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  • Genine Babakian

College Funding for Duck Callers, Donut Lovers and Tall People: The Weird World of Private Scholarsh

I fell down a rabbit hole yesterday, landing in the eccentric world of weird college scholarships. Facing the prospect of having two children in college this September, I thought a few hours researching private funding sources would be time well spent. It may be too early to report any return on investment, but for pure entertainment value, the search was well worth it.

While the afternoon started off predictably – with scholarships for sporty types, business leaders and girls in STEM – I soon took a turn into the unexpected. The scholarship celebrating duck calling skills was certainly an indicator of more interesting funding sources to come. The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest offers “high school seniors who demonstrate talent in duck calling” $2,000 toward their education. I wondered how quickly my son could hone his mallard communication skills, until I realized that he had to attend a contest in Stuttgart, Arkansas to participate. A no go for us, but if there are any duck callers out there who reside within driving distance, keep it in mind.

I dug deeper, discovering scholarships for people who like donuts, people who work in ice-cream stores, and people who live near a particular mall. Funds for the left-handed, and people who feel strongly about e-waste. Teens committed to helping rescue animals may apply to the Scholars Helping Collars scholarship. There is the TeenDrive365 Video Challenge, which, in lieu of an application, asks high school students to submit a brief video encouraging their peers to drive safely.

The scholarship for tall people gave me pause. Started in the 1930s by a woman who was mocked for her stature, the Tall Club International offers $1,000 scholarships to kids who meet the minimum height requirements (5’10” for women, and 6’2” for men). I immediately texted my son.

“How tall are you?” I asked. “This is an emergency.”

“I think I’m 6’1”,” he replied. “Why?”

“Can’t you be taller?” I urged him. “Even a little?”

I proposed several weeks of yoga and a diet rich in Calcium. Who knows? Maybe he can eke out that extra half inch in time for the application deadline. I found no corresponding scholarships for short people.

In the meantime, I am looking into scholarships for people of different ethnicities. Since my children are half Dutch, I tried that first but got no results. I found a scholarship linked to every other European nationality, but I guess my kids are going Dutch treat. Luckily, the other half of their DNA – which is Armenian – features a host of scholarships. True, they are not eligible for many of them, nor do they speak a word of the language. But if they can learn how to call ducks, they can learn some Armenian. College is not going to pay for itself.

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