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There's a scholarship for that?

By By Chris Cole
Published On: May 02 2013 08:26:01 PM CDT

Unique scholarships for unique people

The school year isn't quite over, but many students are looking ahead to college, and some are wondering how to pay for it.

There are a number of scholarships up for grabs, but those looking to attend college just need to take the important first step of applying for them.

It took two months for Century High School student Joey Barnhisel to complete her scholarship application for the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism scholarship.

I was particularly excited to meet her to discuss the scholarship, because I was a recipient in 2008. It was a great opportunity to meet an up-and-coming journalist ready to make her mark on the world.

Not only is she the only winner from Idaho, she gets to go on an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., this summer.

She said it all started with an online search.

'I just put in journalism, and up pops four scholarships,” said Barnhisel. “Granted, they're almost always for seniors because seniors need the money."

She's applying for multiple scholarships as a junior, something that's strongly recommended by Idaho State University scholarship experts.

"There's a lot of money out there,” said Debbie Green, associate director of scholarships. “But they need to be very proactive about it, and also be cautious, too."

She said scholarships should never ask for your Social Security number, or any other irrelevant personal information.

One of the main things that stops people from applying are the deadlines. If you don't make the deadline, you can't get the award.

Another aspect are those big scholarships, like athletics. The more people who apply for them, the tougher it is to get them.

That's why it's important to think outside of the box. There are a lot of scholarship opportunities out there, some with specific requirements.

If you're in a unique situation, there may be a scholarship with your name on it.

Some scholarships even go unclaimed.

"It doesn't happen often, but we do have some that are pretty specific that make it a little bit harder for students,” said Green.  “We just don't see as many applications for those."

In southeast Idaho, there are a number of scholarships for parents, working students, and non-traditional students. There are trends in the types of scholarships as well.

Green also said it's important to find which university you are going to, and apply for scholarships specific to that university.

"There's a lot of money out there for leadership-type scholarships,” state Green, “and I'm seeing more and more of those."

For Joey Barnhisel, it's likely she will be going to college with a lot of scholarships paying her way.

And while some scholarship applications can cause a lot of pressure, she says she's used to working under the deadlines of the Sojourner yearbook, the Snakeskin newspaper and the Idaho State Journal.

"It's stressful, so everyone's like, 'So how does that weight on your shoulders feel?'" said Barnhisel. “And I'm like, 'It feels great. I'm just doing some presses. It's great."

In addition to traditional academic, athletic and need-based scholarships, students should keep their eye open for more unique options.

There are scholarships for left-handed people, people who are vegetarians and for men and women who are considered tall.

There are even scholarships for fans of Star Trek, who speak Klingon and are familiar with Klingon culture.     

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