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7 Strange, Stunning, and Spectacular Scholarships

By Brendan Conway updated on Monday, October 14, 2013

You might call them eccentric. You might call them bizarre. But you'll be thanking the organizations behind these scholarships when they're handing you the money you need to pursue your college goals. So let's get into some peculiar college scholarships that might help you in your higher education pursuits.

1. Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest
You've heard of duct tape, right? I mean, who hasn't, it holds the universe together. And you've misspelled it as duck tape at least 20 times, right? (We've all done that, right?) Ever use it for anything unorthodox? Like a wallet? Or shoes? Or a dress?

No?  You've never had a duct tape dress? You don't know what you're missing.

Well, now's the time to change that. Duck brand duct tape producers hold a yearly scholarship contest, awarding $5000 to the 1st place winners (along with equivalent donations to their school). There are awards for 2nd and 3rd place, and for the 7 remaining runners up, as well.

And what do you have to do to win that money? Well, what do you think? Use duct tape to make your prom outfits. And we're not just talking, "Make a sort of garment that fits around your body and is made of duct tape." We're talking, "Make a glorious celebration of visual delight that you can wear proudly and is made of duct tape." (Seriously, check out the 2011 winners for a visual feast.)

Think you've got the outfit-making chops to craft a masterpiece in duck tape? I mean, duct tape? I mean, Duck duct tape? Then get to it! The contest generally accepts entries sometime around March and ends sometime in June, so it doesn't hurt to get creating now.

2. The Kor Memorial Scholarship
What, you've never heard of Kor? Or the Kor Memorial? What are you, a pujwI'?

Oh, I see. You're just a regular Earth human. Well, time to be educated then.

The Kor Memorial Scholarship is awarded by the Klingon Language Institute as an academic award. Yes, that Klingon Language. The one from Star Trek.

I'll just give you a moment to let that sink in.

In all seriousness, though, the KLI Academic Award, worth $500, is meant to help further encourage academic study of languages. Each year, it's given to either an undergraduate or graduate student studying in the languages.  And no, you most certainly do not need to know Klingon in order to earn the award. Although, it makes the award ceremony way more enjoyable if you do.

Applications for the Kor Memorial Scholarship must be received by June 1st of the year in which the scholarship will be awarded, so if you're an interested language student, get rolling on your application now, or be meyrI' ("square," for all those who have better things to do than learn Klingon).

3. The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
This is it. This is your day. The one you knew was coming your whole life. The day when that talent you've been cultivating since your birth finally pays off. This is the day when all those kids who made fun of you for chasing wildly after the birds finally see what they were missing. This is that day. Your day. So quack your heart out.

In Stuttgart, Arkansas, on November 25, the 2011 Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest will take place, and the competing high school seniors involved have the chance to earn up to $2,000 for their college educations.

The contest is associated with the World's Champion Duck Calling Contest, and has a storied 36 year history of honoring young men and women with a far too often underappreciated talent. Students come from states all around to put their duck calling skills to the test in a day of epic quacktastic struggle.

So, come to Stuttgart, Arkansas. Compete. Win the scholarship. And most importantly, let your heart quack.

4. The Van Valkenburg Memorial Scholarship
Is your last name Van Valkenburg? It isn't? Huh. Isn't your life just a little bit empty? Don't you wish your last name was Van Valkenburg?

How about you? Oh, your last name is Van Valkenburg? Fantastic! We've got a scholarship for you!

Lambert and Annetje Van Valkenburg came to New Amsterdam (that's New York, to all you kiddies out there who don't remember the good ol' days) in 1643. One thing led to another, and the present day arrived, along with the National Association of the Van Valkenburg Family. Yeah, that's right. A national association for the widespread Van Valkenburg clan.

The scholarship is available to anyone who's either graduated high school or will graduate high school, who is on track to attend an accredited college or certificate program, and who has the Van Valkenburg name. This might mean that you're "a descendant, whether by birth or legal adoption, of Lambert and Annetje Van Valkenburg," but it might also mean that you're just a descendant in the same sense of anyone who had the Van Valkenburg name. And, you're eligible if you marry into the Van Valkenburg family, too.

You still have to provide evidence that you come from the Van Valkenburgs in terms of your genealogy, and you'll have to write an essay for the award. But come on, the hard part will be done by that point; you're already named Van Valkenburg, right?

The applications must be postmarked by March 1st for the 2012 academic year, and winners will be announced on April 30th. So all you Van Valkenburgs out there? Get to it.

5. The Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation
The Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation, administered from Nova Southeastern University, is all about providing scholarships for students who are masters of common knowledge. That's right. Common knowledge. So everybody can get it! Sort of!

Everybody can compete to get a scholarship from the Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation. The Foundation hosts quizzes year round, and all you've got to do is demonstrate your common knowledge all over the quiz to earn a cool scholarship. That, and beat out all the other common knowledge demonstrations that other students are submitting. Still, though, it's common knowledge! Should be a cinch!

Except, maybe, for those scholarship contests that are about specific academic subjects. Or books. Or movies. Look, it's your fault if you never went and saw Transformers 2 in theaters, so you can't ace that quiz.

The quizzes can have a large number of questions (we're talking up to 500), and are graded both in terms of accuracy and in terms of time spent on the test. The winners are those with the highest scores. And, that's it. No essays, no other applications.

So. Feel like putting your common knowledge to the test, to see if you can earn yourself some money for college? Here, you can find a list of the upcoming quizzes being offered by the CKSF.

 6. Tall Clubs International Student Scholarships
Take a guess about what the Tall Clubs International is all about. No, just go ahead and guess.

Alright, ready for the answer? It's about being tall. Never could've figured that one out, right?

Tall Clubs International is an organization with 53 member clubs spread out over North America, and it's all about promoting "tall awareness among tall men and women, and in the community." To that end, it offers student scholarships, each of up to $1,000 in value, to tall students who are going to attend college in the coming autumn. Primary requirement? You have to be at least 5' 10'' if you're a woman, or 6' 2'' if you're a man.

I can hear you from over here. "Hey! I'm tall!" you're saying. "I need money for college! Hook me up!" All you have to do to get started on the scholarship is to get in touch with the TCI Member Club closest to you, so that it can offer you sponsorship (you can look up a list of the member clubs). The cutoff deadline date varies depending on the club. For more information, visit the TCI website.

And then, after you've used your tallness to secure yourself some cool college funding, maybe you can stop lording your genetic awesome. Crouch down a bit more, to hang out with us short plebs. Please?

7. American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Program
Surely you've heard of the American Fire Sprinkler Association, famed publishers of Sprinkler Age magazine, holders of "the largest fire sprinkler industry convention and exhibition in the world"? No? Man, what are you even doing with your life?

Well, now's the time to get educated. The AFSA is all about fire sprinklers, and for the sake of promoting further knowledge and education about fire sprinklers, it offers a scholarship program offering 10 different students $2,000 each in scholarship funds. Sweet deal, right? You get to do your part helping out the cause of fire sprinklers, and get some help in paying for college. What more do you want?

(Well, maybe to be taller, but we can't help you there.)

To get the scholarship from the AFSA, you'll have to read their essay all about fire sprinklers and the fire sprinkler industry. Then, you'll take a quiz of 10 questions about the essay. Each correct answer is an entry into the random drawing to see who wins one of the 10 scholarship slots. And that's it!

So what are you waiting for? Your fire sprinkler education awaits! Get reading that essay! (Although, really, I don't understand why you don't know all this fire sprinkler stuff already.)  The deadline for entries for the scholarship is April 5th, so you have time, but…fire sprinkler info! Why would you wait?!

Any other interesting scholarships you think your fellow students might want to know about? Tell us all about them on our Facebook page!

About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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