By Paul Culp, MA (Oxon.), CFT, GCDF, CCSP

The Coaching Educator is now in its tenth year of helping students get into and succeed at the right college, which means we’ve attained considerable knowledge of the scholarship scene. Nonetheless we are keenly aware of the need to keep up with new developments, as innovations in the realm of scholarships are reminiscent of what the Book of Lamentations says about the mercies of the Almighty: They are new every morning.

A few months ago, we did some research into some of the more unconventional scholarship opportunities and brought you The Odds Are Good But the Goods Are Odd: 16 Unusual Scholarships (October 12). Why 16 and not a flat 15? Read it and see, if you haven’t already. In the spirit of professional development and continuing education, and in order that we might better serve our public, we have renewed our inquiry, and we invite you to admire the genius of some unconventional donors.

If you’ve read our three-part series on comically awful writing, Ugh: When “Professional” Writers Get It Wrong, (January 24, February 14, March 12), you know we normally can’t abide mixed or misapplied metaphors. Still, there are times in this life when we have to bend the rules. So think about what it would be like to have your ship come in on a golf cart traveling off the beaten path. That’s how it would be to receive the Chick Evans Scholarship for caddies, which originates in Golf, Illinois, and is open to juniors and seniors who excel academically, demonstrate financial need, and have “a strong caddie record.” We hope there are no scholarships originating in Accident, Maryland, or Hell, Michigan.

Or maybe your ship will sail outside the box and come in on a skateboard. The Patrick Kerr Scholarship provides as much as $5,000 to skateboarders who have attained an impressive GPA of 2.5.

Note: The Coaching Educator does not condone the practice of taking stock photos of caddies and skateboarders and splicing the heads of non-caddies and non-skateboarders onto them in order to impress college personnel who are on the take.

unusual scholarships

“Dear Admissions Officer: Here’s an awesome pic of my son at the U.S. Open!”

Students less interested in the great outdoors may gravitate more toward the American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship: “Ten prizes are awarded for selected students with the goal of increasing awareness for the automatic fire sprinkler and the benefits it provides.” Like, it keeps stuff from burning up, so yeah.

An emphasis on fire prevention would coordinate well with the Norris Scholarship from the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York, which “seeks to promote the future of the Christmas tree industry by funding an annual scholarship to one or more eligible college students. These scholarships are awarded based on academic and leadership excellence and involvement in the Christmas tree industry.”

Those who wish to rise above mundane concerns altogether might be interested in the Flying Musicians Association, which funds flight training for juniors and seniors recommended by their school music directors. An added feature of this program is that applicants 18 and over do not need parental approval. You could notify your folks of your success by buzzing the house while they’re out doing yard work.

One opportunity that unfortunately seems likely to attract dishonest practice is ScholarshipRed, which requires the applicant to “create something that represents what it means to be Redhead” and to provide a childhood photo to prove natural redheadedness. Considering the lengths parents have gone to in the recent Varsity Blues scandal, it’s hard to believe nobody would start dying their kid’s hair when Junior is still in the crib.

But perhaps the best opportunity for illicit self-promotion lies with a certain scholarship meant to promote the educational benefits of travel. The SYTA Youth Foundation offers multiple Road Scholarships for those unable to afford student trips. Ever after, the recipients can truthfully say, “Yeah, I was a Road Scholar.” It’s not just the sound of it; we’re guessing that most employers nowadays, seeing “Road Scholarship” on a resume, would never know the difference.

Diversity being the current object all sublime of higher education, “the Klingon Language Council (KLC) awards $500 scholarships to students who excel at implementing creative uses for the language of Klingon, from the fictional Star Trek Universe.”

But a warning about false claims is definitely in order here. The Flavor of the Month scholarship asks applicants to consider what ice cream flavor they would like to be and why. Just remember that if you’re pistachio but identify as Neapolitan, that can come back to haunt you if you ever become a public figure.

But the world might not last that long, and whether it does could depend on you. The Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship rewards the quick thinker with a plan for preserving humanity: “If you can convince the scholarship judges you’re ready to survive a zombie fallout, you could win enough money to stock your underground shelter for at least a few months.”

It’s easy to laugh, but in fact some of our student/clients at The Coaching Educator have applied for offbeat scholarships and done fine work on the required essays. As St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar once said, “In America there is one word that says it all, and that one word is ‘You never know.’”

Even with unusual scholarships, it’s scholarships as usual for TCE.

We emphasize leaving no stone unturned, being strategic, and making wise decisions. To learn more about our philosophy and capabilities, be sure to watch our free webinars, listen to our podcasts, sign up for our four-week College App Boot Camp, consider our Ultimate Programs and our special services for athletes and performing-arts students, and book a consultation to hear what we can do for you and how we do it. Keep reading this blog, and look for us on social media (see links below) as we keep our clients and admirers advised of new developments in our effort to help students get into and succeed at the right school.

Paul Culp is certified as a global career development facilitator and writes about college admissions, college costs, financial aid, and college life in general for The Coaching Educator team. A former journalist and corporate ghostwriter who now operates Shenandoah Proofreading, Editing & Composition Services (SPECS), he has also been a humanities teacher at all levels from university down to sixth grade. Paul has degrees from Oxford University, Jacksonville State University, and Samford University, and also is certified as a fitness trainer

Photo Credits

Zombie by Rene Martin, ice cream cone by JC Bonassin, airplane by U.S. Air Force, golfer and caddie by The Seattle Times, student head shot by Mikhail Duran

Recommended Reading About College Admissions, Unusual Scholarships,  and Scholarships in General

Culp, Paul. “An Arm and a Leg and Your First-born Child: Why College Costs So Much,” The Coaching Educator, http://tce.local/2018/09/06/an-arm-and-a-leg-and-your-first-born-child-why-college-costs-so-much/

Culp, Paul. “Eat Your Alphabet Soup: FAFSA, EFC, COA, and Other Delights,” The Coaching Educator, 6 November 2018, http://tce.local/2018/11/06/eat-your-alphabet-soup-fafsa-efc-coa-and-other-delights/

Culp, Paul. “Five Favorite Unusual Colleges,” The Coaching Educator, 1 April 2019, http://tce.local/2019/04/01/five-favorite-unusual-colleges/?fbclid=IwAR1cnOiP5rVLug_sQdSubRprfZAtq-t73ojWuKGmP3F_fqBErEIxwXUiCj0

Culp, Paul. “The Odds Are Good, But the Goods Are Odd,” The Coaching Educator, 12 October 2018, http://tce.local/2018/10/12/the-odds-are-good-but-the-goods-are-odd-16-unusual-scholarships/

Culp, Paul “Part 2: The Odds Are Good But the Goods Are Odd: 10 More Unusual Scholarships,” The Coaching Educator, http://tce.local/2019/03/20/part-2-the-odds-are-good-but-the-goods-are-odd-10-more-unusual-scholarships/

Culp, Paul. “Ten Common Mistakes You Must Avoid in Applying for Scholarships,” The Coaching Educator, http://tce.local/2019/02/06/ten-common-mistakes-you-must-avoid-in-applying-for-scholarships/

Culp, Paul. “Ten Unusual Athletic Scholarships,” The Coaching Educator, 8 April 2019, http://tce.local/2019/04/08/ten-unusual-athletic-scholarships/

Culp, Paul. “Types of Financial Aid: A Very Short Primer,” The Coaching Educator, 14 September 2018, http://tce.local/2018/09/14/types-of-financial-aid-a-very-short-primer/

Culp, Paul. “Ugh: When ‘Professional’ Writers Get It Wrong,” The Coaching Educator, 24 January 2019, http://tce.local/2019/01/24/ugh-when-professional-writers-get-it-wrong/

Culp, Paul. “Ugh 2: When ‘Professional’ Writers Get It Wrong,” The Coaching Educator, 14 February 2019, http://tce.local/2019/02/14/ugh-2-when-professional-writers-get-it-wrong/

Culp, Paul. “Ugh 3: When ‘Professional’ Writers Get It Wrong” The Coaching Educator, 12 March  2019, http://tce.local/2019/03/12/ugh-3-when-professional-writers-get-it-wrong/

“Learn to Fly With the FMA Solo Program,” Flying Musicians Association,, accessed 19 March 2019

“60 of the Weirdest College Scholarships,” College Express,, accessed 19 March 2019

“200 Unique and Weird Scholarships Worth Applying For,” YesCollege,, accessed 19 March 2019

“Unique Scholarships for College Students,” Affordable Scholarships Online,, accessed 19 March 2019

“Weird Scholarships,”,, accessed 19 March 2019

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