November 25th, 2009How to: Find & Apply for Weird College Scholarships
One of the most challenging aspects of college is finding a way to pay for it. Scholarships can seem scarce — especially if you are one of hundreds of people competing for standard scholarships for leadership, academics and need. Instead, it might help to think outside the box a little bit. There are a number of scholarships available that cater to individuals that have more specific qualifications. And because they are “weird,” fewer people know about them, so there is less competition. Some of the scholarships are for smaller amounts, but every little bit helps. Here are some examples of lesser-known scholarships available:
- Duck Brand Duct Tape’s “Stuck at Prom” Scholarship Contest: Win $3,000 if your prom outfit, made from duct tape, is chosen the sinner.
- Tall Clubs International: This association of tall people award scholarships to women who are 5’10″ and men who are 6’2″ and going to college. The scholarship is worth $1,000, and is meant for students attending their first year of college.
- Little People of America: If you have been diagnosed with dwarfism, you can apply for scholarship awards ranging from $250 to $1,000
- Vegetarian Resource Group: If you are willing to promote your vegetarian beliefs in your school or community, you might be eligible for a $5,000 scholarship. Carnivores need not apply.
- National Beef Ambassador Program: If you like to eat meat, specifically beef, you can win a scholarship if you are willing to educate others about beef. Prizes are $250 and up.
- Klingon Language Institute: Die-hard Star Trek fans know that Klingon is, in fact, now a fully-fledged language. And even if you don’t speak Klingon, if you are are interested in studying language as an undergrad or a grad, you can apply for this $500 scholarship.
- David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship: If you are attending Ball State University, and in the field of telecommunications, you can win $10,000 for a creative project. This scholarship is awarded by a fund set up by one of Ball State’s most famous alumni.
- Collegiate Investors Competition: Present an idea for an invention, and win up to $25,000. Just make sure your invention is plausible and has societal value.
- Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship: Are you a golf caddie? Apply for this full-tuition scholarship from the Western Golf Association.
- Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year Award: Known as the SAMMY, this is offered to high school students, seniors, for use in college. Students must be scholar-athletes. So, even if you don’t get a plum athletic scholarship for college, you can still get $7,500.
Scholarships like this are available by the thousands. There are scholarships for people with the last name Zolp, children of parents who sell Tupperware and many others. The key is to find scholarships that are somewhat obscure, and then apply for several of them.
Find Weird College Scholarships
There are a number of places to look for scholarships that have unusual requirements. The good news is that many of these awards do not have academic requirements attached, beyond attending school. Here are some steps you can take to increase the chances of finding a weird scholarship.
- Web search: Think about your qualities. This includes specific traits and interests. Type “accordion scholarships” into Google, and you come up with the Jim Boggio Accordion Scholarships, which are awarded to young players of the unusual instrument. You can do this with a number of traits, such as “left-handed scholarships,” or searches including your ethnicity, culture or religion, in search engines from Google to Yahoo to Bing.
- Scholarship databases: There are a number of databases out there that provide information on scholarships. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill offers a list of scholarship databases that you can sign up for. These databases help you create a profile, and then can send you email alerts when a scholarship you are eligible for pops up.
- Universities themselves: Call the financial aid offices of the colleges you are applying to. These offices can help point you in the right direction, and let you know what scholarships are available. Additionally, once you pick a major, you can speak with your department about what scholarships are available. You might be surprised by the money that is waiting to be claimed for a number of students with certain qualifications.
Apply for Weird College Scholarships
After you have located possible scholarships, it is time to apply. It is important to note that not all unusual scholarships are easy to get. Some scholarships are easier to get than others, but even with the easiest of scholarships, it is important to make sure you fulfill all of the requirements, and understand what the application process entails. Some scholarships, such as those that require advocacy on the part of some cause, or proficiency in a skill, will require at least two years of work in order to reach a level of eligibility. Make sure that you start your college scholarship search early, so that you can establish yourself as a worthy recipient.
Some resources you can use to help you apply for scholarships include:
- Scholarship Help: This site takes you through the realities of paying for college, and helps you find scholarship opportunities. Then it provides helpful hints on how to prepare your scholarship application, how to write your essay, and what to look for in people to write letters of recommendation.
- CollegeBoard: This site is very useful for a number of college planning purposes. It also includes a section on how to organize your scholarship search, and tips for filling out applications.
- Financial Aid Tips: If you are looking for tips on paying for college, from government grants to scholarships to loans, this site can help you. It includes a scholarship database, as well as helpful information on writing scholarship essays and providing access to information about minority opportunities.
- GradView: Many people don’t realize how difficult it is to find scholarships as a graduate student. GradView offers helpful information on available graduate school scholarships, and how to apply for them.
- Lewis & Clark College: This school in Oregon has a rather helpful page on applying for scholarships that are not directly from the university you are attending. Helpful information on what selection committees look for, as well as resources, is available here.
In the end, your scholarship opportunities are largely limited by your imagination. It may take some time and effort, but it is possible to find weird college scholarships that you have a reasonable chance of winning.
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