When most of us think of college scholarships, we imagine a sum of money awarded to students for academic achievement or athletic prowess. But some scholarships are awarded for far quirkier reasons — and you may even qualify.

While not all options will work for every type of student, these odd scholarships are still worth exploring if you are looking for unique ways to get some college cash.

10 best bizarre college scholarships to apply for

Your talents and hobbies can set you apart and help you qualify for college money. While the scholarships below are a great place to start searching for funding, scholarship search engines can also help you narrow down the field to scholarships that truly suit you.

1. Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship

The Vegetarian Resource Group offers two $5,000 scholarships and one $10,000 scholarship each year to graduating high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools or communities. Applicants are judged on their compassion and dedication to the vegetarian or vegan cause. Among the application requirements is an essay addressing the applicants’ perspective on vegetarianism and their future goals.

Amount: $10,000 for the first prize, $5,000 for two runners-up

Deadline: Feb. 20, 2023

Apply here: https://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

2. Michael Moody Fitness Scholarship

If you’re pursuing a career in health and fitness, you can apply for the Michael Moody Fitness Scholarship. Requirements include excellent academic performance and participation in school and work activities. Only 1,000 applications are taken each year, so apply as soon as you can if you’re interested.

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: Aug. 1, 2023

Apply here: https://www.michaelmoodyfitness.com/student-scholarship-chicago

3. Debt.com Scholarship for Aggressive Scholarship Applicants

Debt.com offers a $500 scholarship for applying for scholarships. All you have to do is apply for as many other scholarships as you can, then compile the application emails and write a short essay about yourself. The website hands out multiple scholarships throughout the year, and a new winner is chosen every two months.

Amount: $500

Deadline: Jan. 15., 2023

Apply here: https://www.debt.com/our-story/scholarships/

4. Foreclosure.com Scholarship Program

Foreclosure.com offers a scholarship to students willing to write an essay on a topic relating to homeownership. This year’s assigned topic has not yet been announced, but previous topics have included rent-to-own and the foreclosure moratorium. The essay must be 800 to 2,000 words long.

Amount: $2,500 for the first prize, $500 for runners-up

Deadline: Check back in 2023

Apply here: https://www.foreclosure.com/scholarship/

5. Jonestshirt.com Love Your Career Scholarship

Jonestshirt.com offers a scholarship twice a year to students who write an essay on actions they plan on taking to start a career they’ll love. This essay must be 1,000 to 3,000 words long, and you must also interview someone who has been working in your desired career for a minimum of three years.

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: Jan. 10, 2023 (winter semester); Sept. 10, 2023 (fall semester)

Apply here: https://www.jonestshirts.com/pages/scholarship

6. Ayn Rand Essay Contest

The Ayn Rand Institute hosts an essay contest each year for high school students. Participants read one of three Ayn Rand novels and then write a book report. Your essay is graded based on factors including its organization, clarity and how well it demonstrates your understanding of the book.

Amount: $2,000-$10,000

Deadline: April 27, 2023

Apply here: https://aynrand.org/students/essay-contests/

7. Niche.com No Essay Scholarship

Niche.com offers a monthly drawing for all high school and college students. Winners receive a $2,000 scholarship. To qualify, you must create a Niche.com account. You can apply once per month.

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: Jan. 31, 2023

Apply here: https://www.niche.com/colleges/scholarships/no-essay-scholarship/scholarship-rules/

8. Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship

Gallerycollection.com hosts a greeting card contest for high school and college students. To enter, you must upload an original design for the front of a greeting card. Entrants must be at least 14 years old.

Amount: $10,000

Deadline: March 2, 2023

Apply here: https://www.gallerycollection.com/greeting-cards-scholarship.htm

9. CardsDirect Future Designer Scholarship

Are you an artist or designer? CardsDirect awards a scholarship each year to the designer of their favorite holiday card art. The winning artwork will also be featured as a product on CardsDirect’s website. Artwork will be judged on overall aesthetic appeal, creativity, originality, quality of execution and versatility and applicability for use as a greeting card.

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: Check back in 2023

Apply here: https://www.cardsdirect.com/scholarship.aspx

10. Western Golf Association Evans Scholarship

If you are an experienced golf caddy with financial needs, you could qualify for this scholarship. The Evans Scholarship covers full tuition and housing at 21 universities for high-achieving caddies. The application is open to college freshmen and requires that you demonstrate a strong caddie record, excellent academic achievement and financial need.

Amount: Full tuition and housing

Deadline: Oct. 15, 2023 (applications available in August)

Apply here: https://www.wgaesf.org/a-life-changing-opportunity/applying-evans-scholarship

Tips for being proactive on scholarship applications

Applying for scholarships can feel daunting. For most scholarships, there are a lot of applicants, so you want your application to stand out. If you plan on applying for scholarships, here are a few tips for being proactive in the process.

  • Don’t apply when you’re unlikely to qualify. There are so many scholarships available that you shouldn’t try to apply to ones where you have to stretch to meet the requirements. Instead, look for scholarships where you are well within the parameters outlined for applicants and focus energy where you are most likely to be selected.
  • Make a deadline calendar. Applying for multiple scholarships can easily become overwhelming. Once you’ve chosen scholarships to apply for, make a calendar of the different deadlines and organize the work you have to do for each application accordingly.
  • Reuse application material when possible. You never want to reuse a whole essay for multiple applications, but it’s smart to reuse pieces of your writing or applications where possible. This will help you eliminate extra work where unnecessary.
  • Apply early. Most applications don’t give preference to earlier applicants (although some do). However, planning to apply early will help you have breathing room when applying to multiple scholarships. It will also help you feel less stressed in the process.

Alternatives to scholarships

Paying for college may seem like an insurmountable task, but there are a lot of resources available to make the process easier. Here are some strategies to consider as you plan your next steps:

  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form helps state and federal agencies determine the aid you may qualify for, which can include grants. You also need to fill out a FAFSA form to apply for federal student loans, which come with fixed interest rates and benefits like deferment, forbearance and income-driven repayment plans.
  • Look into work-study jobs. Work-study programs can help you pay for school as you go if you’re willing to work part time. You’ll need to fill out the FAFSA form to see which work-study opportunities are available for the college you’ve chosen.
  • Take out private student loans. While federal student loans are usually the best place to start after taking any scholarships or grants into account, many students fill the gap with private student loans. Student loans from a private lender can come with low interest rates if you have good or excellent credit or a co-signer, so they’re worth exploring.

The bottom line

Scholarships are available for many different groups of people, interests and hobbies. With some expert searching — for example, using a scholarship search engine or roundup lists — you can find some niche scholarships.

If you decide to apply for scholarships, be proactive and stay on top of deadlines. Through hard work and a little quirkiness, you could find some great scholarship opportunities.