Graduation is coming in hot!! You scared? You nervous? Totally understandable. You are, once again, about to venture into the unknown. You’re either at the top of the food chain right now, or maybe you’ll be entering your senior year (and getting king/queen of the jungle status) after the summer.
You’re one of the Old Guard at Central High. A grizzled veteran of primary academia.
You’ve gone through the K-12 schooling crucible and you’ve come out the other side (mostly) unscathed. We’re proud of you. But the fight to acquire knowledge isn’t over.
The good news is: you’re a little bit ahead of the pack. You think that you might enjoy pursuing a gaming major. Whether it’s animation, game design, computer science, or some other related field, you’ve set your sights on an academic end goal. If you change your mind along the way, that’s fine, but for now you want to give a gaming major a shot.
Just because you want to design games for a living doesn’t mean you’re willing to break the bank to do so. Before you can start earning from a career in game development, you need to pay. College is expensive these days.
The good news is, you have a number of game design programs at affordable and semi-affordable colleges. And the even better news is, you can get some scholarships!
Aspiring Animation Professionals
Don’t let the title of the scholarship program fool you; you do not need to be specifically pursuing a degree in animation. This scholarship applies to other related fields.
The program’s site lists eligible degrees as: 3D animation, computer animation, digital design, game development, and game design (there are even more, but these are the most applicable for gaming majors).
The scholarship prize? A single scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating high school senior, in the amount of $1,000 dollars. To be eligible, you’ll need to be planning to attend a postsecondary school with accreditation.
To compete for this scholarship, you’ll need to have a successful academic record, and you’ll need to whip up an essay (between 500 and 1000 words).
The essay for this year covered this topic: What specific skill do you most want to develop? You can find all the details, and start the application process, over at animationcareerreview.com.
Every year, the submission deadline is June 1st (just missed this year!), with the winner announced in July, and the scholarship funds distributed in August. If you’re a high school junior now, this is a good scholarship to add to your “opportunities” list for next year.
Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund
You are only eligible for this scholarship opportunity if you are a full-time undergraduate student going into your sophomore year of college (that’s your second year, FYI!). You need to be pursuing a career that will eventually get you into the game industry.
You need to maintain a 3.3 GPA for this scholarship, so make sure you’re in it to win it, academically speaking.
This scholarship is quite the prize horse. There are two winners, and those rewarded with the scholarship receive $2,500 dollars. Here is a link to the website www.interactive.org. And for a link directly to the 2016/2017 application, click here. Your application needs to be submitted by June 30th! There is little time!
Some other notable criteria: two letters of recommendation, a maximum two-page letter explaining your studies and how you’ll benefit the industry, as well as your financial need situation.
This fund is looking to help people in a very tight financial spot, but don’t let some financial security stop you from applying; better to apply and be denied than to have wondered but never tried.
If you’ve assembled a real Ace squad of game design friends, there’s a way for you to team up with them and earn some serious real-world loot. Microsoft offers an annual competition, called the ImagineCup, where teams of up to four eligible students compete in one of three different categories for serious prizes.
One of the big competitions is the Games Competition, where each team is responsible for developing a complete piece of software. The presented software needs to be completed in a way where the judges are able to use it, play it, and judge it. The grand-prize winner in this category takes home $50,000 dollars.
This is money that can be used for anything (like furthering your education!). The primary eligibility requirement is that you’re at least 16 years old. For the competition, you’ll be using Windows design software to program your games. Games could be desktop, mobile, or browser-based. You need to sign up by January in order to compete in that year’s games.
They get underway that same month. You can head over there to check out the current competitors right now, as they’ve only just wrapped up the semi-final stage of the competition. The 2016 World Champion has yet to be crowned.
The List Goes On
These are just the tip of the iceberg! Whether you’re in high school or college, solo or teamed up, there are ways for you to chip away at the tuition costs of your gaming degree. It doesn’t stop with the few scholarships we’ve listed above. We just wanted to let you know the opportunities are out there; There are tons more to choose from.
Check out this list at MyCollegeOptions for a wealth of potential scholarships. CollegeScholarships is another helpful site, providing even more scholarship opportunities. The internet is your friend with this one. And, why not, here’s a third list of scholarships, from FastWeb. Just for good measure.
There’s nothing precluding you from applying for more than one scholarship, either. Don’t be afraid to crank out applications. Scholarships for $500 or $1,000 dollars might not seem like much on their own…but if you bag a few of them, all of a sudden you’re making a nice little dent in your future college loans.
And of course, this article only focused on the scholarships specific to game industry majors. There are plenty of “general” scholarships out there for which you can apply regardless of certain criteria (like your major, your financial situation, or your academic standing). Putting a little time in now can save you thousands of dollars later. So…do it!