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by Emily

Yesterday, the big "oh, look, a distraction from my homework!" news was a boy in Colorado who had apparently climbed into a homemade hot air balloon and floated away. This, of course, raised questions. The immediate question was, "is this for real?" especially after he was found hiding in his house, safely on solid ground, a few hours later. Immediately on the heels of this first query was a second, "who builds a giant balloon in their backyard, anyway?"

While no one has had much luck answering the first one yet, maybe you're the type of student who knows the answer to the second question. For some people, there's a certain allure to creating and executing plans for original creations. While your experiments and blueprints may not have resulted in a shiny balloon capable of capturing and holding national attention for hours, your inventions can still gain you recognition, and even cash, by way of scholarship awards. So if the saga of "balloon boy" yesterday inspired you to build your own airborne contraption, you may want to see if you can win some scholarship money by doing so.

There are numerous scholarships available for more inventive students, whether they're interested in engineering, design, business and entrepreneurship, or just making cool things as a hobby. Students engaging in other out-of-the-ordinary pursuits in addition to inventing may take an interest in any number of unusual college scholarships, ranging from awards for speaking fluent Klingon to awards for exceptional duck-calling.

Aspiring inventors who are looking for college aid will definitely want to check out the Collegiate Inventors Competition. This annual scholarship offers awards of up to $25,000 for doing what you do anyway: creating and developing a new and workable idea, process, or technology. Students more interested in building elaborate designs from shiny material, on the other hand, may find themselves drawn to the Duck Brand Duct Tape "Stuckat Prom" Contest. This well-known annual scholarship gives one lucky couple $3,000 college scholarships for designing and wearing duct tape prom attire. If you don't just want to build, but want to also produce, market, and distribute your brilliant inventions, you may be a candidate for one of several entrepreneurship and business scholarships awarded each year by various foundations. There may even be local scholarships for young entrepreneurs in your area.

These aren't the only scholarship opportunities available to creative and enterprising students.  To see more award opportunities like the ones mentioned above, conduct a free scholarship search on Scholarships.com.


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by Agnes Jasinski

For those of you who know you want to be educators and have a strong opinion on unions, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has an award that you could be eligible for, whether you're an undergraduate or pursuing an advanced degree. The institute's $1,000 Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship and this week's Scholarship of the Week is available to any undergraduate or graduate pursuing a degree in education at any school in the United States. The award is named after three Michigan public school teachers who were fired for their refusal to pay union dues.

Much of the weight for this prize will be placed on the no more than 500-word essay you come up with demonstrating an interest in and knowledge of the Right to Work principle as it applies to educators. As with many career-specific scholarship opportunities, applicants must also show the potential to successfully complete a college-level program in education, as the award will be helping you become a future teacher, after all.

Prize: $1,000

Eligibility: Undergraduate and graduate pursuing a degree in education at a college in the United States. Officers, directors, and employees of the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, the National Right to Work Committee, Members of the Selection Review Committee, and their families are not eligible.

Deadline: Applications will be accepted now through Dec. 31. Requests for applications will be sent via regular mail until December 15 and cannot be requested after that date.

Required Material: An online application, which includes an essay, and current transcript. The scholarship will be paid to the institution of higher learning which the recipient plans to attend, and the recipient will be required to provide a copy of his/her transcript from that institution at the end of the academic year.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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by Agnes Jasinski

If you haven't already been seeking out and applying for scholarships, what better time to start than National Scholarship Month? November was designated as National Scholarship Month by the National Scholarship Providers Association to bring more awareness of scholarship opportunities to the college-bound or those already pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees. The organization works with scholarship providers to make them more effective in providing you with scholarship opportunities and exposing college students to the number of awards out there.

National Scholarship Month was switched from May to November in 2008 for a reason. Now is a great time to start applying for awards, as by next spring, many scholarship deadlines have passed and funding has already been disbursed. And even if you have several months to get ready for a scholarship application deadline, apply early. Scholarships are constantly being added and created, and in a tough economy, best practice will always be to apply early and apply often to get the most out of your scholarship search.

Browse through our site for tips on applying for scholarships to improve your chances of padding your financial aid package with scholarship money. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that your chances of winning a scholarship award are slim to none. But someone wins each award, right? Why shouldn't it be you? For an idea of the kinds of awards you could win if you put the time and effort into your scholarship search, see our Success Stories page. Many of those students applied to a lot of scholarships before winning one, or had the same apprehensions you might have about your chances to win an award. Now they're enjoying life on campus with less of a reliance on student loans and a new confidence that they were chosen to win these awards from large pools of applicants.

Celebrate National Scholarship Month by starting with a free college scholarship search, where we'll come up with a list of awards that you're specifically eligible for and have a good shot at landing. Make your search as specific as possible, as there are awards available to students based on almost any characteristic you can think of. Play up your academic strengths if that's where they are. If you have a unique hobby, use that to your advantage, as there are awards out there that could reward you for your interests. And be sure to keep your profile up to date. If you improve on your GPA, for example, you could be eligible for a number of new scholarship opportunities you weren't eligible for before.

Most important of all, go into the scholarship search with confidence. There are awards out there for you, so start looking and apply for scholarships before the school year gets away from you. Happy National Scholarship Month!


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by Agnes Jasinski

Samantha P. spent her childhood in Akwesasne, a Mohawk Nation territory on the New York-Canada border. When she moved from her Mohawk-language elementary school to an English-language middle school, she saw students from her reservation struggling with the abrupt transition and knew where her future would lead her. To help Samantha complete a degree in Education at the State University of New York at Potsdam and prepare for a career helping students from her community excel in both English and Mohawk, Scholarships.com has named Samantha the 2009 recipient of the annual $1,000 College Education Scholarship.

Scholarships.com has been awarding Area of Study College Scholarships since summer 2008 to help students like Samantha meet their college and career goals. The competition grants a $1,000 scholarship each month to a high school senior or undergraduate student planning to pursue a career in one of 13 areas of study, such as Education.

"Education is an important field in need of passionate and forward-thinking individuals," said Emily Hilleren, Director of Content for Scholarships.com. "Samantha’s dedication to her area of study and commitment to a multicultural approach to teaching made her entry stand out among the numerous applications we received. Scholarships.com is honored to play a role in funding her college education with this scholarship award."

Scholarship applicants are asked to describe what influenced their career choices. In her essay, Samantha described her goal of becoming an English teacher near the community where she grew up, so that she could “incorporate traditional Mohawk stories like ‘The Creation Story’ with classics like ‘Romeo and Juliet’” to instill in her students a passion for reading and writing. “I want my students to be chameleons and blend into the world of the Mohawk culture and the English world that surrounds them,” she wrote.

The Scholarships.com Area of Study Scholarships are open to all U.S. citizens who will be attending college in the coming fall, regardless of age, test scores or grade point average. To apply for the Scholarships.com Area of Study College Scholarships, students can conduct a free scholarship search and complete an online scholarship application.

A complete list of Area of Study scholarship winners as well as their winning essays is available on our Student Winners page.


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by Emily

For the most part, holiday festivities are over, but most college students, as well as some high school students, still have weeks left of their winter breaks. Gifts have been opened, food has been eaten, and relatives and old friends have been visited. As boredom and cabin fever set in, you may even find yourself longing for campus. But even going back to college comes with a catch: that giant spring semester tuition bill awaiting you when you return.

Here's a strategy to both combat boredom and tackle that tuition statement: use your winter break to apply for scholarships. Your brain is recovered enough from fall finals and the multi-day holiday food coma, but hasn't yet sunken into a daytime TV-induced daze. You're at home with your family and they're probably all too eager to help you find new ways to pay for college (your mom might even stop hinting about helping more around the house while you're home).

On top of the good timing in your life, it's also a good time in the award cycle for most scholarships. The majority of awards have scholarship application deadlines in the next few months, many of which are likely to fall right after a major test or right in the middle of that big spring break trip you're planning. To avoid dashing off a half-hearted scholarship application at the last minute when you don't have time, it's a good idea to start the application process now, submitting application early in the application period and showing your high level of interest in the award. Some scholarship contests cut off applications early if they've reached a maximum number of applicants, so that's another reason to apply earlier, rather than later.

In addition to a clear head, more time to work on your scholarship application, and the best chance of getting your application considered, you may also find you have more resources available to you in January than you will in April or May. You probably have friends or siblings, or possibly even a favorite English teacher from high school with enough free time to give feedback on your applications, and if you can contact teachers or professors, they can probably find time in the next few weeks to write you a glowing letter of recommendation. When you head back to campus, you might even be able to run your scholarship essay past the university writing center--typically traffic there is relatively sparse until the first paper of the semester is assigned. Even printing and mailing may be easier, as you either have a freshly reset campus printing budget or a little extra change in your pocket from break.

So what are you waiting for? Go forth and start your scholarship search. By taking your time to write scholarship-worthy essays now, you can spend your spring semester kicking back and waiting for the scholarship money to arrive.


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by Agnes Jasinski

If you haven't heard already, today may be the day you find out whether you've been accepted to your first-choice college or university, as April 1 is the notification deadline for many of the most selective schools across the country. If the news you've gotten so far hasn't been the best, though, or if you come home to see a slimmer envelope than you'd hoped for, know that you're not alone. Many of the most famous and familiar faces out there were rejected from their top picks. (And no, this isn't an April Fool's joke.)

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal took a look at the company students with rejection letters will be keeping, and the examples they found should make any dejected high school senior feel just a little bit more hopeful. Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate in medicine, was rejected twice from Harvard Medical School, at one time counseled to join the military instead. There's a decent-sized list of famous faces who have been rejected from Harvard. "Today Show" host Meredith Vieira and broadcaster Tom Brokaw were both rejected from the Ivy; Vieira instead met a mentor at Tufts University who got her into journalism. Warren Buffet, currently one of the richest people in the world, now describes his rejection from Harvard as a mere "temporary defeat," according to the Journal. Ted Turned received dual rejection letters from both Harvard and Princeton University, eventually attending Brown University, where he left on his own terms to join his father's billboard company - a company he has since turned into a media empire.

If you didn't get in everywhere you wanted to, don't be too discouraged. It's rare that an incoming freshmen hasn't had to deal with at least one rejection letter. Check out the New York Times' blog for their ongoing feature of students' experiences this admissions season. Those students are not only dealing with good news, but making tough decisions on whether those number-one choices were really the best fit, or only the top picks in their college searches because of their ranks and reputations.

This is also one of the most competitive years in terms of admissions rates, as more students are applying to the most selective schools than in years prior. Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania, for example, have seen percentage increases of applicants in the double digits over the previous year. Both of those schools have admission rates hovering around 14 percent, which seem like tough odds. So expand that net when you're choosing a college, because there could be a diamond in the rough out there that you haven't yet considered.


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by Agnes Jasinski

While many students marked April 1 as the day they found out whether they were accepted or rejected to their first-choice colleges, many others were given a different response - placement to the waiting list. High school seniors are then faced with a tough decision. Should you take a risk and bank on placement at a school you're wait-listed at, even if you miss notification deadlines at schools you've been admitted to? Or should you cut your losses and inform the schools you've been wait-listed at that you'll be going elsewhere?

The waiting list generally benefits the colleges. The schools' administrators are able to wait until their own first-choice students make decisions on where they intend to attend, moving to those on the waiting list typically by May 1, once students' deadlines to notify the school of their choice have passed. The schools may also use the waiting list to fill gaps in their student population, according to The New York Times, offering eventual admittance to a student with a particular musical or athletic talent that the school had hoped to enroll in their first-choice pool.

Knowing this, it may seem like a risky endeavor to bet on a school choosing you out of the hundreds of other students on waiting lists. Still, many do choose to stay, especially at the most prestigious, private schools. At Yale University, for example, about two-thirds of students remain on the waiting list. (More than 900 were wait-listed at Yale this year.) Of those offered eventual admittance to Yale, a majority do choose to enroll there.

So what should you do? It really depends. Here are a few tips: 

     
  • If you know you won't be attending a school you're wait-listed at, notify them of your intentions right away. There's someone out there who does want that spot, and you may be keeping them from being placed at their top-choice school.
  •  
  • If you know you're sincerely interested in the school you're wait-listed at, let the school know that. Notify them immediately that you intend to wait for their decision, and send admissions staff a personal letter on why you want to go to that school. If they're your top choice, tell them. If you know any alumni from the school, ask them to write a letter on your behalf. This is the stage of the game where admissions officials are looking at every piece of information coming in on an applicant.
  •  
  • Ask for an interview. You wouldn't be wait-listed if you didn't have the academic credentials to attend their school, so the admissions office will now be looking at other factors - extracurricular activities, outside interests, and whether your personality is a good fit for their campus.
  •  
 While waiting lists are more common at private institutions where enrollment numbers are much lower and the unpredictability of students’ decisions about whether to enroll in those private schools is much higher, some schools have used the list as more of a strategy to deal with uncertainties in state budgets or over-enrollment. California's public university system is using waiting lists to deal with a record number of applicants this year and a state budget shortfall that has made it impossible for the school system to accept as many students as it had been admitting in year prior. This is the first time the state universities have used waiting lists, and students have until April 15 to remove their names from the lists or continue waiting until around the first week in June. Any new admittances will be determined by the outcome of the state's 2010-2011 budget negotiations.


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by Agnes Jasinski

It can’t be a good feeling to know that you could have been a contender for a generous scholarship but for the one piece of the application you failed to send to the award provider. Or that you were this close to winning an award to help pay for college but missed the deadline on providing supplementary materials. We can’t stress enough how important it is to follow the rules on each scholarship you apply for exactly, because one small misstep will not only send you to the bottom of the pile, it will most certainly take you out of the running for an award.

Thanks to free scholarship searches like ours, it’s easier than ever before to find scholarships. The harder part is obviously applying, but don’t assume you’re eligible for an award after a casual glance over the requirements. Take a close look at what each scholarship requires of you, and, if available, the official rules of each award, to make sure you meet all of the criteria. If you need to request an application through the mail, write a formal letter that you’ve proofread for any errors. Once you’re ready to submit your scholarship application, take a look at everything again, or have a fresh pair of eyes look over your materials. Most scholarships have quite a few applicants vying for that same award you’re applying for, so don’t give the scholarship provider a reason to deny you your chance.

Your work’s not quite over once you’ve submitted your application, even if you’ve followed the guidelines of that award to the letter. Your work may not even be over after you’re told you’ve won a particular scholarship. Take our own Area of Study Scholarships as an example. If you’re chosen as a winner of one of the 13 scholarships, based on the field of study you provide when you fill out a Scholarships.com profile, you’re expected to follow through on a few steps to help us determine whether you’re truly eligible to receive the award. Follow the rules we provide and respond by the deadline we give you, and we’ll send you a check for $1,000 to help cover your college costs. If you fail to reply, we’ll pick another lucky winner in your place. If you reply after we’ve already chosen another winner, you’re out of luck.

It sounds simple, but there have been instances where scholarship winners forfeit their prizes because they fail to follow-up after an award is announced or miss important deadlines. Scholarship providers are in the business of helping you with your college costs, and the best thanks you could give is following directions and being timely with your responses. Good luck out there!


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Scholarships Are Not Just For High School Students

How To Get Aid While In College

August 3, 2010

by Derrius Quarles

Many college students end their first year of college with a significant amount of loans and out-of-pocket cost, forcing them to make the decision of either finding another school for the subsequent year or pausing their college education altogether. However, a mistake that can be made by students receiving loans or that have out-of-pocket costs is believing that undergraduate scholarships are not available for those already in college.

What all college students should know is that there are a plethora of scholarships and financial aid available exclusively to undergraduate students. These funds can be awarded based on many things, including community service done in high school in college, family income, the amount of loans used for college, and your academic record while in college. The places you should start looking for scholarships are the financial aid office at your college, where most schools post flyers or have a simple handout that list scholarships that are available for students at the school. The next step is to go directly to your financial aid advisor and ask if he/she knows of any financial aid sources that are available for you.

If you are unsuccessful in finding any opportunities via flyers, handouts, or asking your financial aid advisor, you should schedule a meeting with the director of financial aid at your school and ask them about ways of lowering your loan amounts and out-of-pocket costs. During this meeting you must remember that many students come into the office every day in need of aid so you must stress how important it is for you to receive additional aid if you are going to continue your education. The director may be able to tell you about grants and scholarships that are available to you. The reason you should tap into your school's resources for financial aid first is because most of the money your school has in its budget for financial aid will be available at the beginning of the school year. The longer you wait to investigate, the smaller your chances of receiving additional funds. The key thing to remember is the earlier you inquire, the better.

After you have tapped into all of your school's resources, you should then start your personal search for scholarships. The best place to start this search is of course Scholarships.com. When using the Scholarships.com database you should narrow your search to scholarships and grants available to undergraduate students. After you have done this you should find all of the scholarships you meet the requirements for and you should start your scholarship list. Almost all of these scholarships or grants will require you to write personal statements and obtain one or more recommendations from professors. If you want more information about writing personal statements and essays or getting your recommendations for scholarship applications take a look at my previous entries, "So You Want To Set Yourself Apart Huh?" (personal statements) and "A Strong Foundation Means a Strong Application" (recommendations). These entries will go into deeper detail about how to get great recommendations and how to write personal statements that will set you apart from other applicants.

Besides personal statements and recommendations, any scholarship you apply for as an undergrad will rely heavily on your academic record. This means that doing well in your classes and having a strong GPA will greatly increase your chances of being awarded most scholarships and grants. Your search for financial aid while in college may be a rough one, but it is definitely a search worth making. If you utilize the information listed above you too will soon realize that scholarships are not just for high school students.


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This Scholarship of the Week is SWEET!

Zinch Sweet-Diggity-Dawg Scholarship Deadline Approaching

December 27, 2010

This Scholarship of the Week is SWEET!

by Alexis Mattera

Finding the necessary amount of financial aid to fund your education can be difficult. Requirements often include complicated forms and applications, lengthy essays and rigid guidelines…some, but not all: Certain providers, like Zinch, are making it much easier to score some super sweet scholarship opportunities. Like this week’s Scholarship of the Week, the Zinch Sweet-Diggity-Dawg Scholarship: It's worth $20,000. Let's learn some more about it, shall we?

To enter, you must be a high school student with a minimum 2.0 GPA and an 80-percent complete Zinch profile. Semi-finalists are selected for this scholarship based on their profiles then they compete, "March Madnezz" style, in a bracket of 64 students. Students go head-to-head, with the best Zinch profile advancing until only one student remains and claims the $20,000 scholarship.

The application deadline is in just under three weeks (January 15th) so you still have time to spruce up your Zinch profile (or create one if you don’t already have one). With $20,000 at stake, it’s best to bring your A-game! To get more info about this scholarship, visit Zinch's site and to find additional scholarship awards, try our free scholarship search today!


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