This line is commonly believed to have been spoken by Thomas Edison, as told in Harper's Monthly Magazine (1932).
You're chillin' on your bed with your headphones on, when suddenly, an idea pops into your head. It's brilliant. You're a genius. See how much effort that took? One percent. And when you wake up the next morning, is the idea still brilliant? Yes?
Now how do you take that idea from inspiration to real-world application? Edison is giving you a little forewarning with this quote; you'll have to dial back your personal life and focus on work, work, work. That's the 99 percent.
There is some doubt, though, on whether or not Edison said these words exactly. In an 1898 issue of Ladies Home Journal, he used the ratio of 2 to 98, and in a 1901 Idaho newspaper article, he used the ratio of 1 to 99. But the most often cited reference is to a 1932 article in Harper's Monthly Magazine that said, without providing any proof, that Edison gave this quote around 1902ish. So, as with all antiques—without provenance, ya got nothin'.
Where you've heard it
You'll hear this at the gym. "I was so inspired to work out I left a whole pool of perspiration on that machine." Ew. Makes you want to skip that treadmill for the one beside it, right?
Additional Notable References:
- In case you need help imagining what Edison sounded like when he (maybe) said this, here you go.
- Tips for the 99% part.
If you were to drop this quote at a dinner party, would you get an in-unison "awww" or would everyone roll their eyes and never invite you back? Here it is, on a scale of 1-10.
Good quote for a motivational speech, not so much for a dinner party. If the speaker is one of those 99 percent-ers, congratulate them for making it to the party at all, and hope their antiperspirant is industrial strength.
See All Quotes
Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
If you’re a Catholic with the last name Zolp, there’s literally a scholarship with your name on it — a full ride to Loyola University in Chicago.
That’s just one of the scholarships available right now for college students with unusual hobbies, career goals, and personal traits. You should also check out the Debt.com scholarship.
As the due date approaches for many of them, we’ve compiled a list of the wackiest ones we could find. Here’s a visual list of our Top 11, with details on how to apply for all 21 below that…
Now here’s the full story, plus how to apply…
1. Lovers of the number 5
A website called ScholarshipExperts.com hosts the Fifth Month Scholarship but doesn’t explain why it chose this odd topic — which is a clever PR move, because now everyone talks about it.
The rules are simple: The writer of the best 250-word essay on why the number 5 is so important wins. Sound weird? Check out the previous winners before attempting this yourself.
What it’s worth: $1,500
How to apply: Go here for more rules and application link
Deadline: May 31, 2017
2. Starfleet members
Since 1990, the SFI Scholarship has been available for members of a fan club called Starfleet International.
This is actually a series of smaller scholarships covering specific fields of study. For example, there’s the Montgomery Scott Engineering & Technology Scholarship. And theSir Patrick Stewart Scholarship for Aspiring Writers & Artists. And the…well, you get the idea.
Dues are only $10, so it might be worth joining for a shot at hundreds more.
What it’s worth: up to $1,000
How to apply: On Jan. 1, 2017, submission details will be available here
Deadline: June 15, 2017
3. Natural redheads
Blondes may have more fun, but they don’t have their own scholarship. The Scholarship for Redheads is for high school seniors to “celebrate the intelligence and creativity of those students, hoping to foster the higher education goals of those copper-headed individuals.” Since redheads comprise only 2 percent of the U.S. population, your odds are good.
What it’s worth: $500
How to apply: Send photos, including one from when you were a little kid, along with an article, drawing, or video on what it means to be a redhead. This scholarship is a small operation, so watch their Facebook page for updates on the submission period.
Each year, the Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest recognizes 81 college students, who win cash for writing about Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged and the philosophy behind it. You choose from one of three essay topics. For example…
In the novel, James Taggart’s first words are ‘Don’t bother me, don’t bother me, don’t bother me.’ Why is this significant? How do his first words relate to his thoughts and actions throughout the novel?
If you win, don’t donate any of the money to charity. If you know your Ayn Rand, you’ll understand why that’s funny.
What it’s worth: First place gets $20,000. Other cash awards go to three second-place winners ($2,000 each), five third-place winners ($1,000), 25 finalists ($100), and 50 semifinalists ($50)
How to apply: College students must submit an essay between 800 and 1,600 words.
Deadline: April 28, 2017
5. Pumpkin carvers
The Wholesale Halloween Costumes Scholarship goes to the student with the most creatively carved pumpkin. Entries are judged on “overall appearance, originality, and creativity.” Sponsored by a costume company, the rules are liberal: “You may use props, accessories, and paint to create a scene or adorn your pumpkin.”
What it’s worth: $500
How to apply: Send in your photos, no essay required
Deadline: Nov. 5, 2016
6. Single ladies on campus
The Alice McArver Ratchford Scholarship is awarded to one lucky girl at the University of North Carolina. She must live on-campus and not have any of the following: a car, a husband, or another scholarship.
UNC doesn’t explain who Ratchford was, and an Internet search turns up nothing. But it’s not a stretch to imagine she was lonely, housebound, and not very smart.
What it’s worth: Varies depending on need
How to apply: You don’t have to. By completing your FAFSA — which asks about your marital and automobile status — you’re automatically added to the scholarship pool.
Deadline: March 1, 2017
The Little People of America Scholarship is predominantly for its own members (who must be 4-foot-10 or under to join). But if no LPA member wins, an immediate relative of an LPA member can — no matter how tall or short they are. And if a relative doesn’t win, then all dwarfs are considered.
What it’s worth: $250 to over $1,000
How to apply: Details are here
Deadline: April 30 for the following school year
8. Tall people
The Tall Club International Scholarship requires women to be at least 5-foot-10 and men to exceed 6-foot-2. You don’t have to be a TCI member, but it’ll help your odds to get sponsored by one. Apparently, all you have to do is ask, possibly by looking them right in the eye.
What it’s worth: $1,000
How to apply: Details here
Deadline: March 1, 2017
The Earl Anthony Memorial Scholarship awards $25,000 annually. If you don’t know who Earl Anthony was, you probably aren’t a member of the United States Bowling Congress — and you have to be to win. You also need a 3.0 GPA. Membership starts at $10, so it might be worth the dues even if you don’t really bowl.
What it’s worth: $5,000 each for five students
How to apply: Download the application
Deadline: Dec. 1, 2016
10. Peanut butter lovers
The Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest has an age limit — 6 to 12 years old — but if you’ve got a child with an “original sandwich recipe using an eligible Jif product, an original name for the sandwich, and a photo of the completed sandwich,” they could be one of five finalists get a free trip to New York City for the winner’s announcement in mid-March. Past winners included “Crunchy, Creamy, Dreamy Finger Sandwich” and “Wushu Chicken Tacos.”
What it’s worth: A $25,000 “college fund” for one winner and a $2,500 college fund for the runner-up. Oh, and both also get a “Jif gift basket”
How to apply: Sign your kid up and submit his or her original recipe, name, and a photo.
11. Second Amendment advocates
Perhaps the most controversial scholarship on this list. The National Rifle Association offers an annual Youth Essay Contest — for not only high-schoolers but also middle-schoolers and elementary students who answer the question, “What Does The Second Amendment Mean to You?” According to NRA rules, kindergartners are eligible.
What it’s worth: First place in each category gets $1,000, second place $600, third place $200, and fourth place $100
How to apply: Mail a 1,000-word essay with your entry form. Also requires the signature of a teacher or parent to verify the essay is original
Deadline: Dec. 31, 2017
12. Anyone named Zolp
In 1977, a Catholic reverend named William A. Zolp died in Colorado. His will endowed the Zolp Scholarship, which offers free tuition to any Catholic student attending Loyola University in Chicago and who was born with the last name of Zolp.
Weirdly, Loyola officials told the Chicago Tribune they “don’t know why the scholarship was established” — Zolp never attended Loyola.
On the off chance multiple Zolps apply during a single year, “scholarship amounts will vary.” But the Tribune says only three have ever won it.
What it’s worth: Free tuition
How to apply: File your birth certificate and baptismal certificate with the Office of Student Financial Assistance
Deadline: Applicants must be admitted to Loyola by Feb. 1, 2017
13. Duck callers
In honor of the “legendary champion duck callers and duck calls makers,” the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest is held each fall in Stuttgart, Arkansas. The competition began in 1974 with a $500 scholarship. This year, a total of $4,250 in scholarships will go to high school seniors graduating next year.
The Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce boasts, “During its 38-year history, the renowned contest has awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships to young duck callers attending 32 different colleges and universities in 13 different states.”
What it’s worth: First place $2,000, second place $1,000, third place $750, fourth place $500
How to apply: Show up in Stuttgart on a date TBD in November and let loose with your best duck call
14. Duck Tape wearers
The Duck Tape Stuck At Prom contest awards an insane amount of cash for the most insane prom outfits made entirely out of Duck Tape — a particular brand of duct tape that’s sold in an array of colors and patterns. That offers lots of room for creativity, if not for allowing your skin to breathe. Check out these past winners for both inspiration and perspiration.
Entries are judged on “workmanship, originality, use of colors, accessories, and use of Duck Brand Duct Tape.” You also need photographic proof that you indeed wore your tape outfit to your prom. No shame, no game.
What it’s worth: First place $10,000 for each partner in a couple, $5,000 each for second, $3,000 each for third. Meanwhile, $1,000 awards go to seven runners up and to winners in the “singles category”
How to apply: Make your prom dress out of Duck Tape according to these intriguing rules
Deadline: May 31, 2017
If you’re a southpaw who’s been attending Juniata College (a small Pennsylvania liberal arts school) for more than a year, you’re eligible for the Frederick & Mary F. Beckley Scholarship.
The school really cares about left-handed students — they’re asked about it on the school’s admission forms. But the director of student financial planning adds, “We don’t even check closely when they are signing the forms.” So lying about left-handed can score you a scholarship, too.
What it’s worth: $2,000 to $5,000
How to apply:Submit your FAFSA
Deadline: Jan. 1, 2017
16. J.D. Salinger fans
Ursinus College is a small liberal arts college outside Philadelphia. Its claim to fame is that Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger took classes there. If you win the Ursinus College Creative Writing Award, not only do you win five figures, but you “have the honor of living in the dorm room once occupied by J.D. Salinger.”
You can submit fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction or “some combination of genres.” Unlike other scholarships that focus on high grades, you can have a B average and win. By the way, Salinger never graduated from Ursinus, but the school says, “we like to think that if his genius had been recognized with an award like this, he might have.”
What it’s worth: $32,000
How to apply: Fill out this one-page form and submit no more than 10 pages of creative writing — that’s $3,000 a page if you win. Other details here.
Deadline: Jan. 1, 2017
The Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship is meaty: $20,000 total for three high school seniors who have “shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle.” Your application requires you to detail specific achievements that prove you “promote vegetarianism” in your schools or community.
What it’s worth: $10,000 for one student and $5,000 each for two students
How to apply: Detailshere
Deadline: Feb. 20, 2018
18. Lucky people
U.S. Bank is the fifth-largest bank in the nation, but its scholarships are unlike any of its competitors — winners are selected at random. If you’re a U.S. resident who fills out the application, you’re eligible for $20,000. Take an online course for “Financial Geniuses,”, and you can get extra chances to win. And despite the banks’ name, you can’t enter if you’re a resident of New York or Florida. Sorry.
What it’s worth: $20,000 each
How to apply: Submit this application.
Deadline: October 27, 2017
19. Fire sprinkler fans
The founders of the American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship believe this: “Automatic fire sprinklers save lives and property. We cannot say it enough.” They believe it so strongly, their scholarship is simple:
Take a 10-question multiple-choice test. This is an open-book test, and you may print the essay beforehand for reference during testing. For each question answered incorrectly, you will be given one more chance at the end of the exam to answer those questions correctly.
If you ace the test — and really, you’re an idiot if you can’t — then you’re entered into a drawing with multiple winners.
What it’s worth: $2,000 for 10 high school seniors, $1,000 for five postgrads
How to apply: Details here
Deadline: April 7, 2017
20. Scholarship addicts
The Debt.com Scholarship For Aggressive Scholarship Applicants rewards hard work over lazy talent. Why? Because as Debt.com learned from interviewing college financial aid directors, students rarely apply for all the scholarships they could get. Seems to be a combination of laziness and fear of rejection. If you want to live a debt-free life, you can’t ever pass up free cash. Hence, this scholarship.
What it’s worth: $500
How to apply: Details here
Deadline: June 1, 2017
This is the perfect scholarship for anyone who hates applying for scholarships. The “No Essay” College Scholarship is sponsored by a review site called College Prowler, and much like the first scholarship on this twisted list, we assume it’s done for maximum publicity.
In this case, College Prowler boasts, “Scholarships don’t get any easier than this.” It’s actually more like a lottery — simply sign up and hopefully win a monthly drawing. If you don’t win, apply again the next month.
What it’s worth: $2,000, with a winner each month
How to apply: Create an account here, fill out the form, and play the scholarship lottery
Deadline: Last day of the month at 11 p.m. EST
Last word, final advice
Our list is far from definitive. We simply chose the weirdest scholarships with the broadest appeal. Don’t believe us?
There’s a $7,000 scholarship for bagpipe students who attend Carnegie Mellon, while 20 students whose relatives work for the National Dairy Herd Information Association get $750 each.
If you’re searching for scholarships and feel intimidated by the competition, try applying for specific ones in your field of study. Trust us, no profession is too esoteric.
We’ve discovered scholarships for those who want to be cattle workers ($1,000) and potato researchers ($10,000). Do you have “a passion for convenience and fuel retailing” ($3,000) or a “demonstrated interest” in confectionery technology ($5,000)?
These are large cash awards that likely have little competition. Search around and apply.
Then there’s one scholarship you can’t apply for. We couldn’t uncover much information about it, either.
Each year, Hiram College in Ohio awards two scholarships of unknown amount for a combination of good deeds, good grades, and community involvement. It honors Hal Reichle, a helicopter pilot killed during the Gulf War who was known best for his charity. He would randomly mow people’s lawns, paint their homes, or pay for their groceries.
To win “tuition support,” you must be nominated by the Secret Society of Serendipitous Service to Hal – or SSSSH for short.