Styffe

Spotlights: Actuaries, Geoducks, & Greeting Cards!

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

CAREER: Actuary

Median salary: $100K

Education needed: Bachelor's degree

Job growth*: 20% (much faster than average)

If you've ever thought about majoring in mathematics but wonder what you can do with that degree (there are plenty of options aside from becoming a math teacher, by the way), consider a career as an actuary. "A what?" you might be asking... I know, I know, this isn't one of those classic occupations that everyone's heard of, or that you dreamt of doing as a child, but it's one worth knowing about if you're at all interested in economics, statistics, problem-solving, and evaluating risks/rewards.

While an actuary's job is quite complex, it can basically be boiled down to two main tasks:

  1. Determining the probability that certain events will occur

  2. Estimating the cost or risk of those events

Let's apply those two tasks to the setting in which most actuaries work: insurance. A home insurance actuary, for example, would assess how likely a natural disaster is to occur, as well as how much the insurance company can expect to pay homeowners whose houses are damaged by that natural disaster. It's a pretty tricky problem to solve—like looking into a mathematical crystal ball of sorts—but if that sounds like the kind of Rubik's Cube you'd like to get your hands on, then this might be the job for you!

In order to pursue this career path, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in anything from mathematics to economics to actuarial science itself, and prepare to take a lot of exams throughout your career. This is the type of job with a built-in ladder of advancement to climb, starting as a trainee and moving up to associate, with the eventual hope of gaining fellowship status. Some actuaries even become the CFO (chief financial officer) for businesses and often mentor other actuaries who are just starting out.

Want a mentor yourself as you consider this career path? is a great place to start learning more!


COLLEGE: Evergreen State College

Location: Olympia, WA

Tuition: $12K*

Size: Medium (3,000 students)

Go Geoducks! That's right: the mascot at Evergreen State College is Speedy the geoduck (pronounced goey-duck), a type of large clam native to the Puget Sound. The mascot isn't the only unique thing about Evergreen. The school is truly one-of-a-kind: we're talking no grades, personalized degrees, and a focus on experiential learning. Instead of grades, students are assessed through what the school refers to as "narrative evaluations" in order to provide a more robust evaluation of learning than a simple letter grade. Instead of choosing a major, students create an area of emphasis, selecting course work on their own. Instead of taking a handful of individual classes each term, students participate in a single 12 – 16-credit academic program that integrates different subjects.

The campus itself is what you might expect from the school's name. Surrounded by 1,000 acres of forest, Evergreen’s campus includes a large network of trails leading to the college’s Organic Farm, unspoiled forested areas, and beach on the Puget Sound. Nature is only one of many factors important to the school, though. The campus culture is extremely values-driven, and as the website states, "When you make the decision to come to Evergreen, you are also making the decision to become closely associated with its values." Take a look at the school's social contract to see if their values align with your own:

You might think that such an individualized educational experience in such a values-driven setting would only be available at a pricey private institution, but Evergreen is a liberal arts college with a public school price tag. Of course, out-of-state tuition can be a burden, but last year Evergreen became member of the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), which means qualified Oregon residents only need to pay 150% of in-state tuition. In addition, students can use Evergreen's scholarship search tool to find extra opportunities to help pay for tuition and other expenses.

*WUE tuition


SCHOLARSHIP: Create a Greeting Card

Amount: $10,000

Type: Art/design

Due: March 2, 2020

This one is for all the artists out there who are feeling festive. The Gallery Collection's 13th Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship is taking submissions through the beginning of March, so hurry up and get creating! To enter, all you need is an original photo, artwork, or computer graphic that could go on the front of a greeting card, any greeting card — birthday, holiday, get well soon, whatever! 100 designs are chosen each month for voting, and if your submission gets enough votes to be in the top 10, a panel of judges will consider it when choosing a winner. Not only is this scholarship a fun one with a large prize, it's also open to anyone 14 years or older who's enrolled in high school, college, or homeschool. Not sure what kind of work to submit? Click here to see the variety among past winners' designs. Ready to toss your design in the ring already? Click here to submit your entry!

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