15 Weird and Unusual Scholarships That You Should Probably Apply For … Maybe

Trish Sammer Updated on February 21, 2020

True or false: You need to be an athlete or a brainiac to get a scholarship to college.

Did you answer “true?”

You know that annoying buzzer sound that happens when people answer incorrectly on TV game shows? Imagine us making that sound at you right now, because you are W-R-O-N-G. (Sorry.)

But hey, that’s good news in this case. Why? Because it means that there are tons of scholarships out there for all kinds of people who have all kinds of interesting interests or characteristics.

Don’t believe us? Why are you so skeptical all the time? Allow us to submit the following weird and unusual scholarships for your consideration. (Note that most of these scholarships are offered annually. If the due date for this year has already past, create a calendar reminder to check back in a few months.)

1. Do you want to study puppetry abroad?

Ohmygosh, so do we!

But this isn’t about us. It’s about you. And if you think puppets are just the coolest (like we do!), and you like to travel (we like that, too!), then you should check out UNIMA-USA’s scholarships for people who want to study puppetry outside the U.S.

UNIMA stands for Union Internationale de la Marionnette. UNIMA-USA is the North American branch of the organization, which seeks to promote understanding and friendship through puppetry. 

You will need to fork over $35 to join UNIMA before applying for this $1,000 scholarship, but if you're that into puppets, it's probably a good thing to join anyway. Note: Having a working knowledge of a second language can a serious advantage in landing this award. 

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2. Put the F-U-N in your fund for clown-education 

While we’re on the subject of entertainment, some of you might be interested to know that Clowns of America, Inc. has a scholarship for people who want to be doctors … er, clowns.

Yes, definitely clowns and NOT doctors.

Applications will be judged by Jim “Soapy” Dixon. How fun is that? (Super fun. Obvi.)

3. (And ... switching gears ...)Who wants to go into the funeral biz?

Let’s talk about death for a moment, shall we?

You’re going to die someday and so are we, and someone is going to need to bury all of us. If you’d like to be that person, you should really rethink your plan because it’s impossible to bury yourself.

But if you’d like to bury other people (preferably deceased ones), the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) would like to help make sure you get the proper training.

Scholarships are generally awarded in amounts ranging fronm $1,500-$2,000.

4. Vegetarians: eat your greens to make some green

Attention, vegetarians! The Vegetarian Resource Group has a total of $20,000 in scholarship funds for vegetarians who promote the meat-free/fish-free lifestyle in their schools or communities.

Bonus: You can let your passion for passionfruit shine through, because these scholarships are awarded based on the amount of heart and dedication the applicants show.

5. No, we didn't forget about the meat eaters

On the flipside, the CME Group & the National Cattlemen's Foundation has ten $1,500 scholarships for students who plan to work in the beef industry.

Possibly even more exciting than nabbing some of that sweet scholarship money? Past winners have been granted a trip to the industry trade show (held in a different locale each year), where they've been honored at the Best of Beef Awards Breakfast. Wonder what’s on the menu?

6. You're just lazy if you don't apply for this one

So here’s the thing: fires can kill people.

And here’s another thing: automatic fire sprinklers can save people.

The American Fire Sprinkler Association wants more people to know this.

Every year, they give out ten $2,000 scholarships to students like you. How do you apply? Super-dee-dooper easy: just spend a few minutes reading over their fire safety info and then take a quick quiz.

That’s it. Winners are randomly selected. What have you got to lose, other than that gaping void in your brain that is just aching to be filled with fire safety facts?

7. When fashion sticks

Believe it or not, you could win $10,000 just for doing one eensy weensy teeny tiny thing … wearing an outfit made of Duck Tape to your prom.

Duck Brand has a Stuck at Prom Scholarship contest for people who are creative and daring enough to create their prom ensembles out of Duck Tape.

For some people this might be a big ask. For others, it might just be a great way to save money on prom attire while also potentially making money for college.

Check out the scholarship page to see pix of last year’s winners. (Editor’s note:  WOW.)

8. When you are a towering example

‘Scuze our lame tall joke … if you’re tall, you’ve probably heard them all by now. But here’s something you maybe haven’t heard: Tall Clubs International wants to help tall people pay for college.

Let us sum up the main criteria for this scholarship: be tall.

Contact your local Tall Club International chapter to apply.

9. If it walks like a duck ...

Actually, scratch that. It doesn’t matter how you walk. It just matters how you quack.

The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest is an annual contest put on the by the Stuttgart, AR, Chamber of Commerce. The town, which calls itself the “Rice and Duck Capital of the World,” runs this little shindig to honor the memories of legendary champion duck callers and duck-call makers, Chick and Sophie Major.

Note: If you want to win the grand prize of $2,000 (or any prize, for that matter), you’re going to need to show up in-person for the Duck Calling Contest, which usually takes place in November. We hear it’s a quackin’ good time.

10. Diving for dollars

The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society has a super cool opportunity for students hoping to work underwater.

“Work underwater.” That probably needs some more explanation, yes?

This scholarship is geared toward multiple disciplines that require below-surface water work, including field studies, underwater research, scientific expeditions, equipment testing and design, and photography.

Recipients of this scholarship don’t get cash-in-hand for college studies. Rather, they get up $25,000 to fund a year's worth of travel and living expenses while they work with other underwater professionals around the world to explore different professional opportunities.

11. But wait! There's even more underwater fun!

The Morgan/O’Neill Underwater Photography Grant is just for women who are pursuing a career related to diving, such as conservation, marine biology, underwater archaeology, education (marine or freshwater), dive instructor education, and dive medicine.

12. Kill zombies for college cash

Nope, that headline is not some tricky wordplay to get you to read this. The Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship committee wants to hear about your survival strategy for when stuff starts gettin' real, in the undead sense.

Spell out your plans to survive the zombies, including what five things you'd need to carry out your plan. The winner gets $2,000 for college.

13. Like video games? Score!

Scholarships for people who want to go into the video game industry are multiplying like a bunch of creepers after you put a creeper egg into a spawner. (Can we get some points for the Minecraft reference, please? Or is Minecraft not cool anymore? Is a "spawner" a thing? Never mind.)

In any case, Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation awards three different gaming scholarships, including one for LGBTQ applicants, and another that focuses on e-sports.

14. Invent your future

The National Inventors Hall of Fame is looking to spark innovation by rewarding those crazy ideas that just might be crazy enough to work … or even change the world.

This scholarship competition not only offers money for college, it gives talented young inventors the opportunity to network and brainstorm with some of the top inventors in the country.

15. Yes, this one is more unusual than zombies

Finally, we’d like to share with you the most interestingly specific scholarship we have found.

The Zolp Scholarship is for any Catholic student whose last name is Zolp, who also happens to attend Loyola University Chicago.

Don’t go getting any bright ideas about changing your identity, either. To claim this scholarship, you’ll need to pony up a copy of your birth certificate AND a baptismal or confirmation certificate confirming your last name and your status as a Catholic.

The good news: there are no academic or athletic requirements for this one.

Hey … remember what we told you at the start of this article?

You really don’t need to be a mathalete or a jock to get college money. We hate to say we told you so … but we totally did.

Published in: Scholarships

About the Author
Trish Sammer

Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer

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