While it's true that successful scholarship winners often have a lot in common—good grades, thoughtful essays, and varied extracurricular activities—there are some scholarships that reward your interest in a very specific niche. These out-of-the-ordinary scholarships aren't for everyone, but for some students they may just be a perfect fit.
1. Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship: Caddyshack is one of the great comedies of all time, and it gets its major dramatic storyline from young Danny Noonan's quest to win the prestigious Caddie Scholarship. Thanks to the Western Golf Association, you can now follow in Danny's footsteps—and you don't even have to out-putt Judge Smails, the movie's villain, to do so.
The Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship is a full tuition and housing award renewable for up to four years; most recipients attend and live at one of the 14 colleges around the country where the Evans Scholarship Foundation operates Scholarship Houses.
Applicants must be sponsored by the golf or country club where they work and are required to have a strong caddie record, excellent grades, outstanding character, and demonstrated financial need. To apply, check out the application website starting June 15; interested caddies can get an application password from their club.
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2. Tall and short scholarships: Yes, it's true: You can win a scholarship for being tall. Tall Clubs International (TCI) is "a social organization for tall people," and in addition to sponsoring the annual Miss Tall International competition, they award scholarships of up to $1,000 to students who are under 21 and meet their minimum height requirements (5 feet, 10 inches for women and 6 feet, 2 inches for men).
The scholarships are awarded at the annual TCI conference—this year, it's in Seattle in late June—and to apply, students must first be nominated by a local chapter of TCI. You can search for your local club and find out more at TCI's website.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Billy Barty Foundation, started by the late actor, offers two $1,000 scholarships each year to students who have been diagnosed with dwarfism; find out more about these renewable awards at the Adventures in Education website.
3. Collegiate Inventors Competition: Whether it's fixing a bike with duct tape or keeping a computer alive with a power cord from an old vacuum cleaner, college students often find themselves inventing on the fly. But if your inventions have a more formal bent, check out the Collegiate Inventors Competition, a scholarship contest that provides a $10,000 first prize for undergrads and $15,000 for graduate students.
Be forewarned, though: This is a contest for serious scientists; the two 2010 first-prize winners were honored for their work on "implant[ing] human liver cells in mice to facilitate drug testing and … manufactur[ing] composite structural poles." If that doesn't scare you off, visit the Invent.org website and apply by June 24.
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4. Scholarships for Trekkies: For decades, smart sci-fi fans have gravitated to the world of Star Trek, so it should come as no surprise that there's more than one scholarship out there aimed specifically at fans.
The Starfleet Academy Scholarships are available to postsecondary and graduate students who have been active members of Starfleet Academy, the International Star Trek Fan Association, for at least one year (as of June 30, the application deadline). They provide a variety of $500 awards ranging from the Patrick Stewart Scholarship for the Performing Arts to the Gene Roddenberry Memorial Scholarship for aspiring writers.
And if that weren't enough, the Klingon Language Institute also takes time at its annual convention—July 21-25 this year—to award a $500 scholarship to a student in the field of language study. You don't have to speak Klingon, but creative applicants are encouraged.
5. Answers.com Scholarship: Answers.com is a collaborative website where registered users can answer all kinds of questions, from "What process causes earthquakes?" to "How do you change a dashboard light on a Ford Ranger?"
Students who use Answers.com can turn their unique knowledge into college funding: This year, the Answers.com Scholarship Fund is awarding one $5,000 scholarship, two $2,500 scholarships, and 10 scholarships valued at $1,000 each to students who answered 50 or more questions on the site between January 1 and March 28.
While the application period is now closed, you should bookmark the Answers.com scholarship page, brush up on your trivia, and check back on this one.
Matt Konrad has been with Scholarship America since 2005. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota and a former scholarship recipient.