What's the best scholarship for you? It's the one you are uniquely qualified for. There are hundreds of unusual scholarships looking for just the right person. Find out how to discover if that right person is you!
Mention "college scholarships" and most people think of academic and athletic scholarships. But not every scholarship requires great grades or athletic prowess. Many scholarships have unusual requirements that someone is bound to match. Could that someone be you?
Scholarships That Don't Focus on Scholarship
Although at least decent grades may be required, many scholarships are awarded based on non-academic requirements. Some of these are relatively easy to meet, such as religious, ethnic, and geographic requirements. For example, there may be a scholarship just for students who live in your hometown.
Some requirements are relatively unusual. For example, there are scholarships for amateur radio operators, asthma patients, blind students, bowlers, knitters, children of veterans, choral singers, debaters, entrepreneurs, farmers, feminists, French speakers, gardeners, golfers, grandchildren of alumni, horseback riders, lesbians, band members, nudists, overweight students, tall women, water skiers, and workers at some McDonald's restaurants, just to name a few.
Such scholarships are sponsored by individuals, organizations, and businesses. Others are offered by colleges, often on behalf of alumni who provide the funding.
Scholarships That Aren't Called Scholarships
Many colleges and private groups give students cash awards that aren't technically scholarships. For instance, a student may receive an award for submitting the best poem, essay, play, book, musical composition, or live performance. Academic history usually has little or nothing to do with these awards. Contest money is typically awarded to you in a lump sum, to be spent as you wish.
How to Find Unusual Scholarships
As you look for scholarships, consider all your possible qualifications. Make a list of your hobbies, interests, memberships, ethnicity, heritage, hometown and county, unique physical characteristics, languages, employers, future career, and anything else that makes you stand out. Any of them could make you eligible for scholarship money. And don't forget your parents. Their employers, professions, military service, memberships, and even the colleges they attended may make you eligible. Search for these qualities as you use scholarship search tools and investigate colleges.
Don't assume, however, that because the scholarship is unusual that it is not competitive. Some "wacky" contests are very well-known, such as the Duck Brand duct tape "Stuck at Prom" Scholarship Contest, where contestants create prom attire made entirely of duct tape. In general, the more local or more unique the scholarship, the better are your chances.
With so many unusual scholarships out there, it is likely you will find one that fits. You can begin your scholarship hunt with CollegeData's Scholarship Finder, which lets you search an extensive database of awards. Just make sure you understand the scholarship's rules and requirements before you apply.