It is no secret that we're living in a virtual society. We spend our days plugged in to check E-mail, purchase goods, watch movies, listen to music, read the news, and interact with friends. In fact, you aren't really friends until you make it "Facebook official."
The average American spends approximately two hours online per day, though this amount increases significantly among younger Americans. Luckily for you web-savvy folks, there are ways to turn that web addiction into serious scholarship cash.
For the constant updater, Twitter provides the perfect medium for earning a scholarship in 140 characters or less.
Scholarships.com's periodic Short and Tweet competition provides students with the opportunity to earn a scholarship for college. Students are asked to creatively discuss a variety of topics; questions in the past include discussing what an extra $1,000 toward college would mean to them, and most recently, to discuss their scariest college-related experience. The first-place winner earns $1,000, while two runner-ups each receive a Kindle. Be sure to check scholarships.com often and follow it on Twitter in order to catch the next Short and Tweet.
[Learn about five unique uses of Twitter in the classroom.]
Yourlocalsecurity.com offers politically motivated students a chance at $1,000 through its America's Best Blogging Scholarship. All students need to do is write a blog post about this year's topic: "As the nation approaches its 57th Presidential Election, we're asking the future leaders of this country, students, to define the single most important political issue in this election. Tell us not only what that issue is, but also tell us why and how you propose we come to a solution that benefits the majority?" Submissions are due by December 31.
CollegeScholarships.org provides a $10,000 scholarship to a student who authors a unique and interesting blog. There is no specific requirement for what the blog needs to be about other than that is should contain information about the blogger and their passions. In other words, you could win $10,000 for discussing your favorite movies, food, clothes, or even your day-to-day exploits.
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YouTube offers another opportunity for tech-savvy scholarship seekers. (Note: YouTube does not directly sponsor any scholarship competitions.)
The IEEE-USA Online Engineering Video Contest awards a total of $5,000 to undergraduate or graduate students who create a two-minute clip to showcase how engineers improve the world, in a way that will appeal to children between the ages of 11 and 13. Students can apply as members of a team and do not all need to be engineering majors. However, at least one person from the group needs to be a member of the IEEE, a professional organization that promotes the interests of engineering, computing and technology professionals. The 2011-2012 contest ends on January 27, so get filming.
Ivy Tech Community College offers a $3,000 scholarship to the student who gets the most views on a video about what a degree from the college would mean to his or her future. Be sure to check with your prospective college to find out about any video contests they sponsor.
[Read why college scholarships are essential.]
Finally, there are plenty of scholarships that are given out several times throughout the year just for having fun online.
The Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation gives scholarships to students for taking quizzes that will appear in their accounts throughout the year. Quiz topics include common knowledge questions, specific academic subjects, books, websites, and movies. Scores are based on a combination of accuracy and time. In other words, it is essentially like being a contestant on your personal version of "Jeopardy!"
ScholarshipPoints.com is perhaps the easiest way for students to earn a scholarship. Students gain points for everything they do on the site from taking quizzes to reading blogs to playing games. Every point they earn translates into one entry to a monthly drawing for $1,000, or a quarterly drawing for a $10,000 scholarship.
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CollegeNet.com offers weekly scholarships of between $3,000 and $10,000 for engaging online with others via forums. Users are able to post topics that are important to them and discuss those topics with other users. Posts with the most votes win scholarships with money provided by the site's advertisers and scholarship sponsors. These topics are strictly about what is important to the user; not all topics are intellectual or controversial. For example, one of the most popular topics right now is about favorite childhood books. I can earn college money for discussing "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"? Sign me up.
Keep in mind that these are just a few highlights of some of the most popular web-based scholarships. Some of your favorite sites may offer scholarships as well. Good luck, and remember to make your web addiction work for you.
Catherine Roman interned for Scholarship America in 2011 and is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota.