The Weirdest College Scholarships

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Need money for College? Great SAT scores, a solid GPA and a laundry list of extracurricular activities are no longer required if you know your options. Lucky for you, MainStreet is here to help you engineer a financial back-up plan. And if you feel a little guilty winning a college scholarship because of your height, your last name or your love of llamas, remember, you get these scholarships by being yourself (and following our instructions).

Make a Duct Tape Outfit

Duck Brand Duct Tape is currently holding its 2010 Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest.  The company gives away college scholarships to the three couples who create the best prom outfits out of their duct tape. The first place couple each wins a $3,000 scholarship to the college of their choice. The high school that hosted the prom also wins $3,000. Second place couples get $2,000; third place couples get $1,000. Ducktape Sportswear is given out for honorable mentions (no word on whether or not that clothing is made of duct tape).  Prospective entrants can take a look at past winners for ideas.

Call some Ducks

Jake Lay of Parsons, Tenn., got a $1,000 college scholarship in 2009 for winning the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest.  The annual contest is held every November on, aptly, Main Street in Stuttgart, Ark., alongside the World Championship Duck Calling Contest. Over the past 32 years, the Memorial has given out more than $58,500 in scholarships to students attending 32 different colleges in 13 different states. Current high school juniors (you need to be a senior to enter) should get quacking.      

Win the Height Immunity Challenge

Tall Clubs International, a social organization for, umm, tall people, gives up to $1,000 to each tall student who receives its TCI Student Scholarship. Their lofty requirements? Women must be 5’10” or taller; men must be 6’2” or more. You’ll have to contact your nearest TCI Membership Club for sponsorship, but the organization’s Web site will help you find a big and tall club nearest you.   

Two different foundations offer scholarships for short people. Little People of America Inc. and the Bill Barty Foundation award scholarships of up to $1,000 to people of short stature. Both require proof of dwarfism.  

Own Your Last Name

The Zolp Scholarship of Loyola University is handed out to students who are Catholic and go by the surname of Zolp. If you can prove that you were born and baptized or confirmed as a Zolp (and you want to go to Loyola), the Chicago university will pay your tuition in varying amounts depending on how many students are eligible. (But, come on, how many Zolps do you know?) All applicants must be admitted before Feb. 1 of their entrance date.  The Zolp moniker requirement exists because the endowment was set up by a family of the same name.

Odd as it may seem, Loyola is not the only University to offer a surname scholarship. North Carolina State University offers up to $18,000 to students born under the surname of Gatling or Gatlin as part of its John Gatling Grant Program.  And The National Association of the Van Valkenburg Family gives out monetary awards to people named Van Valkenburg (variations apply).

Speak Klingon

OK, speaking Klingon isn’t exactly a requirement for the Kor Memorial Scholarship, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The Klingon Language Institute awards $500 to full-time undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate achievement in the field of language study. Klingon and non-Kilingon speakers alike can apply by submitting a nomination letter from a department head, two letters of recommendation, a resume highlighting his or her accomplishments and a brief personal statement. Creative and innovative applicants are preferred. The application deadline is June 1.

Take advantage of your diet

The Vegetarian Resource Group offers two $5,000 scholarships to high school students who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools or communities. The group is currently taking applicants for 2011; high school seniors must apply by Feb. 20.  

Conversely, the American National CattleWomen Foundation awards educational scholarships totaling $3,750 to students who promote and support the beef industry.

Write with your left hand

Sophomores, juniors and seniors at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania are eligible for the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship if they are left-handed. The scholarship is worth $1,000 to $1,500 a year.  More than 40 students have already taken advantage of Mary F. Beckley’s benevolence.  This year’s deadline was April 1, but freshman south paws should plan to take advantage of Juanita’s leftist leanings next year.

Apply vacuum coating technology

The Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation offers two or more $2,500 scholarships to prospective college students who appreciate the depth and breadth of vacuum coating technology.  Applicants must demonstate that they can apply vacuum coatings to materials at speeds of up to 500 mph. Of course, if you understand what any of that means, you’ve probably already qualified for a full academic scholarship.  Applications may be submitted between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31 each year.  

Love the llamas:

The Michigan Llama Association awards a renewable $500 stipend to students chosen by the MLA Board.  The organization doesn’t make specific requirements other than that you have to be a member of the association (a youth membership costs $15). Each award is presented at the MLA’s annual Llamafest in June. Students are eligible to renew the scholarship three times during their academic career.

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