A Ball State student has received $5,000 after winning a scholarship contest created by the popular website CollegeHumor.com.
David Cole, a sophomore acting major, is one of two grand prize winners of what CollegeHumor has called “The Average Student Scholarship Contest.” CollegeHumor started the contest in the interest of students who usually get passed up for scholarships.
“Some of the funniest, longest-serving writers at CollegeHumor — myself included — were unexceptional students,” said Streeter Seidell, editor-in-chief of CollegeHumor.com, in a press release. “We did our work and got decent grades, but we never really stood out in either direction academically. And now, in these difficult economic times, it’s getting harder for average students like we were to get free money for no reason at all.”
To enter, students were asked to submit an essay no longer than 1000 words, explaining why they deserved the award of “most average student.” Additional material, such as photos and video, was acceptable for submission. The contest focused on three primary characteristics, including “academic average, humor and originality.”
Cole, who follows CollegeHumor’s blog on Tumblr, said he tried to appeal to the inherent humor in an average student’s life in his submission.
“Everything that I put in the application was obviously true, but it’s a humor website, so I was trying to pick things about myself that they would find humorous,” Cole said.
Cole’s submission, which included a video of him eating the contents of a Steak N’ Shake seasoning packet on a dare, also featured the shortest essay of all winners, including the four runner-ups.
“It was one of those things where I just got to the point of ‘look, here it is—There’s nothing that extraordinary about me.’” he said. “I think they picked the application they enjoyed the most, because even the four people that were runner-ups, all of them come across to me as the same amount of averageness. I think it was just kind of what they found the funniest and what they could get the most hype with.”
Cole’s application highlights his 2.083 GPA, his poor attendance record with Ball State’s rock climbing club, of which he is a member, and his academic probation because “my professors can’t remember any of my work in my studio classes.”
Though the contest is meant to be a humorous observation of how colleges allocate scholarships, the prize of $5,000 means much to Cole’s family.
“My parents didn’t get together until about ten years ago, so for them, as far as college planning didn’t really start until maybe about five or six years ago,” Cole said. “There’s this help coming in, but it’s been about half-and-half with me and my parents paying for college, so this is going to be extremely helpful.”
Cole’s financial situation is not an uncommon one in today’s economy. According to the nonprofit group American Student Assistance, nearly 20 million Americans attend a college. Of that 20 million, roughly 60 percent will borrow money to help cover costs, resulting in at least $902 billion worth of student debt.
“For me, you know, applying to the scholarship was a ‘why not?’” Cole said. “It can’t hurt, it’s a chance, especially for someone who’s needing a little extra financial help. It’s like, any scholarship you can find, no matter how ridiculous it seems, somebody has to win them and award them, so you might as well apply.”
Devan Filchak contributed to this story.