"There's this notion that you need to be a well-rounded students [to get scholarships] -- that's just wrong. Colleges want a well-rounded student body, not well-rounded students. Variety makes things interesting. If you excel in one area, it can make up for deficiencies in other areas," says Mark Kantrowitz, director of advanced projects at FastWeb.com, one of the leading scholarship search engines on the Web.
In fact, FastWeb has just released its list of the "Top 10 Most Unusual Scholarships" and it includes an award for duck calling, a scholarship for vegetarians and even an award for students with the last name Van Valkenburg.
The list underscores the importance of being creative when it comes to scholarship hunting. "When you complete a profile in a national scholarship database like FastWeb, it's worthwhile to carefully look down the list of hobbies. Don't skip over the profile -- answer the questions. It takes the average student about 30 minutes," says Kantrowitz.
And that's where you would enter characteristics like being a vegetarian or hobbies like skateboarding (there's a $5,000 scholarship available to skateboarders).
Before conducting your search, make a list of your accomplishments, says Kantrowitz. "I call it an accomplishments rC)sumC). It summarizes everything you've done -- not just academics, but activities. It's a good way to become familiar with who you are. It will also give you some key words to search for awards and things to look out for."
By Marshall Loeb