Friday, January 25, 2013

Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware 3: Careful with Promotions & Contests

Scholarship ContestsSaturdays we share tips or cautions to facilitate getting scholarships or avoid problems

Promotions Masquerade as Scholarships

I repeat what I’ve said earlier. Most of the scholarship search engines we will share with you do not cost you anything. They receive their funding from banner ads, selling emails, and other sources. Their biggest source of income, however, has become promotions, contests, and surveys.

Promotions appear on your lists of results for many search engines. They typically announce their intent to promote a specific product or service. Frequently, the search engine itself sponsors the contest. You need to read the fine print to determine how safe the promotion is. For example, I copied this phrase from one particular promotion “If you express interest in particular schools or affiliates, College Prowler Inc. may sell or transfer your personal information to those schools or affiliates accordingly.”

Of course, the search engines put a positive spin., for example, states

“While it seems that the overachievers eventually get cash from somewhere — be it their school or an independent scholarship donor — the “B” and “C” students are often overlooked.

That’s why promotional scholarships are more important than ever. Let’s face it, promotional awards may not challenge your intellect like writing an essay, but contests like FastWeb’s Why I Deserve a Scholarship video contest, Create Your Own Scholarship and Scholarship BootCamp can still earn you valuable cash for school. Most don’t have strict terms or require essays and there are lots of them out there.”

You read the warnings and fine print. You decide.


Legitimate and Illegitimate Contests

Contests are a closely related cousin to the promotional scholarships. Some contests legitimately create situations for you to compete against others based on the skills of the applicant. For example,

  • Film contests for the student that produces and submits the best video based on a theme
  • Piano contests for the person who submits the best tape or live piano performance

Illegitimate contests will ask you to do something or submit something that enters you in a drawing.

Tuesday we will review the scholarship search engine

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