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Scholarships: The Top 10 Strangest Ways to Pay for College

Aug 17, 2007
Scholarships are a great way to pay for college education. The problem is that scholarships are typically merit-based, which means they are usually reserved for students with 4.0 GPAs or star athletes. Thankfully, there are scholarships that rely on other kinds of distinction. Some of these scholarships might be called "non-traditional"; others are downright strange. Here's a list of ten of the more unusual ones out there.

1. The Patrick Kerr Skateboarding Scholarship. You remember when your mother told you that skateboarding was a waste of time? Well, not anymore. Any high school senior-skateboarder with a 2.5 GPA and serious plans on attending college can apply for one of four scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 dollars each.

2. Carnegie Mellon University Bagpipe Scholarship. This scholarship is truly one-of-a-kind - literally. Carnegie Mellon University awards exactly one applicant every year a $7,000 scholarship to study bagpipe. William Wallace would be proud.

3. Chick & Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship. This scholarship needs no explanation. If you know how to call ducks, get yourself down to Stuttgart, Arkansas, to compete for a $1,500 prize for college.

4. The Klingon Language Institute's Kor Memorial Scholarship. Yes, this is a real scholarship based on the popular alien race from Star Trek. The good news is that you don't have to be a Star Trek devotee to be eligible. In fact, you don't even have to speak Klingon. You just need to be an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a language or linguistics program at an accredited university.

Incidentally, there are also several Starfleet Academy Scholarships, also of Star-Trek origins, also $500 each. The Starfleet Scholarships are named for popular actors/characters in the television series and include the Dr. Leonard McCoy Medical Scholarship, the Montgomery Scott Engineering Scholarship, the LeVar Burton Educational Scholarship, and the Patrick Stewart Scholarship for the Performing Arts.

5&6. Billy Barty Foundation Scholarship for Dwarfism and the Tall Clubs International Scholarship. Whether you're big - over 6'2" for men, 5'10" for women - or small - 4'10" to be exact, with a medical form of dwarfism - you could be eligible for a $1,000 scholarship. They even have a scholarship for left-handed students at Juanita College. In fact, there's a scholarship for nearly every physical condition - well, almost. I'm still waiting for a scholarship for people who are "big-boned," if you know what I mean...

7. Duct Tape "Stuck at Prom" Scholarship Contest. This scholarship is open to all students who are attending a high school prom. Applicants enter as a couple and attend high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. The first place prize consists of a $3,000 scholarship for each member of the winning couple and a $3,000 cash prize to the school that hosted the prom.

8. Michigan Llama Association Scholarship. If you're studying veterinary medicine at Michigan State University College, and if you're interested in learning about and working with llamas, you could be eligible for a $500 scholarship sponsored by The Michigan Lama Association.

9. Excellence in Predicting the Future Award. This is not exactly what it sounds like. Any would-be Nostradamus need not apply. Any would-be Alan Greenspan, on the other hand, should. The "Excellence in Predicting the Future Award" is actually a contest for students interested in economics. Participants "buy and sell" future predictions in the manner of buying stocks. A $400 cash gift is awarded every two months by Troy Studios to encourage students to pursue economics or simply to learn more about the world they live in.

And finally...

10. Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship. Before you make any snarky remarks about "sucking-up" this scholarship, be advised that it awards $5,000 annually to one lucky student pursuing vacuum coating technology at an accredited university. I don't know about you, but suddenly vacuums seem much more interesting than Klingons or llamas.

The moral of the story? Basically, it's that there are innumerable scholarships out there for potential college students. So whether you are a Trekkie, an aspiring Tony Hawk, a bagpiper, or even if you like ducks or duct tape, there's a scholarship for you. In short, if you can't find a little extra money for college, then, frankly, you're just not trying.
About the Author
Benjamin Welch has been a college instructor in writing and composition for nearly six years. When he's not teaching or playing golf, he offers financial aid and scholarships advice.
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