In speaking with aspiring collegians and their parents, I’ve found that the overwhelming majority of these otherwise college-savvy people are unaware of these off-the-beaten-path offerings. One of the most prevalent reasons for this is that the cash awards from “weird” scholarships usually aren’t all that significant. In other words, you won’t be coming close to a full ride by winning the National Marbles Tournament Scholarship.
However, the thing to keep in mind about small scholarship awards is that they can add up to more than a minor amount. The price you have to pay, in most cases, is your time investment. First of all, you have to find out about them. I do that by searching the Web for “weird college scholarships.” That search phrase returns a ton of links. Then you have to evaluate the offerings and narrow down your candidates, based on your qualifications and your willingness to submit your application and/or essay.
Many of these scholarships do require an essay. That’s probably the most common deal-breaker for students. I have heard some students complain, “Why should I spend a couple hours of my time writing an original essay for a $500 scholarship?” My answer to that is, “Why not skip four reruns of The Big Bang Theory and see if you can earn $250 per hour, if you win?” My point here is to be selective and pick your scholarship battles. Obviously, you’re not going to be applying for every weird scholarship that you find. Selectivity is the key.
So, where’s a good place to find some of these crazy cash cows? As I mentioned above, you can just do a fast search, as I did. Or, you can go to a few of the more notable sources, such as Zen College Life, where I found an informative and amusing list of 45 of the Weirdest College Scholarships. I thought I would give you a sampling of 10 from this list in order to pique your curiosity for some (well)-lesser known college cash awards. I’ll include a few words of description, too. Here we go …
– Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest: Who would ever think that creating prom outfits out of duct tape could win a lucky couple $3,000 in scholarship money?
– Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship: Scholarship funds are awarded each year to sophomores, juniors and seniors attending Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA. To quality, you must be left-handed, have financial need and a good GPA.
– Common Knowledge Challenges: If you know a lot about a lot then you may be eligible for a series of Common Knowledge Scholarships that range from $250 – $3,000.
– National Marbles Tournament Scholarship: This contest for eight to 14 year olds awards between $1,000 and $2,000 scholarship money to those skilled in the game of marbles.
– Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship: Looking for $5,000 in college scholarship money? Simply be a vegetarian high school student who promotes vegetarianism in your school or community.
– Discover Scholarship Award: This scholarship for high school juniors requires a 2.75 GPA and proof of a significant roadblock to earn $40,000 for post-high school education, training, certification or licensing.
– Ayn Rand The Fountainhead Scholarship: If you enjoyed the book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and are in the 11th or 12th grade, you could receive up to $10,000 in scholarship money by writing the best essay concerning the novel.
– Zolp Scholarship: Here’s another lucky last name scholarship. This one is from Loyola University and asks that your last name be Zolp and you be Catholic in order to qualify.
– Carnegie Mellon University Bagpipe Scholarship: This highly uncompetitive scholarship offers $7,000 yearly to bagpipe major students.
– American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship: High school students who don’t mind reading an essay about fire sprinklers then taking a 10-question test could qualify for a $2,000 scholarship.
Fascinating, eh? If nothing above strikes your fancy, check out the remaining 35 listings. These may seem weird, but scoring a couple thousand bucks for your college coffers may be worth your time, even if you’re not psyched to learn about fire sprinklers. 🙂
Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles on College Confidential.