I’m still catching up with some of the comments left during the last few months of my pathetic absence from this site, and today I’m going to address one that’s come up multiple times.
You may have seen references all over the Web to “scholarships” that seem to require very little of their applicants. Some are the “$10,000 Scholarship Zone” program, and others include “Scholarships For Moms,” “Scholarships for Dads,” “Military Scholarships” and, more recently, “Scholarships for Working Adults.”
These scholarships are usually for a big prize (I usually see $10,000) and are given away rather often — twice a month, usually, from what I’ve seen. And many of you want to know whether these scholarships are legit, or if they’re just a way for the company to collect your personal information so that they can sell it to other companies.
The answer is usually “yes,” on all counts. I’ll explain.
First of all, while I don’t run any of the programs or know anyone who does, I do feel reasonably confident (confident enough to declare it here on my site, anyway) that yes, these $10,000 awards are actually given. I call them “awards” rather than scholarships because I believe the winners are chosen at random — there’s not much scrutinizing of your scholarly achievements (you aren’t even asked to provide evidence of them, usually, so how could they?). Essentially, these are drawings, not true scholarships, not according to my personal definition, anyway.
So, why do these random websites just give away $10,000 every two weeks? And, of course, HOW do they come up with the money to do so? There’s got to be something more to it, and there is. Yes, as our earlier commenters suspected, most of these contests require you to check a box agreeing to allow your personal information to be shared with other companies. And then, of course, they go rent and/or sell your information to marketing companies.
So, that’s about the size of it; it isn’t really any more complicated than that. Oh wait, yes it is — there’s more!
You see these links everywhere you go on the Web, don’t you? I certainly do. Well, that’s because website owners everywhere have a great incentive to promote these drawings, and that’s because the people who run the drawings pay a kickback (er, referral fee) for each student that websites refer. The fee is usually between $2 and $4 per student. This is known as “affiliate marketing” and it’s a huge industry across the Internet, and very much so in the field of higher education.
For example, ever wonder why you see absolutely TONS of links to online schools like University of Phoenix, Argosy University, Full Sail University, etc., everywhere you go on the Web? It’s because those schools pay BIG referral fees to affiliates who refer students into their programs. These online colleges pay between $25 and $35 for every prospective student who fully fills out their little online questionnaire about attending online classes and such. Not a bad payday if you can get it, eh? Exactly. And that’s why websites everywhere trip all over themselves to get you to fill out the form on their site — or, in our original case, apply for a scholarship drawing.
Personally, I do post links to these type of scholarship drawings, and I’m ok with it (and I’m especially OK with it after explaining to you in this post how it all works). There are a lot of people — most people, I think — who won’t want to participate in the drawings knowing that their information is going to be used for marketing. Then again, there are hundreds of thousands of people who will happily fork over the information (that lots of marketers already have anyway) for a shot at $10,000. It’s just a personal decision, and I’m not going to make it for you — you can decide.
So there you have it, an explanation in brief of these ever-present $10,000 scholarship drawings. Any more questions or comments? Leave ‘em below and I’ll answer within 24 hours. Thanks!
“Judge Josh” Barsch
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