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Scholarships for Everyone


(ARA) - Parents hoping their college-bound children will scratch up a few extra dollars for their higher education probably aren’t encouraged to see them riding skateboards, designing prom fashions with duct tape, or studying Klingon. But these activities could, in fact, pay off.

College scholarships are no longer the exclusive realm of gifted athletes and flawless test takers. More organizations are making money available to students with an array of interests and talents. Jean Danielson, director of the educational research department for FastWeb (www.fastweb.com), the leading scholarship search Web site, says, “Sponsors of scholarships try to help students be well-rounded people. Academics are critical to success in a collegiate environment, but so is one's ability to think creatively.”

Creative thinkers might try to win an award from The Collegiate Inventors Program. Their $50,000 grand prize goes to a student whose inventive idea will be of value to society. Then there’s The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship, which awards one $5,000 and three $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors who skateboard. Or, for the fashion conscious, high school students who attend their prom in garments made from duct tape can win $2,500 each from Duck brand duct tape.

FinAid (www.finaid.org), an award winning financial aid resource Web site, has an entire page of unusual scholarships. FinAid’s publisher, Mark Kantrowitz, added the page after continually fielding questions about a scholarship for left-handed students. (It’s the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship for left-handed students attending Juniata College). “My personal favorite is the Duct Tape scholarship,” Kantrowitz says. “The costumes the candidates create are amazing.”

The FinAid list (www.finaid.org/scholarships/unusual.phtml) also includes the Kor Memorial Scholarship from the Klingon Language Institute, which encourages scholarship in the field of language study. There are also awards for twins, caddies, short students, tall students and everyone in between.

“Unconventional scholarships acknowledge that students are diverse and creative people. The same student who earns an honor scholarship for English composition may also create space art,” Danielson says. And that artwork might win the student the SPAACSE Lilliane Web Art Scholarship which is sponsored by a group of artists who encourage space art as a means of expressing the beauty of spaceflight.

So how do students make sense of the wide array of available scholarships? One way is to register with a Web site like FastWeb (www.fastweb.com). This free service uses a detailed profile to match students to awards in its database. With more than 1.3 million scholarships cataloged, there’s a good chance you’ll find an award you qualify for. Students might also reach out to organizations affiliated with their interests and hobbies.

Whether it comes from a Fortune 500 company or a local civic organization, today there are more opportunities than ever for students to use their unique talents to find money for college.


Courtesy of ARA Content