Usually we think of college scholarships as elite awards available only to the top students who have excelled in academics, athletics, or extracurriculars. Sometimes, students who have steadily made their way through high school without particularly standing out in any single area may feel as though a college scholarship is an unrealistic expectation.

If you feel this describes you, there’s good news. Many alternative scholarships exist, some in niche skill sets, others in slightly unconventional specialties, and still more that reward quirky or creative thinking. There are even some that are rewarded based on sheer chance or luck. If you’re an out-of-box thinker looking for a college scholarship to reward your ingenuity or just plain zaniness, read on.

Here are 10 of the weirdest but completely legitimate college scholarships we could find.

 

Create a Greeting Card Contest

What Is It: This is a contest to design a greeting card for the opportunity to win a college scholarship. In addition, the winning entry will be made into an actual greeting card by The Gallery Collection.

Who Can Enter: All high school, college and university students enrolled at any time during the latter half of 2016 in an academic program designed to conclude with the awarding of a diploma or a degree are eligible. The contest is open to legal residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, as well as American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Applicants must be 14 years of age or older.

What Are the Prizes: One $10,000 scholarship and $1,000 to the winner’s school.

Selection criteria: A panel of objective judges goes through the entries on a monthly basis and selects up to 100 designs per month that will be posted to The Gallery Collection’s page for voting. Voters are able to vote once per day. The top ten (10) designs with the most votes automatically move on to the finalist round. The panel of judges will then select a winner from the top 10 finalists based on:

1. Overall aesthetic appeal

2. Quality of execution

3. Creativity and Originality

4. Successful incorporation of design elements

5. Appropriateness for use as a greeting card

6. Attractiveness to The Gallery Collection’s corporate and consumer customers

7. Suitability as a design in Prudent’s Gallery Collection greeting card line

Important Deadlines: The Contest begins at 12:01:00 a.m. Eastern Time (“ET”) May 31, 2016 and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. ET, March 2, 2017.

 

Optimist International Scholarships

What Is It: These are essay and oratorical contests promoting self-worth and positivity in response to an annual prompt.

Who Can Enter: The scholarships are open to young people under 19 years of age who have not yet graduated from high school or the equivalent and who attend school in the United States, Canada or the Caribbean.

What Are the Prizes: Four $2500 scholarships

Selection Criteria: Interested students must contact their local Optimist Club and enter through a local contest. You will need to submit an essay on the pre-assigned topic. Local contest winners are then chosen to advance to regional and national contests. To find a contact, please e-mail the Programs Department at programs@optimist.org.

Important Deadlines: The deadline for Clubs to submit their winning essay to the District Chair is February 28, 2017. The deadline for Districts to submit their winner’s information to Optimist International is April 15, 2017. Contact local Clubs for local deadlines.

 

Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship

What Is It: This is an essay contest for graduating U.S. high school students who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities.

You will need to submit an essay that addresses 16 questions, including  how you promoted vegetarianism in your high school and/or community and how you expect to promote vegetarianism in college and beyond.

Who Can Enter: This contest is open to U.S. high school students who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities.

What Are the Prizes: One award of $10,000 and two awards of $5,000

Selection Criteria: Essays will be judged on demonstrated compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle.

Important Deadlines: Applications and essays must be postmarked on or before February 20, 2017. Early submission is encouraged.

 

 Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest Scholarship

What Is It: This is a duck calling scholarship associated with the World’s Champion Duck Calling Contest, held each year in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

Who Can Enter: The contest is open to any current graduating high school senior. A copy of the contestant’s high school transcript must be provided at registration along with a proper ID.

What Are the Prizes: The first-place winner will receive $2,000. Second place will receive $1,000, 3rd place will receive $750, and 4th place will receive $500.

Selection Criteria: Selection of the winner will rely on the categories established for the judging of international duck calling contests.

Important Deadlines: Students must be present at the contest held annually in Stuttgart, Arkansas during Thanksgiving week each year.

 

American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship

What Is It: This contest aims to educate the public about the life-saving properties of automatic fire sprinklers through a High School Senior College Scholarship Contest in which students enter by completing an online quiz (8 questions) and submitting an entry form. It takes approximately 10 – 15 minutes to complete the quiz and entry form.

Who Can Enter: Open to 2016-2017 High School Seniors who want to pursue a college degree or trade school education. Entrants must be citizens or aliens legally residing in the USA and the Winner must enroll for classes beginning no later than Fall 2017 session.

What Are the Prizes: Up to ten $2,000 College Scholarships.

Selection Criteria: Scholarship winners are randomly selected by a computer-generated drawing from among valid entries received at the conclusion of the contest period. Odds of winning are based on total number of entries received.

Important Deadlines: Entries Accepted beginning Sept. 7, 2016. Entries must be submitted by Apr. 7, 2017.

 

Stuck at Prom Scholarship

What Is It: Sponsored by Duck Tape, this is a contest to design and create prom outfits using Duck Tape® and wear them to prom for a chance to win a college scholarship.

Who Can Enter: Entrants must be legal residents of the United States and Canada, including the District of Columbia, but excluding Maryland, Vermont, Colorado and the Province of Quebec, who are at least 14 years of age or older. You must also attend a high school, home school association or other school-sanctioned prom in the 2016 calendar year.

What Are the Prizes: First Place: $10,000. Second Place: $5,000. Third Place: $3,000. Runners-Up: $1,000. Singles Winners: $1,000.

Selection Criteria: The top ten entries are selected by judges based on: Workmanship (20%), Originality (20%), Use of Color (20%), Accessories (20%), Use of Duct Tape (20%). Online voting of the top ten finalists is used to select winners.

Important Deadlines: Entries open in early April and close at the end of May. Ten finalists are announced in mid-June, and voting closes during the beginning of July. Winners are announced in mid-July.

 

Foreclosure.com Scholarship Contest

What Is It: This is an essay contest responding to an annual prompt always somehow related to the housing industry.

Who Can Enter: The contest is open to legal residents of the fifty United States, the U.S. Territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who are thirteen (13) years of age or older at the time of application and who are currently enrolled in a U.S. accredited, post-secondary institution of higher learning (college, university, or trade school).

What Are the Prizes: Four winners will each receive a scholarship prize in the amount of $1,000. One of the five winners will be awarded an additional $5,000 top prize.

Selection criteria: Entries are judge on writing ability (25 percent), creativity (25 percent), originality (25 percent), and overall excellence (25 percent). In the event of a tie, the essay with the higher overall excellence score will be declared the winner.

Important Deadlines: Beginning in early February of each year, students submit a completed scholarship application along with an original, previously unpublished response to the scholarship topic online at the Foreclosure.com website no later than mid-December.

 

Flavor of the Month Scholarship

What Is It: This contest, held annually during the National Ice Cream Month of July, asks entrants to submit a written response of 250 words or less to the question:

Summer and ice cream go hand-in-hand. In fact, July is National Ice Cream Month, and that’s the inspiration behind this award. We think people are very similar to ice cream; some are nutty, others a little exotic, while some are very comforting. If you were an ice cream flavor, which would you be and why?

Who Can Enter: Entrants must be 13 years of age or older at the time of application and must be legal residents of the fifty United States or the District of Columbia. To be eligible, entrants need to be currently enrolled (or enroll no later than the fall of 2023) in an accredited post-secondary institution of higher education.

What Are the Prizes: One $1,500 scholarship

Selection Criteria: A qualified panel of judges will select one winner based on the criteria of writing ability (25%), creativity (25%), originality (25%), and overall excellence (25%). In the event of a tie, the winner will be the Applicant with the higher score for overall excellence.

Important Deadlines: Beginning July 31, 2016, entrants may submit a complete scholarship application online at the Sponsor’s Website. Entries must be received no later than July 31, 2017 and winners are announced by November.

 

Facing Acne Scholarship

What Is It: Applicants submit a short video answering the questions below. Videos should be kept to five minutes or less. Questions to address are:

  1. How has the Internet changed the way you take care of your health?
  2. What future developments do you hope to see in the use of the Internet as a tool for maintaining and improving your health?

Who Can Enter: To enter, you must be a high school senior (home schooling is accepted) in the U.S. OR a college student currently enrolled in an accredited U.S.- based college or university. You must also be a U.S. Citizen, have a high school diploma (or GED) or expect to receive one before the 2017-2018 school year, be working towards a degree at an accredited U.S. Based college or university, or planning to do so, and have and maintain a 3.00 GPA.

What Are the Prizes: One $2,000 scholarship is awarded.

Selection Criteria: The video that thoroughly answers the questions given in the most original, creative, entertaining and informative way will win the scholarship. Presentation is important. Not only should the video be creative, entertaining and informative, but also remember that editing and production are important. That means you don’t want to just talk to the camera the whole time. Your response should clearly answer the questions above, but it should do so in a creative way. Be original, use different locations, effects and transitions, and of course, make sure the video and audio quality are up to par.

Important Deadlines: The deadline for entry is March 31, 2017, 11:59 pm PST.

 

 Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship

What Is It: This is an essay contest that asks entrants to write a response in 250 words or less to the prompt:

Imagine that your high school/college has been overrun with Zombies. Your math professor, the cafeteria ladies and even your best friend have all joined the walking dead. Use your brain to flesh out a plan to avoid the Zombies, including where you would hide and the top 5 things you would bring with you to stay alive.

Who Can Enter: Contest is open to U.S. Citizens who are at least 13 years old. Entrants must be currently enrolled (or enroll no later than the fall of 2021) in an accredited post-secondary institution of higher education.

What Are the Prizes: One $2,000 college scholarship.

Selection Criteria: A qualified panel of judges will select one winner based on the criteria of writing ability (25%), creativity (25%), originality (25%), and overall excellence (25%). In the event of a tie, the winner will be the Applicant with the higher score for overall excellence.

Important Deadlines: Essays and applications must be submitted by October 31, 2017. The Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship winner will be notified by email or phone on or around January 31, 2017.

As you can see from the above list, there are plenty of non-traditional scholarships out there. From vegetarian advocates to duck calling experts to avid fans of the Walking Dead who are already planning for the apocalypse, there is something out there to suit almost any interest. You just need to know where to look.

 

To learn more about college scholarships, check out these CollegeVine posts:

Kate Sundquist

Kate Sundquist

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.
Kate Sundquist

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