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College Gamers Battle for Scholarships

Higher ed e-sports programs are scoring big-time. Not only have the University of California, Irvine and Ohio's Miami University recently announced the launch of new e-sports initiatives, but also a company that caters to gamers is kicking off a new college scholarship program for them.

Photo courtesy of Miami University student Stelanie Tsirlis.

Photo courtesy of Miami University student Stelanie Tsirlis.

KontrolFreek sells gear such as game-specific thumbsticks and special grips for players to pop onto their controllers. It has also launched a $20,000 scholarship program for the 2016-2017 school year. The company said the $2,000 merit-based scholarships are intended to help members of e-sports teams "continue their college education."

To be considered, applicants have to belong to a collegiate e-sports team and show that they intend to continue their college careers for another year. High school seniors who can show they've been accepted into an e-sports program are also eligible to apply. All applicants must provide information on their grade point average, extracurricular activities, awards and honors and their personal goals. Up to 10 recipients will be selected. Applications for the next academic year are being accepted through May 15, 2016.

The program is being managed by Scholarship Management Services, which handles education assistance programs for companies and foundations.

"KontrolFreek has been heavily involved in professional e-sports since we were founded seven years ago, and we knew we wanted to give gamers a leg-up as they pursued a higher education," said KontrolFreek CEO and President Ashish Mistry, in a prepared statement. "e-sports is growing quickly, and some of the best and brightest are passionately pursuing it at a college level. When we looked at the financial aid options currently available for collegiate players, we saw a need for a broader, truly merit-based academic scholarship. I am thrilled that KontrolFreek has stepped up to fulfill that need."

UC-Irvine recently shared information about its plans to build a 3,500-square-foot gaming arena for its students. Miami U announced a varsity e-sports program, which intends to participate in five games at various events starting next fall. The institution offers a digital gaming minor and will also begin delivering a course on the study of e-sports.

Collegiate e-sports activity is on the rise, reflecting the wild growth of professional tournaments. Current leagues, including the University League of Legends, TeSPA and Collegiate Star League, are gaining in popularity, drawing numerous competitors to tournaments and bracket-style competitions to play multi-player video games such as StarCraft II, League of Legends and Call of Duty.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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