A scholarship pageant is a competition offering scholarships to participants. It is run much like a traditional beauty pageant where participants are judged on presentation and appearance, but may include a service and talent element. Organizations around the world host scholarship pageants offering a variety of prizes. Competitors may be eligible for prize money even if they do not win, and the amount of funds available can vary. Some pageants offer cash for school, while others require participants to designate a specific educational institution as a payee.
Competitors in a scholarship pageant typically need to present themselves in several different events where judges have an opportunity to score them. These may include swimsuit competitions as well as evening and formal wear events. A talent portion may provide an opportunity to demonstrate a skill. Participants also undergo interviews where they talk about their interests and goals. In some organizations, regional pageants feed to larger competitions which eventually terminate with a national or international competition.
Participants in a scholarship pageant need to adhere to strict rules published by the parent organization. These can include eligibility requirements, which may limit participants by age and educational status. Some are limited to specific communities, often with the goal of promoting higher educational attainment among minority groups. People may need to agree to certain conduct restrictions as well, which may include limitations on personal relationships and activities like having children out of wedlock. Such restrictions are designed to protect the integrity of the sponsoring organization.
For each event, individual rules may dictate the boundaries of appropriate behavior and presentation. A scholarship pageant typically limits the type of makeup and hairstyles used, for example. Some may allow very elaborate and glitzy costumes, hair, and makeup, while others insist on a more natural look. Specifications about hemlines and garment sizing can also be included, sometimes in the interest of creating a uniform look and feel. Swimsuits, for example, may need to be in the same color range.
Participants in a scholarship pageant are judged not just on physical appearance, but also poise, personal conduct, and presentation. Judges may also consider the goals and service records of participants. Someone who wants to be a doctor and has worked in hospitals and clinics, for example, has a demonstrated track record to support her claims. Pageant organizers as well as notable public figures may serve as judges, providing a range of scores for each candidate to ensure the fairest possible scoring.