38 contestants will compete at RiverCenter Wednesday through Saturday

It takes a lot of practice to win that tiara. Official rehearsals for the 2008 Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition began this week, but many of the pageant contestants have been practicing their interview skills and honing their talents on their own for months.

"I've been working out, working on my voice, getting in media practice," Miss Columbus State University Jamie Harper said Sunday.

The 38 contestants got a break from their rehearsal schedule that afternoon to go to Peach Bowl Lanes for Xtreme bowling. Harper, a sophomore at the university, said some people think the pageant is “a bunch of fluff” but many of the contestants work hard year-round, just to be prepared for the few hours during the pageant. Miss West Georgia Jessica Scott said she has spent some time working out and practicing doing her hair and makeup for the big night.

“Sometimes I put on my high heeled shoes - my five-inchers - and trot around the house,” she said.

But she has also spent a lot of time working on her platform, the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. The association promotes therapy for people with disabilities through horseback riding.

Scott works regularly with an autistic boy and is considering a career in equine therapy.

Miss Southern Rivers Ashley Gholamhosseini said the women she has met through the competition have been intelligent and confident individuals.

"I look at us, and I see scholars," she said. "I'm competing against law students, pre-med students."

Miss Troup County Meg Greer agreed.

“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Greer said. "Yes, we are lovely girls. But we're well-rounded."

Even if there is no crown for her at the end of the week, Harper said she has gained confidence from participating in pageants.

"It's helped me in school and work . . . it’s a lot like a job," she said. "I used to be very introverted. I attribute my success to it."