Paying for College

Weird College Scholarships

It's time once again to take a look at whacky college scholarships. In the search for money to cover college expenses, students, Moms, and Dads scour the Internet for leads that can send financial relief their way. Some of the major sources of help include colleges. So-called “merit" aid is granted to admitted students to recognize their academic credentials or as an incentive for them to enroll. Merit aid differs from so-called “need-based" aid because it is doled out irrespective of a family's financial need. Need-based aid is awarded in varying amounts based on a family's response to such tools as the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and (sometimes) a college's own financial aid application.

High school students can also take advantage of their school's internal scholarships, usually endowed by foundations, companies, community organizations, or even private individuals. These awards aren't big, like the major national scholarships, but they can provide money for books and other needed incidentals.

One of the more interesting categories of scholarships is the “weird" or “whacky" ones targeted at extremely specific types of students. I wrote about some of these a while ago. I found some interesting new ones, so I thought I would mention them here today. They appear in an article entitled 10 Wackiest College Scholarships. The subtitle states, “Trust us … there's something here your kid is qualified for." That's an encouraging promise, despite ending in a preposition.

So, without further explanation, here are some highlights from seven of the 10 on this whacky list. Maybe you'll find something for which you (or your child) is qualified.

Sprinkler Scholarship: Go to the website of the American Fire Sprinkler Association and read a six-page PDF on the history of hire sprinklers, how they work and careers in the industry. Then take a 10 question on line test. Each correct answer means one entry into a drawing for 10 scholarships worth $2,000 each. The scholarships may be applied to tuition or the cost of books at any accredited two or four year institution, including technical and online schools.

Lazy Scholarship: Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania offers two scholarships—the Gertrude J. Deppend Scholarship and the Voris Auten Scholarship—to Bucknell students who are residents of Mount Carmel; graduates of Mount Carmel Public High School; do not drink smoke or use drugs on a regular basis; and do not participate in strenuous athletic contests. Sound like a match for your kid? Let's hope they're not much older than eight: Only Mount Carmel residents of ten years or more are eligible to apply. Moving time!

JD Salinger Scholarship Each year, Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA offers one creative writing student a $30,000 annual scholarship (renewable yearly), and the chance to spend his or her freshman year residing in the dorm room once occupied by the author of Catcher in the Rye. “We are looking for an unusual perspective," says the college, “for quirky brilliance, for a voice, not necessarily the kind that can be measured by conventional standards."

Golf Caddie Scholarship: This one is full tuition, plus room and board. The catch? Only golf caddies need apply. The Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship pays to way for selected golf caddies to attend one of 20 (mostly Midwestern) universities for up to four years. Caddies must be nominated by their sponsoring country club and are judged on four criterion: caddie record (minimum of two years experience), financial need, academics, and character and leadership …

Duck Calling Scholarship: … There may be money in that. Each year, high school seniors from across the Midwest descend on the little town of Stuttgart, Ark., to compete in a highly specialized field. The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Call Contest Scholarshipawards a $2,000 first prize scholarship to the best duck caller among a field of in- and out-of-state callers. The scholarship, which has given out more than $60,000 since its inception in 1974, honors the memories of the Majors, legendary duck callers and duck call makers.

Tall Person's Scholarship:Your height may earn you money for college. Tall Clubs International awards scholarships of up to $1,000 each to tall students who are under 21 years old and starting their first year of college. Here's how they define “tall": minimum heights of 5'10" for women and 6'2″ for men. Start the process by finding your local Tall Club and getting a member to sponsor you.

Vegetarian Scholarships: The Vegetarian Resource Group is looking for high school seniors who do not eat meat, fish or fowl and who actively promote the vegetarian lifestyle … “Applicants," the group says on its site, “will be judged on having shown compassion, courage and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian lifestyle/diet." To win one of the two $5,000 scholarships, applicants must write an essay that addresses 16 points, including “your perfect life in five years," and “what restaurants you would recommend to a non-vegetarian."


So, you can probably see that there is money available for a wide variety of talented (or physically blessed) students. While the above may seem to be “out there" as far as qualifications go, you may want to check out the Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship for a real treat. Instead of Walking Dead, you could be walking flushed.


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.