Weird Scholarships

Weird Scholarships

Many people plug away at their computers in search of scholarships in the hopes they can partially fund their higher education.  While this is admirable and necessary, it is also sometimes futile.  Many people probably are not going to win any of the scholarships that Google listed for the “scholarships” search term.  They need to get creative.

The key is to focus on the less competitive scholarships.  What kind of scholarships though?  That is easy: “weird scholarships.”  These are target niche scholarships that are only for a specific subset of people, or they are just completely random awards (they might make you say, “why the heck is there a scholarship for this?”).  In order to maximize their chances of winning free money, people need to look for these opportunities. Do you have glasses? Do you have red hair? Do you have a twin? These may not apply to some, but the point has been made.

Though many of these scholarships don’t offer huge payouts like the most popular ones, the chances of winning them are considerably higher. Some people can win five of these before winning one that Google lists on their first page.

Overall, it is a new approach to the scholarship game that offers better chances to achieving financial aid.  Weird scholarships do not accumulate interest, and they do not need to be paid back.  They are the perfect alternative to student loans.

Tips for Finding Weird Scholarships

Stay Organized

Before you start applying, consider setting up an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet to keep track of your efforts. All of these are completely free and will allow you to go back to see what work you have done. Some things to include: the name of the scholarship, the deadline, whether the application is submitted, contact information, when the results are announced, and the end result. Throughout the process, it will get easier to optimize the spreadsheet into a more readable and maintainable document.

Find Your Niches

To come up with potential weird scholarship targets, one thing is required: self-reflection. What kind of talents do you have? What makes you unique? What degree are you pursuing? What is something you’ve done that not many others can say? The list goes on and on, but it is extremely important to cover as many aspects of yourself as possible.  These niches do not even have to apply to one person’s characteristics or past experiences.  They can just be unusual.  These scholarships just need to be random and unknown which applies to a huge range of things.

Download Copies of Your Application

It was mentioned before that the same, or almost the same, application can be used for many different scholarships. At the end of an application, some type of confirmation page with all of your info appears. Download this if the option is available, and if not, just take a screenshot! This could save tons of time, and it can only make applications easier next time.

Apply Throughout Your College Career

Many students will apply for some scholarships while in high school or during the summer before starting college, but almost everyone stops there. Many scholarships only require that you’re entering college or are still enrolled. There are even scholarships that are specifically for upperclassmen!  Keep applying throughout college; in fact, make it a weekly task.  This can only help.

Do not Give Up

Straight up, applying for scholarships is not fun. It is extremely easy to lose interest. Play some music or sit down in front of the TV. Try anything to make the process more enjoyable. Remember, scholarship applications are not timed, so there is no need to rush through them as long as the deadline is hit.

Final Thoughts

Student loan debt sucks! The stories of people working to pay them off well past into their later years are everywhere. It is a common trend. Avoid taking out these loans at all costs. Weird scholarships offer a way to save trouble with loans before they are even disbursed.

Weird Scholarships

Some of the opportunities listed below are perfect examples of a weird scholarship.  There are specific opportunities to look into, but there are also some more general niches to help the reader think about some weird ideas.

Scholarship Red

The creator of this scholarship, being a natural-born redhead, figured her rare hair color must have an award of its own. After scouring the web, she was disappointed to find that there wasn’t one specifically for her tone of hair. That is when she decided to create Scholarship Red. Scholarship Red is a $500 award and it is one of the only scholarships in the world specifically for natural redheads. In order to be eligible for this scholarship, first and foremost, you must be a natural redhead; no hair dye or coloring is allowed. You also must be a high school senior that is a United States citizen and is attending school in the United States. You have to have a grade point average of 2.5 or above and already be enrolled in an accredited two-year or four-year college or university. Along with your application, you need to provide proof of your grades by submitting your high school transcripts. You also need to provide evidence that you are truly a redhead by sending two color photographs, one from when you were a child and one from the present-day. The final part of the process involves you explaining what it means to be a redhead to you. You can do this in any form you like, video, drawing, essay, etc., but the more creative you can be with it, the more likely your submission will stand out among the crowd.

Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship

For all of you golf lovers out there, our first unusual scholarship is just the right fit for you! If you are currently a caddie at a country club or golf course, then the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship should be your go-to sports scholarship. This is a full-tuition award, as well as covering the costs of housing, for a total of four years. You don’t have to be the start in Caddyshack to be eligible for this scholarship, however, you must fit a few criteria. You need to be sponsored by the golf or country club where you work and you must have a strong caddie record, exceptional grades, and financial need. If you are interested in applying, obtain the application password from your club and turn in all necessary materials by June 15th. For the application, as well as to find out more information about the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship, head over to their online website.

Tall Clubs International Foundation/Billy Barty Foundation

The next unique scholarships on our list are both tall and short scholarships. You heard that right! Simply for your height, you can win awards to help you with your college tuition. Tall Clubs International is an organization that was created for tall people and each year they sponsor a competition in which they grant $1,000 in scholarships to winning students, who meet the minimum height requirement of course. You can find more information on the competition and award at TCI’s website. On the other end of the height spectrum, there are also organizations that will grant scholarships for being short. The Billy Barty Foundation was founded by the late dwarf actor. It distributes $1,000 scholarships to two different students each year that have been diagnosed with dwarfism. This application and scholarship can be found online at various different sites, but potential applicants need to contact the Vice President of the foundation.

Collegiate Inventors Competition

If you love to invent and create new and exciting products, then the third unusual scholarship is right up your alley. The Collegiate Inventors Competition is an annual scholarship contest that provides a $10,000 first-place prize for undergraduates and a $15,000 first-place prize for graduates who create the most brilliant and beneficial innovations out there. This isn’t your duct-tape-in-the-dorm type of contest, however; one of the previous winners had mastered how to implant human liver cells into mice as a means to drug test. If you think your genius creation has what it takes, apply by June 24th and start brainstorming! For more information about the Collegiate Inventors Competition, make your way over to their website.

Star Fleet Academy Scholarship

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “Man, I sure wish there was a Star Trek scholarship,” then we’ve got you covered. This unusual scholarship is for dedicated Star Trek fans that are members of the Starfleet Academy, the International Star Trek Fan Club Association. As long as you have been a member of this club for at least one year, you are eligible for the Starfleet Academy Scholarship, which is granted to undergraduate and graduate students and is given in the amount of at least $500. There are a large variety of different scholarships that the fan club sponsors, all of which can be found on their website. Have your application turned in by June 30th in order to be considered. You can find all of the paperwork and information online.

Answers.com Scholarship Fund

Another unusual scholarships is the Answers.com Scholarship Fund. Answers.com is a website that is known for helping students get their questions answered by other students and people in general. This scholarship wants to reward those who answered 50 or more questions on the website between the time period of January 1st and March 28th. If you are one of those helpful people, you could win one of 10 scholarships of $1,000, one of two scholarships valued at $2,500, or even the grand prize of one $5,000 scholarship for tuition and costs of college. You can find the application for the Answers.com Scholarship Fund at their website.

10 Ways to Make Scholarships Love You

10 Ways to Make Scholarships Love You

If you are a current or incoming college student, chances are you plan to apply for college scholarships.  As more and more students try to avoid significant student loan debt, competition for winning these college scholarship opportunities continues to increase.  When it comes to acing that scholarship essay and making your application stand-out from the pack, there are a number of strategies you can employ.  Here are ten tips for making your scholarship application a winning one.

MEET THE SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINES

The number one rule for a successful scholarship application is to make sure you meet every single application deadline.  In almost all cases, applications that are received after the scholarship deadline will not even be considered.  Pay close attention to deadlines, and make yourself a calendar to track all of the important dates.  Make sure you leave yourself with a big enough window of time to write an exceptional scholarship essay as well as plenty of time for those writing your scholarship recommendations to get their portion of the work done.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP

Scholarships can be extremely particular in their eligibility requirements of their scholarship applicants.  As scholarship applications take up so much time and energy, be positive that you meet every single eligibility guideline before doing all of the work on the application.  Additionally, it would be extremely unfair for you to ask teachers and guidance counselors to take the time to write a recommendation letter for a scholarship for which you are not even eligible.  Do thorough research before deciding which scholarships are the best fit for you.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PEOPLE FOR YOUR RECOMMENDATION LETTERS

Recommendation letters carry a significant amount of weight for many scholarship competitions.  When considering what teacher, coach, or advisor you would like to write a recommendation letter for you, make sure you are intentionally selecting those who can speak to your work ethic, academic and extracurricular success, and the specific attributes that make you deserving of winning a scholarship.  It is also a smart idea to have a discussion with those writing your recommendation letter.  Ask them if they feel that they have positive things to say about you and work, and explain your reasoning for asking them to write a recommendation later rather than someone else.

FOLLOW THE APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS CLOSELY

With the amount of time and energy you will contribute to completing a scholarship application, it is so important that you pay close attention to all of the instructions.  It would truly be a shame to have your application be disqualified because you missed an important part of the instructions or accidentally skipped an essay question.  As scholarships receive so many applicants, those who seem to not be able to follow the instructions will almost certainly fail to be considered.

DO NOT USE A GENERIC ESSAY

Although many scholarship applications call for essays that have similar topics or themes, it is a wise choice to write a new essay for every scholarship.  This will take more time and energy, but it will make your essays stand out compared to other essays that may be generic and “one size fits all” for every scholarship competition.  When possible, do your research on the company or foundation sponsoring the scholarship.  Try to tie your essay topic into their mission and values.  By showcasing that you understand the company and what is important to them, you will demonstrate your value as a scholarship recipient.

UNDERSTAND HOW TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR ACCOMPLLISHMENTS

It is important that you find a balance between writing about your accomplishments and coming across as likable and humble in your scholarship essays.  The best way to highlight yourself in essays is to focus on your passion and what you have learned.  In most cases, your passion for whatever you are involved in (sports, music, community service, etc.) is what probably led you to your accomplishments.  By discussing your passions and what opportunities they have brought you as well as the lessons they have taught you, you will be able to highlight your achievements without seeming as if you are bragging.

DO NOT EXAGGERATE

Although it is crucial for you to share your successes and accomplishments with the scholarship granters, be sure not to exaggerate or lie about your achievements.  There are too many ways for people to corroborate that your information is correct, and it can be very easy to see through lies you may put on your application.  Honesty is the best strategy in the case of your applications, though you shouldn’t be afraid to highlight and discuss the things you really have accomplished.

PROOFREAD YOUR APPLICATIONS

Possibly one of the most important steps to writing a winning scholarship application is to proofread prior to submission.  One of the best strategies to catch as many errors as possible is to print your application and read it out loud.  You should also share your application with a few trusted proofreaders, such as your guidance counselor or a favorite teacher.  Most people will be more than willing to assist you, and submitting a polished and clean application will make a significant impact on those selecting the scholarship recipients.

MAKE COPIES OF YOUR APPLICATIONS

Before submitting your final application, make both electronic and physical copies.  If you always have a plan for the worst to happen, such as your application getting lost in the mail, you will be able to devise a solution thanks to your forward planning.  If possible, try to request a confirmation that your application arrived.  You could do this by sending it through certified and tracked mail if it is a paper application or calling or emailing someone on the scholarship committee to confirm if they share their contact information with you.

FINISH ALL OF YOUR APPLICATIONS

You won’t receive any scholarship awards if you fail to complete the application!  No matter how much time and energy each application takes, it’s important to give yourself the best chance possible to help fund your college career by putting the effort into your scholarship applications.

10 Common Scholarship Scams

10 Common Scholarship Scams

With so many incoming and current college students applying for scholarships to supplement the high price tag of their college educations, information and opportunities for scholarship opportunities seem to be everywhere.  Unfortunately, not all of these opportunities are legitimate.  Scholarship scams can and do happen all too often, so it is imperative that students and their families remain vigilant to notice those red flags throughout their scholarship search process.  As expected, the best and most obvious advice to follow when avoiding scams is that if something seems too good to be true, that is almost definitely the case.  Additionally, it is important to note that if you are a victim of a scam, you should absolutely report it to prevent the same thing from happening to another innocent scholarship applicant.

Though avoiding scholarship scams often comes down to doing your research and using common sense, there are a number of common scholarship scams for you to be wary of.  This list shares ten common scholarship scams that you should be sure to avoid.

SCHOLARSHIP MATCHING SERVICES WITH FEES

There are a number of very reputable free scholarship match tools that allow you to make an account that creates a personalized list of scholarships for which you are an eligible fit.  Some of these reputable sites include Scholarships.com, Fastweb, and College Board’s bigfuture scholarship search tool.  If a scholarship match program charges you money to create an account and find your matches, it is most likely a scam.  Even if the resource promises a refund for a list of your matches, you will most likely never see that money again.  With so many free resources to find scholarship matches, be sure to avoid those with fees.

SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS WITH FEES

The entire point of a scholarship is for a foundation, non-profit organization, or corporation to provide sources of money to high achieving applicants that will help them to fund their college education.  There is no reason for a scholarship competition to ask for a fee.  Even if you would receive a scholarship from a competition that takes a fee from you, with the amount of applicants each scholarship gets, the company or scholarship funder is most likely making a significant profit rather than positively impacting someone in need of additional money for college.  Avoid any scholarship application that might ask for a fee or for your credit card or checking account number.

SENDING MONEY TO CLAIM A SCHOLARSHIP

If you are notified that you received a scholarship but you have to send someone money in order to claim it, that is most definitely a scholarship scam.  Much like you should never have to pay to enter a scholarship competition, you should never have to pay to receive any scholarship money you supposedly won.

STUDENT LOANS WITH ADVANCE FEES

Sometimes you may receive an offer for a low-interest student loan to supplement your college tuition costs that will ask you for a fee along with your loan application.  This is a clear scam as a loan provider should never ask you for a fee in order for you to receive the loan.  Advance fees may masquerade themselves in language such as “processing fees” or “application fees”, so be extremely observant of a supposed loan provider asking you for money up-front.

SCHOLARSHIPS THAT REQUIRE TOO MUCH INFORMATION

Another common scholarship scam is that a company will sell your personal information to marketing agencies.  Avoid scholarship applications that ask you for more personal information rather than the standard name, address, email address, and phone number.  Remember to never share your credit card or bank account information with a scholarship application, even if the company says that they just require that information to “hold” the scholarship for you.  Be very aware of the kinds of questions and information scholarships require of you to make sure they are legitimate opportunities.

WINNING A SCHOLARSHIP YOU DID NOT ENTER

If you receive a call or an email saying that you won a scholarship that you did not even enter, it is almost definitely a scam.  Unless it is someone reputable representing your high school or college and granting you with a scholarship award because of your achievements, be extremely cautious about believing that you won any sort of scholarship competition for which you didn’t even apply.

A GUARANTEE OF WINNING A SCHOLARSHIP

If a company or organization uses language that suggests that you are guaranteed to receive a scholarship, that is most certainly a scam.  Reputable scholarship granters will never guarantee that applicants will win anything.  Pay close attention to the words these companies use to recognize if they are making false promises.

A PROMISE TO APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP ON YOUR BEHALF

A common scholarship scam is that an individual or company will promise to complete scholarship applications for you.  Though scholarship applications do take a significant amount of time and energy, you are the only person who can and should be completing your own applications.  Anyone who promises to do the work for you is most likely scamming you to get your personal information.

LIMITED TIME SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS

Recognize that there is a difference between a scholarship deadline put in place by a reputable organization and the promise of a “limited time offer” for a scholarship opportunity that is almost definitely a scam.  A real scholarship competition will not award prizes on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Any pressure of time sensitivity other than a normal deadline for application is an obvious red flag.

FINANCIAL AID SEMINARS

Finally, a common scam is that of free seminars that promise to share useful information with you about the collegiate financial aid process.  While sometimes colleges or reputable companies and organizations can host useful pre-college seminars, most of these other free financial aid seminars are scams to trick college students and their families into shelling out significant amounts of money on scholarship matching services or loans with incredibly high interest rates.  Be aware of the potential for this scam when considering any similar seminars you may be invited to attend.

Five Tips on Winning Scholarships

5 Tips on Winning Scholarship

As the price for a college education continues to dramatically rise, it is imperative for students to have a plan to receive scholarships that can supplement those incredibly high college costs.  According to CollegeBoard, a leading source for collegiate planning resources, two-thirds of all full-time enrolled college students use scholarships and grants to pay for college.  When considering how to pay for college, there is little question from both students and families that finding scholarships and grant funding where there is no obligation to pay anything back is the ideal situation.  This is particularly true considering the alternative route of graduating college with inconceivable amounts of student loan debt looming over your future.

Scholarship money is out there.  The financial experts at Debt.org remark that $3.3 billion in scholarships and grants are awarded to students every year by various private sources such as foundations, service organizations, and corporations.  With so much financial support available, it is crucial that students and families understand the best way to find, apply, and receive this scholarship money.  These five tips will serve as a guide for successfully navigating through the scholarship process.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Much like the college application process, the scholarship application process requires a significant amount of time and research.  An excellent way to start is by creating a free account on a scholarship search database such as Unigo Scholarship Match or Scholarships.com.  With these tools, you can create an account with all of your information, and the resource will give you a personalized list of scholarships for which you are eligible to apply.

LOOK LOCAL

Although there are countless national scholarships available, there are also most likely a number of scholarships opportunities in your surrounding community.  The best place to start in this search is with your high school teachers and guidance counselor.  Your local library might also have a community board with various opportunities, and many times, scholarships will be posted to the public.  You can also find scholarship opportunities in local newspapers and on community television or radio stations.  If your county or town has a community website, they will often use it as a platform to share a list of scholarship opportunities for local graduating seniors.  It is also wise to check-in with your local branch of non-profit organizations or community foundations, such as the Elks National Foundation.  You should also do specific internet searches for memorial scholarships in your community as there are often many available opportunities.

GET ORGANIZED

Whether you use a spreadsheet, calendar, or binder system, it’s important to stay organized throughout the entire scholarship process.  As you find local and national scholarships that you’re eligible for, build some sort of organizational list or database for yourself that will help you keep track of all the important information.  Pay close attention to the application deadline, whether you need to apply online or by mail, and what supplement materials you will need to submit along with your application.  Often, scholarships will require recommendation letters from guidance counselors, teachers, club advisors, or coaches.  It’s important to give them plenty of time to write a thoughtful and intentional recommendation for your application.  Track all of your deadlines on your calendar closely, and aim to have all of your application materials, including recommendations, submitted at least two weeks before the deadline to give yourself a buffer of time in case something does not go as planned.

START EARLY

Don’t wait until the middle or end of your senior year to start thinking about your scholarship applications.  Many scholarship application deadlines happen much earlier than you would expect.  Some deadlines occur the summer before you even enter your senior year of high school.  There are some scholarships that are even specifically available for high school juniors.  The earlier you start your search, the more scholarships you will find in time to apply.

Additionally, you should start thinking about the general things you can do throughout high school to improve your chances at receiving college scholarships.  Are you involved in as many extracurriculars that you can fit in your schedule?  Do any of these clubs and activities give you the opportunity to do community service or take on a leadership position?  Just like with your college applications, scholarship applications look for candidates who are well-rounded and succeeding both in and out of the classroom.  The amount of volunteer work and public service you do in high school will also make a significant amount of difference on your scholarship applications.  Scholarship funders want to help students who help others and are making obvious positive impacts in their communities.  It’s never too early to think about how you can improve your scholarship applications with volunteer work and extracurriculars.  In the best case scenario, there are many scholarships that are additionally available only to students who participate in some of these extracurriculars, such as Key Club or the National Honor Society.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ODDS

When selecting which scholarships you should apply for, don’t overlook the numbers.  Many national scholarships will have hundreds of thousands of applicants.  Apply for a mix of national and local scholarships to better your chances of winning.  You also should not underestimate how useful it is to apply for a number of scholarships with smaller award amounts.  So many students choose to only apply for scholarships for large amounts of money, and while those are excellent, there are so many smaller award scholarships that will have fewer applicants.  All the smaller awards will add up fast and be significantly beneficial when it comes to paying for your room and board, meal plans, and textbook fees.

Pay particular attention to scholarships that take a bit more work, like those with more essays or those requiring special application materials.  The longer a scholarship takes to complete, the less students will apply.  If you’re determined and apply for these more difficult opportunities, it will often be rewarding since you will have less competition for the scholarship.  When you focus on the numbers and your chances, odds are your hard work will be worth it and will definitely pay off.