CollegeNET is a new, education-based social network where participation can lead to more tangible results than a large friends list or a lot of wall posts. Instead, the students participating online on CollegeNET can receive something a bit more rewarding: financial aid towards a college education in the form of scholarships. To receive one of the scholarships, students just have to do something they already enjoy: participate in a social network.
At CollegeNET, students are encouraged to communicate and network with each other through various online forums where they get together and discuss topics that are important to them. These topics could be serious in nature - like hot-button political or religious issues, or they can be entertaining - like discussions about high school pranks or the latest from "One Tree Hill." Reading through some of the topics currently being posted, it appears that the students are more interested in the latter. Discussions don't appear to be very intellectual in nature - just casual conversations like you might find on any forum web site. For example, one the hottest topics right now is this list of favorite children's books:
Other students on the site vote on which of these discussions are the most interesting and engaging, and, at the end of the month, those students with the most votes get scholarship money. In the month of June, CollegeNET will award $15,000 in scholarships given away to the top five candidates as awards that are either $5000, $4000, $3000, $2000, or $1000 apiece. The money for these scholarships comes from the site's advertisers and scholarship sponsors. Looking around, it appears they already have quite a few of those on board - there are ads for the University of Phoenix, trade schools, as well as other sites that might appeal to young students including dating sites and sites that focus on college planning tools or services.
To participate in CollegeNET as a candidate - that is, someone who's seeking a scholarship - you must either be currently enrolled in a college or university or planning to attend one with a year. Voters, however, can be anyone, even the general public, just so long as they sign up for a CollegeNET account.
CollegeNET's goal in setting up this network was to provide students with an alternative way to receive scholarship money by giving them a chance to diplomatically handle the award process themselves. Seems like a much easier route than writing a lot of essays!