When people ask about your major or what you want to study, you’ll sometimes get raised eyebrows and looks of confusion. That’s even more true for students who study more obscure topics, like turf grass science.
But that’s not to say every uncommon major will lead to a dead-end job. In fact, there’s probably a professional organization or student association out there to help develop your career, and some scholarships to fund your studies. Here are a few scholarships to help current or prospective students who may declare a more unusual major.
Urban forestry: While most people think of forests as secluded and rural, trees and other plants also play a vital role in urban areas, providing ecological and economic benefits to some of the largest cities in the world. A major like urban forestry prepares students for all sorts of careers related to improving the quality of life for urban residents.
The Tree Fund offers scholarships especially for students interested in shaping the future of trees in urban and suburban communities. The Robert Felix Memorial scholarship program is for current undergrad or technical college students pursuing a career in commercial arboriculture, including urban forestry and related fields.
In addition to application materials like an essay describing your career goals and three letters of recommendation, you’ll also need proof of student membership in the International Society of Arboriculture. The student membership is only $30, and you’ll get access to discounted products and resources. The application for the $3,000 award is open now, and will be accepted until April 1.
[Learn more about where to find horticulture scholarships for college.]
Leisure studies: The words “leisure” and “studies” may seem like complete opposites, but that’s not so. There are actually a number of different programs related to leisure studies that lead to fulfilling careers.
You could focus on sports as a leisure activity, working in a health-related field to better the well-being of your community. You could focus on therapeutic recreation, where you specialize in helping people cope with major life events through leisure activities. Or you could have a career in a parks and recreation setting, educating people of all ages about conservation.
Whatever your leisure interest, there’s probably something for you, and that’s where the National Recreation and Park Association can help. The association’s mission is to to advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. They also support thousands of park and recreation professionals through professional development, advocacy and with other resources.
To help students get a start in their career, the association offers several scholarships for students to attend its annual conference, where award recipients are paired with a mentor to inspire future participation and leadership in the organization. Recipients also have a chance to meet with association leaders and connect with other professional contacts advancing public parks, recreation and conservation.
The association offers diversity and student scholarships, and a young professional fellowship. Each requires association membership, but with a discounted student rate. Be sure to check their website soon. Information about 2015 programs will be posted online this February.
Theme park engineering: Do you have a favorite ride at your nearest theme park, or have you ever considered designing those rides yourself? Studying theme park engineering could be your ticket to a thrilling career of technology and innovation.
You’ll use both creative and scientific skills in a very hands-on way, potentially building some of the most exciting rides and attractions for people to enjoy for years to come.
The area of study may seem pretty specific, but there are luckily a lot of engineering scholarships available, especially as science, technology, engineering and math jobs continue to be in high demand.
Corporations like Kelly Services offer awards for students who are committed to a career in engineering. The company’s Future Engineers Scholarship Program awards a $5,000 scholarship to a second- or third-year undergrad student who has at least a 3.0 GPA.
Last year’s application included an essay component, requiring candidates to briefly explain their career goals and how they would encourage students to choose engineering as a career choice. While this year’s topic has yet to be announced, check back later this year for an updated application.