Shimer College

Dangerous Optimist’s Scholarship for Transfer Students

Good news, Dangerous Optimists!

Your deadline has just been extended.

Receive up to $48,000 in scholarship funding over two years.

The Dangerous Optimist Scholarship is a two-year, need- and merit-based scholarship for transfer students admitted to Shimer. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of exceptional ability or potential in essay writing and, for those who choose to participate, in an on-campus discussion competition.

Essays are due no later than December 3, 2015. Essays should be 1000-1500 words based on the reading and prompt below.

The Dangerous Optimist On-Campus Competition will take place December 5, 2015. An additional pool of scholarship aid has been allocated for students participating in this optional discussion-based competition.

2015 Essay for the Dangerous Optimist Competition: Adrienne Rich, “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity” 

Competition essay prompt: Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich, one of America’s foremost public intellectuals, discusses courage in this essay. What light does Rich’s essay shed on the concept of courage? What type of courage is she showing or not showing?

Submit to by December 3, 2015. Include your name and street address on your submission. Scholarship recipients for both the essay competition and discussion competition will be informed by December 11, 2015.



Who is eligible to compete in the Dangerous Optimist Competition?
All admitted transfer students wishing to enroll at Shimer in Spring 2016.

How can I get admitted to Shimer?
Start by filling our your online application. Follow the instructions for requirements to complete your application. For more information, see Guide for Transfers on this website.

Do you offer transportation aid to defray the cost of coming to campus for the discussion portion on December 5?
Yes, transportation funding is available. But it is limited, so call 312-235-3555 or email today!

I can’t make it to campus on December 5. Do I have to participate in both parts of the competition?
No, you can participate only in the written portion of the competition.

How is the Dangerous Optimist Scholarship funding allocated?
First prize (1): $24,000 per year
Second prizes (2): $15,000 per year. Eligible for Round Two.
Third prizes (3): $9,000 per year. Eligible for Round Two.
Fourth prizes (4): $6,000 per year. Eligible for Round Two.
Fifth prizes (5): $3,000 per year. Eligible for Round Two.

Any other questions? Contact us at 312-235-3555 or


  • You must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form before a scholarship can be awarded.  Note: Students who are awarded federal or state grants may have their scholarship adjusted if the combined amount of all aid exceeds the cost of tuition.
The Dangerous Optimist’s scholarship is effective for four semesters of full-time enrollment or the equivalent within a 3-year period beginning with the initial date of enrollment at Shimer College. It is automatically renewable for students who maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.00 and are in good social standing. Enrollment during summer sessions and/or on a part-time basis is permissible and will be prorated (for example, two semesters of halftime enrollment counts as the equivalent of one semester of full-time enrollment).  Leaves of absence are permitted if approved by the Dean of the College, although they do not negate the 3-year completion stipulation. The award applies only to tuition fees and does not include other fees such as books, orientation, or graduation fees. Applicants who compete in the Dangerous Optimists’ Scholarship Competition are not eligible to compete for Shimer’s Montaigne Scholarship.