Introduction

Who deserves to win a scholarship? Committees of trustees, administrators, and others determine the answer today for billions of dollars in traditional scholarship awards. Their determinations are typically made around values we generally take for granted as necessary and good: hard work, scholarship, academic achievement, religious faith, athletic prowess, and community involvement--just to name a few.


A non-intuitive question arises, however, as to whether these values are, indeed, ones that will generate necessary changes in our world. We look at the persistent challenges of the Middle East, Darfur, and Afghanistan; the worldwide bloodshed over religious views and traditions; and the global gap between rich and poor. All of these problems have persisted and, in some cases, worsened, under the watch of today's leaders and elites. Yet the values of these elites--typically the same ones reinforced through scholarship committees--dominate.


Pardon us, but skepticism seems in order: will the great issues of our time ever be effectively addressed by the same old value systems? Or could the values that would be directly and collectively expressed independently by the next generation--values perhaps different and even offbeat from those traditionally held--be ones that lead to change?


Today, CollegeNET begins an experiment to give the next generation more say over who wins the money to advance through our educational system. If you are a student who needs a scholarship or you are a former student trying to pay off a loan, you can earn money by writing on topics in ways that persuade others to vote for you. And by voting, you can exercise control applying your judgment and values towards the collective choice of winners. If you are not enrolled in college, not planning to enroll, or have no student loan, you can't win a scholarship on this site, but you can still post to the forums and have a voice through your votes.


The Basics

If you want to be a scholarship candidate and vote:

  1. Sign up for an account.
    You must be a current or future college student to be eligible for a scholarship award. Click here for eligibility requirements.
  2. Create a personal profile.
    This is the first "window" prospective voters will have into your personality and accomplishments, so compose it with care!
  3. Explore the discussion forums until you find topics that interest you, or create your own topics, then take part in the discussions by posting messages to them.

All visitors to this site can read your profile and messages. Some may be other scholarship candidates, others simply people interested in you or in a particular issue or topic.


People who are intrigued by what you've written -- other candidates or non-candidate voters -- can vote for you to receive a scholarship.


You earn points for each vote you receive and for each vote you cast. The voting system is weighted, and the point value assigned to each vote varies according to participation, communication skill, and engagement factors. The scoring algorithm assigns higher weights to Voters and Candidates who make greater contributions to the Site as assessed collectively by other voters.


At the end of each election cycle (about once a week) we tally the points, award scholarships to the candidates with the most points, and kick off a new election. If there's a point tie, the scholarship money is divided equally among the winning candidates. From time to time, additional scholarships may become available that are restricted to certain candidates -e.g. attendees at a particular college. These restricted awards may be based upon points earned over a longer cycle.


Click here for more information about how it works and tips to maximize your chances of winning.


If you just want to participate in the discussion forums and vote for scholarship candidates:

  1. Sign up for an account.
    Anyone can sign up for an account and vote for scholarship candidates. Click here for more information.
  2. Explore the discussion forums and candidate profiles.
  3. When you encounter a candidate you think is deserving, vote for that person. You can vote once per day per Competition Period, and you can't vote for the same person more than once per election.
    At the end of each election cycle (about once a week), we tally the points, award scholarships to the candidates with the most points, and kick off a new election. If there's a point tie, the scholarship money is divided equally among the winning candidates.

Click here for more information about how it works and how to start voting.


How to get started

To post messages to a forum, vote for a candidate, or become a candidate yourself, sign up for an account. Accounts are free -- CollegeNET is advertiser supported. Remember, it is cheating to create more than one account, or to utilize for any purpose an account created by another person.


To find an interesting discussion, check out the most recent messages and hottest topics, explore topics that match a category or tag, or search for specific messages and topics.


To find a specific candidate, search by screen name, school, or keywords you might remember from their personal profile.


To begin a conversation on a topic you don't already see on the site, start a new discussion forum.


To get answers to questions about using the site, go to our Help Center.