Five Unusual Scholarships

Financial need and academic merit have traditionally been the primary criteria on which scholarships are awarded. A whole other class of unorthodox financial rewards, however, is also available to college students. Learn about some of these strange scholarships.

By Douglas Fehlen

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Ursinus College Creative Writing Award

For literary types interested in pursuing a career in letters, the Ursinus College Creative Writing Award represents an excellent opportunity to attend a liberal arts school on scholarship. The winner of this award not only receives $30,000 annually for undergraduate study, but also has the opportunity to spend freshman year living in 300 Curtis Hall - the dorm room J.D. Salinger called home for one semester in 1938.

The recipient of the scholarship is determined in large measure by a portfolio of student fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry or a combination of genres. The school is 'looking for an unusual perspective, for quirky brilliance, for a voice, not necessarily the kind that can be measured by conventional standards.' Applicants are asked to complete a short application form and submit no more than ten pages of writing.

Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship

Scholarship money for being left-handed? Yes. The Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship provides awards of $1,500 to $2,000 to southpawed students at Juniata College. The small liberal arts school in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania has handed out scholarships to lefties since 1979. Awards are reserved for sophomores, juniors and seniors attending Juniata.

Just being a left-hander, though, won't guarantee your selection for an award. Scholarship winners are selected from the pool of left-handed students based on academic performance. Lefties at last enjoy an advantage after suffering years of discrimination with scissors or desks.

Tall Clubs International Student Scholarships

Are you tall, under 21 and headed to your first year of college in the fall? You may be in line for some scholarship money. Tall Clubs International is a social organization for tall people that helps provide for its own. In support of its mission 'to promote tall awareness among tall men and women, and in the community,' the organization provides scholarships of up to $1,000 to women who are at least 5'10 and men 6'2 and taller.

If you tower over more vertically challenged peers, you can become eligible for this financial award by contacting the Tall Clubs International Member Club nearest you. Local affiliates are listed at the organization's website, where you can also learn about efforts to advocate for more legroom on airliners and initiatives addressing Marfan Syndrome.

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The Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarships

Did you know your dietary choices could help you earn a scholarship? It's true. The Vegetarian Resource Group, a Baltimore-based nonprofit promoting vegetarianism and healthy, sustainable eating, offers two scholarships of $5,000. Recipients of the award are chosen based on efforts they have made to promote vegetarianism in their communities and schools. Those who are selected typically have displayed exemplary compassion and commitment in advocating for a vegetarian lifestyle.

Students who are interested in applying for this scholarship must complete an essay that outlines school and community actions they've taken to advance vegetarianism. Applicants are asked to provide information on their conceptions of vegetarianism, why they're vegetarian and how they plan to promote the lifestyle in college.

Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Scholarship Duck Calling Contest

If you do a bit of duck calling in your spare time (and who doesn't?), you may want to participate in the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest. Winning the contest, which is held yearly in Stuttgart, Arkansas, can yield a scholarship in the amount of $2,000. There are also smaller awards for second ($1,000), third ($750) and fourth ($500) places. All high school seniors are eligible to participate.

Established in 1974, the scholarship program honoring duck calling champions has provided nearly $60,000 to students who have attended more than 30 colleges around the country. Funding for the scholarships is raised in part through duck call sales, raffles, hamburger cookouts and fish fry events.

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