By tamara In a few short days, total strangers will be shoving and clawing their way through retailers looking for the best Black Friday deals this year. Sure, Target and Walmart have some awesome deals, like an Xbox bundle for $99 or an LED television for $78, but am I willing to give up time with my family to ensure I snag one of these coveted gifts? I can think of a much better way to spend my evening – like searching for scholarships! Think about it, not only can you do it in the comfort of your own home; you can get your family to help you out, too. Okay, who am I kidding? Grandpa will be snoring in his recliner, dad will hog the couch, and mom will be looking for recruits to help wash the dishes. So, use scholarships as your full-proof excuse for getting out of clean-up duty! I’ve even put together a list of Black Friday programs that will disappear (along with all the great sales) after this weekend, just in case mom asks for some evidence! 1. Young Patriots Essay Contest Try throwing out this topic while passing the mash potatoes to Aunt Martha: “What is the proper role of the government in insuring people against major social risks?” It might lead to a heated debate around the holiday meal, but you could get some great ideas for your essay and win up to $5,000 in the process! Deadline: November 23, 2012. 2. Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship Contest Thanksgiving is totally for the birds, or ducks in this case! If you have the weird talent of calling ducks and can make it to Stuttgart, Arkansas this weekend, you could win up to $2,000 for college. A total of four scholarships, ranging in value between $500 and $2,000, will be awarded. Deadline: November 25, 2012. 3. FIRE’s Freedom in Academia Essay Contest There’s no doubt my family believes in freedom of speech – they never stop talking! If you can find a moment of peace in your house this weekend, submit an essay (800-1000 words) on the following topic, ‘Why is free speech important at our nation’s colleges and universities?’ You could win one of eight scholarships valued between $500 and $10,000. Deadline: November 25, 2012. 4. Zinch.com Weekly Scholarship Okay, so this one won’t disappear after the weekend, but the clever holiday question will! Just set aside a few minutes to check out this week’s fun prompt (it changes Monday afternoon), craft a short response (about three sentences) and you are entered to win $1,000. If only cleaning up the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner was this simple! If you need to add another scholarship to your list, don’t forget to check out the ‘A GPA Isn’t Everything’ scholarship program too. Happy Thanksgiving!