Hack the Scholarship Game

Scholarships Can Make Higher Education Attainable

Listen very closely, Cappexians: Scholarships can make higher education attainable. I want you to repeat that a couple dozen times to yourself while you scroll through your scholarship matches, while you Google options, while you do literally everything you can to compile a list of scholarships to apply for.

And then we’re going to tell you how to hack the scholarship system, starting with the one right here on the Cappex site.

Scholarships can be geared towards any type of students, by any number of parameters.

If you’re ever wondering, “why in the world do they need to know this?” while filling out information on your Cappex profile or while applying to a scholarship, this weird collection of parameters is 100% why. Scholarships can be geared towards broad, understandable groups of people, such as everyone living in Illinois or the New York metropolitan area. Those two things make sense. It’s also somewhat easy to understand why scholarships would be restricted to certain counties or to specific high schools. The fact of the matter is that donors can be anyone, any company, and anywhere. They can be a single person or an entire corporation.

Scholarship funds can also be designated to students going into a specific major, like nursing or graphic design. They can be designed to help a specific type of person, such as the LGBTQIA community or students who practice Judaism. You’ll also find that there are entire scholarships dedicated to assisting minorities.

Basically, what I’m saying is that those weird bits of information collected that seem like TMI or incredibly random, actually serve an altruistic purpose: finding you money. Fill out your Cappex profiles completely, honestly, and to the best of your ability. It will help us match you to an amazing array of scholarships that can cut down on your postsecondary education costs!

Read the Directions
No, it’s not fun, I know. But read the directions. Honestly. Send the email with the appropriate subject line and make sure you follow the word counts for the essays. This is legitimately one of the most surefire ways to confidently toss your hat into the ring. Read the history of the scholarship, understand what it’s for, and adjust your application (truthfully) to highlight that aspect of your life. If the scholarship is meant to reward a student who serves their community, make sure that your community service is front and center on your application packet. If it’s about academics, highlight your educational achievements.\

Official vs. Unofficial Transcripts
Many scholarships require a transcript to verify your GPA. What is a transcript? It’s a complete record of all of your academic achievements. It lists every class you’ve taken, the grades you got, and when. Pay attention to whether the scholarship requires an official or unofficial transcript — while they’re very similar, there are key differences. Official transcripts typically come in sealed envelopes or are directly sent by your school office to its intended location. Bring your ID or have your student number ready. In some cases, you can even request an official transcript online, which makes it super simple to do. You can ask your counselor or check out your high school website for that option! Scholarships may also ask for a resume, so check out what to include and how to keep it updated here!

Letters of Recommendation
If there’s ever an I-told-you moment that we have here at Cappex, it has to do with letters of recommendation. We’re always telling students to develop relationships with their teachers, with their extracurricular leaders, with bosses, and this, right here, is why. Quick tips for asking for recommendations: give the person you’re asking for as much time as possible to fulfill the request. A month is a fairly typical length of time to give your recommender, so be fully upfront about the due date of your scholarship (or college) application. Lastly, be sure to ask this question: are you able to give me a good recommendation? If the answer is yes, you’re solid!

Let’s end this scholarship hack by totally annihilating some of the myths surrounding requirements:

  • No, you do not need a high GPA to get a scholarship.
  • No, not every scholarship requires an essay.
  • Scholarship money is typically directly sent to the college, but it can also be dispersed to you to use as you see fit towards your education — listings typically say which route they use.

Also, did you know, that if you earn more money in scholarships than your tuition is worth, the money is still yours to keep?

Just food for thought.

Scholarships Expiring January 2018

Haven’t gotten around to applying for scholarships yet? That’s alright for a number of reasons — the general idea of scholarships doesn’t have a deadline. You can start applying for them just about whenever you feel like it, however, we do recommend starting sooner rather than later. You’ll find new scholarships to apply for every single month of the year, and, for every single one of those 12 months, you can count on us here at Cappex to keep you up-to-date on all of the latest and greatest ways to save money on college tuition!

Abbvie Immunology Scholarship
Award:  $15,000
Deadline: 1/9/18
Description: Living with an inflammatory disease is difficult to begin with, and Abbvie wants to take some extra stress off of your shoulders with their scholarship specifically designed to help you. Whether you’re trying to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree or a vocational trade, you can apply for this scholarship!

Robert L. Harbison Family Scholarship
Award: $500
Due Date:  1/12/18
Description: Are you a high school senior at Greencastle High School? Then you’re a prime candidate for this scholarship!

Fillmore High School Alumni Association Scholarship
Award: $500
Deadline: 1/12/18
Description: If you’re a South Putnam High School graduating senior, this scholarship is right up your alley. Apply to earn this $500 towards your college tuition!

Young Filmmakers Contest
Award: $1,000
Deadline: 1/14/18, by Midnight
Description:  Films submitted to earn the max $1000 prize must be between 3 and 8 minutes long. Film topic options include: water, waste, food, transportation, energy, or open space and ecosystem! Check the website for other perks of winning this scholarship.

Ron Brown Scholar Program
Award: $10,000
Deadline: 1/9/18
Description: African-American high school seniors who excel academically are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. This program is seeking students who will make significant contributions to society, so bring your A game!

The Magi Foundation Film Festival
Award: $1,500
Deadline: 1/15/18
Description: PSAs need a revamp, and The Magi Foundation Film Festival wants to see you do it! Create a public service announcement centered around the idea of “Finding Common Ground.” The film should be between three and eight minutes!

Dell Scholars Program
Award: $20,000
Deadline: 1/15/18
Description: Are you ready for college? Has this been your dream? Then the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation would love to award you $20,000 towards your tuition! See if you qualify, and check out all of the juicy details, on the website!

Telios Law Sojourner Scholarship
Award: $1,000
Deadline: 1/15/18
Description: This scholarship has some specific requirements, so read them carefully. You must have spent three or more years as a third-culture missionary kid and be enrolled full-time as a freshman or sophomore student at a school that boasts an emphasis on spiritual formation in the Christian faith.

Hamilton Award
Award: $500
Deadline: 1/16/18
Description: The Alexander Hamilton Friends Association wants to help tuition costs with a $500 scholarship towards an individual with a commitment to education, strong community service history, and a need for financial assistance. Check the website for further details!

The Diversity Advancement Scholarship
Award: $4,000
Deadline: 1/17/18
Description: If you’re enrolled in an NAAB-accredited architecture school and are a minority student, you’ll want to take a close look into this scholarship. Not only does it offer a hefty amount for a single scholarship, it can also be renewed for up to five years!

iCanvas Art Scholarship Sweepstakes
Award: $1,000
Deadline: 1/18/18
Description: Submit a photo of your visual art to earn this scholarship. Eligible applicants are under the age of 25 and are enrolled (or are planning to enroll) in an accredited institution!

Norma A. Cull Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: 1/19/18
Description: This scholarship awards up to $2,000 dollars just for being a student at Madison Consolidated High School looking to further their education in journalism! If you qualify, go apply right now!

Marcia S. Morrill Scholarship
Award: $1,700
Deadline: 1/19/18
Description: If you’re a graduating senior at Southwestern High School, Shawe Memorial High School, or Madison Consolidated High School, you can apply for this scholarship to help with your college tuition!


How to Handle Your First College Winter

Unless you’re going to college in California, Florida or another sunny locale, it’s possible your first college winter will be harsher than any you’ve lived through before. Here are some tips on how to survive your first college winter.

Layer Up

Layering clothes is the best option when facing chilling temperatures. Invest in long underwear, wool socks, sweaters, scarves, ear muffs and winter hats to stay warm. Select several lighter layers instead of a couple heavy ones. Weighing yourself down too much will exhaust you by the end of the day. But, donning too few layers will allow the wind to cut right through the fabric.

Additionally, purchasing a large down jacket and nice boots can be worthwhile if you’re attending college somewhere particularly chilly. These will last until well after you graduate and make a huge difference in protecting you from the cold, wind and snow.

Stock Up on Essentials

The combination of biting winds, little sunshine and sub-zero thermometer readings can keep students from leaving their dorms for longer than ever. Save yourself a frigid grocery run or two by stockpiling essential items that’ll last throughout the season. Toiletries, snacks and school supplies are just a few of the things you should get before winter rolls in.

Learn about Helpful Resources

Most campuses have several services that can prove highly beneficial in the winter. College rideshare and shuttle systems can keep you from walking 15 to 20 minutes in the cold. Don’t hesitate to contact a maintenance worker if your heating isn’t working as well as it should. Free hot chocolate and other warm treats are a staple of winter finals weeks. Familiarize yourself with the on-campus health clinic in case you fall ill; contagious viruses like the flu spread quickly throughout college campuses.

Check in with Yourself

Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, is a real problem, especially for those experiencing their first rough winter. Whether it’s meditation, extra TV binging, a daylight lamp or extra sleep, be sure to take care of your mental health during the colder months of the year. These breaks are healthy and help you keep everything together for the long run.


How to Narrow Your List of Colleges

Rather than applying to dozens of colleges, choose 12 at most. Here are some things to keep in mind when narrowing your list of colleges:

Acceptance Rate

If you’ve had your heart set on a college for years, you should give it your best shot, even if it seems like a stretch. College acceptance is a game of chance, and you’ll likely receive at least one acceptance or rejection that’s a complete surprise. To prepare for the worst, choose two or three safety colleges. If you’re not sure which colleges qualify are good safety choices, rankings and statistics should give you an idea. Be sure to check their Cappex profile to get all the info you need.

Tuition and Financial Aid

With tuition prices rising, the cost of education likely will be a factor in deciding where you should apply. Make sure every college on your list isn’t an expensive private college. Although many private universities offer generous scholarships and financial aid, these are rarely a guarantee. Add public, in-state colleges to your list, as tuition is likely to be lower. It’s important to vary the cost of colleges on your list.

Campus Preferences

Every college has something unique to offer, and whether or not you feel comfortable on campus will make or break your four years. If you’re applying to a college solely because of its reputation or convenience, consider removing it from your list. Instead, focus on collges where you can see yourself thriving academically and socially.

Doing research, talking to current students and visiting campuses will help you determine which colleges meet your expectations.


Benefits of Attending a Small College

Small colleges and universities — institutions with 1,000 students or less — offer students a more intimate college experience than large universities. Classes are small and less likely to be held in large lecture halls. In fact, students are more likely to develop relationships with their professors and connect with other students on campus.

Professors at small colleges like Antioch College, which has a 6-to-1 student-faculty ratio, are able to devote themselves to teaching because they are not pressed to meet research requirements like academics at large, liberal arts universities. Classes also are more likely to be taught by a professor instead of graduate students because most small colleges do not offer advanced degrees.

Students have the opportunity to participate in class and ask questions, an added benefit of attending a small college. Students at small colleges also receive superior academic advising because advisers are not bogged down while tending to hundreds of students.

Because students aren’t adrift in a sea of thousands of other pupils, campus life tends to be close knit at small colleges. Other students and faculty are likely to know your name. It’s also easier to nap a recommendation for an internship or a job.

Lastly, but not least, small universities also offer a greater chance of receiving a more comprehensive financial aid package. There are fewer people competing for the same pot of money.

Here’s a list of popular colleges with 1,000 or fewer students:

Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, KY)
Antioch College (Yellow Springs, OH)
Beacon College (Leesburg, FL)
Bethany College (Bethany, WV)
Bethany College (Lindsborg, KS)
Centenary College of Louisiana (Shreveport, LA)
Cleveland Institute of Art (Cleveland, OH)
Cleveland Institute of Music (Cleveland, OH)
Columbia College Hollywood (Los Angeles, CA)
Cox College (Springfield, MO)
Cottey College (Nevada, MO)
Criswell College (Dallas, TX)
Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)
Eureka College (Eureka, IL)
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA)
Goddard College (Plainfield, VT)
Goshen College (Goshen, IN)
Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA)
Holy Cross College (Notre Dame, IN)
Illinois College (Jacksonville, IL)
John Paul the Great Catholic University (Escondido, CA)
MacMurray College (Jacksonville, IL)
Marlboro College (Marlboro, VT)
Mitchell College (New London, CT)
Nazarene Bible College (Colorado Springs, CO)
Nebraska Christian College (Papillion, NE)
Northland College (Ashland, WI)
O’More College of Design (Franklin, TN)
Principia College (Elsah, IL)
Ripon College (Ripon, WI)
Rocky Mountain College (Billings, MT)
San Francisco Art Institute (San Francisco, CA)
Shimer College (Chicago, IL)
Sweet Briar College (Sweet Briar, VA)
The Juilliard School (New York, NY)
Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (Merrimack, NH)
Tougaloo College (Tougaloo, MS)
Union College (Lincoln, NE)
University of the Ozarks (Clarksville, AR)
University of Providence (Great Falls, MT)
University of Valley Forge (Phoenixville, PA)
Villa Maria College (Buffalo, NY)
Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN)
Webb Institute (Glen Cove, NY)
Webber International University (Babson Park, FL)
Welch College (Nashville, TN)
Wesleyan College (Macon, GA)
William Peace University (Raleigh, NC)

ORIGINAL SOURCE: https://www.cappex.com/hq/articles-and-advice/college-search/setting/Benefits-of-Attending-a-Small-College

College Advice: How I Read An Application

At this time of year, college admissions officers like me are bleary-eyed from weeks of reading applications. Many of us are now in committee sessions, determining which applicants will receive offers of admission.  At the very few super-selective, single-digit-percentage-acceptance places, the process is Darwinian.

Admissions officers at the vast majority of places, however, those of us that accept more than half of our applicants, are spending more time trying to strengthen relationships with students who have been or will be admitted, in order to get them to accept our offers and enroll.  These efforts to yield the best possible class are the main business of most offices in March, and they are the absolute business of all offices in April, before deposits are due May 1.

As I move into the stretch run of my second season on the university admissions side (after decades on the secondary school counseling side), I want to share how I read an application.  This protocol is my own; others read differently.  I offer my thoughts particularly for Juniors who will be preparing to apply over the next six to nine months—though they may also be of value to Seniors who are presently waiting to learn their fates.

I always start with the School Profile and Transcript:

  • First question: What percentage of graduates go on to four-year colleges or universities? The higher the percentage of college goers, the more likely the curriculum is strong and challenging.  The farther south of that percentage, the greater my concern about the “speed of the pool” and the quality of preparation for college work.
  • Second question: From the Profile I also learn what is on the school’s Curricular Menu: International Baccalaureate? Advanced Placement?  Honors?  Dual Enrollment?  I want to know what challenges the applicant had available; then evaluate what the candidate “ordered from the menu.”
  • Next, did the student “clean his or her plate?” There’s no point in ordering more food than you can eat, and no point in more academic challenge than you can handle.
  • When required (at Drew University only for our top merit scholarship), I look at standardized testing, to see if it corroborates, or leads me to question, classroom performance. (Those who underachieve their testing do not impress me.)
  • If the student does not attend a school that prepares students well for college, fails to challenge him or herself, fails to meet the challenge selected, and/or underperforms ability, our consideration of this candidacy is probably over. You have to be able to succeed in the academic program, or you need to look elsewhere.  If you have done enough to demonstrate that threshold academic capacity, you get a closer look.

I read the Recommendations next:

  • I like to get a sense of what the Counselor and Teachers have to say about the student. I read for key descriptive words and phrases, also for anecdotes that show the student in action.  Curiosity, energy, humor, tenacity, grit, resilience, and the qualities of someone I would like to invite into our 24/7 residential community are what I seek.
  • If I find evidence of immaturity, insensitivity, laziness, or a lack of personal responsibility/accountability, the applicant may be done—or at least have sustained mortal injury—before I get to the Application itself.
  • I emphasize this point in particular, because many school counselors urge Juniors to make their “asks” before the end of 11th grade, enabling over-burdened teachers to do some, most, or all of their recommendation writing over the summer.
  • Juniors are well-advised to be careful about whom to ask for a letter of support. Ideally it is someone who is excited about the prospect of doing additional work for no additional pay for a student who may or may not remember to say Thank You once admitted to the college of his or her choice.

Finally, if I like what I’ve seen on the Profile and Transcript, and what I’ve read in the Recommendations, I spend time on the Application itself:

  • I note citizenship, ethnicity, family system, educational background of the parents. Then I reach the resume of Activities.  Having demonstrated via Transcript and Recs that the student can be successful in our program and is a quality human being, I now read for what he or she will add to campus life.
  • I look for length of commitment and significance of impact. Grades 9, 10, 11, 12 says a lot to me about duration of commitment as it might benefit my college.  Those who dabble, with a bit here and a bit there, do not impress me.
  • After Activities, it’s time for the Essay. I have read many fabulous ones this year, some predictable ones, and a few poor efforts.  The last are quite sad: short, with little insight, and sometimes with glaring flaws in spelling, punctuation and capitalization.  If I have gotten this far in your application, don’t disappoint me with avoidable errors.
  • My advice on essays: Be yourself, sound like a teenager, and tell me the story you’d share if we were in an Uber together for a brief ride across my home island of Manhattan. You want me leaving the car wanting to stay in touch with you; I want your voice in my ear as I make my recommendation to our committee.

A final note: if you’d like to see a two-minute video of my advice to Juniors and their parents at a wonderful independent school in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, check this YouTube link:

Conducting a Thoughtful Search: https://youtu.be/-ytJjbuQcvo

How to Pick Safety Schools

You should aim for your dream colleges in the college application process, but you can’t be certain of anything. It’s important to apply to at least one college where you’re guaranteed acceptance. These colleges are known as safety schools and provide students with a backup plan in case they aren’t accepted at more competitive colleges.


Here’s how to choose a safety school:

Defining Safety Schools

A safety school is any college or university at which you have an 80 percent chance or higher of being accepted. Although you can never be sure whether a college will admit you, compare your SAT or ACT scores and GPA to a college’s average. You should be in the 75th percentile or above for a college to be considered a safe bet.


Determining Your Options

Your safety schools should be colleges you could see yourself attending if you only were accepted there. For many applicants, these are public, in-state schools with higher acceptance rates and lower tuition costs. Small or lesser-known private colleges also qualify as safety schools. Often, safety schools resemble reach schools. If your dream college is a liberal arts college in the northeast, consider other colleges nearby or those with similar student body sizes.


Settling a List of Safety Schools

Once you’ve determined the profile of your ideal safety school, start making a list. Most students aim for at least one to three colleges. More than three will detract from the time you spend on other, more competitive applications. Consult college rankings and make a note of tuition prices — you don’t want to end up admitted to colleges that are out of your budget. Finally, be sure you actually like each college.


Applying to Safety Schools

Fill out applications with as much effort as you’d spend on any other college. Admissions officers can tell when a student doesn’t care about being accepted. Do your best work.


ORIGINAL SOURCE: https://www.cappex.com/hq/articles-and-advice/college-search/tips/How-to-Pick-Safety-Schools

Pros and Cons of Rural, Suburban and Urban Campuses

For many students, location is an important factor when choosing a college or university. Depending on your personality and goals, you may be more inclined toward a rural, urban or suburban campus.

Here are some of the pros and cons for each category:

Rural Colleges


Rural colleges might be surrounded by rolling mountains, lush forests or grassy pastures. Because these colleges typically have natural settings, they often attract outdoorsy students, including those interested in studying the environment. Some colleges to consider include Middlebury College, Bucknell University or Sewanee: The University of the South. Rural colleges sometimes offer more extensive environmental studies programs and hands-on research opportunities. Many rural colleges are smaller and encourage students to live on campus longer, fostering a close-knit student body.


Though a smaller student body might be perfect for some, many students might yearn for a wider range of diversity, both in their peers and in activities on and off campus. Rural colleges often are situated near small towns, which means opportunities for internships and community engagement are limited. Transportation also is something to consider, as you’ll likely need a car to get to campus.

Urban Colleges


Urban colleges are exciting options for students looking to assert their independence fresh out of high school. Colleges like New York University, University of California, Los Angeles and American University are situated right in the heart of major cities — New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., respectively. Students can frequent museums, art exhibits, restaurants and performances in their free time. Urban colleges usually have larger student bodies, too, with a lot of diversity. Students also can take advantage of countless opportunities, including internships, volunteering and community engagement.


The largest consideration for students considering urban college has to be money. Many are expensive.

Even responsible students will be tempted by endless things to see and do. As a result, living in a city as a student can be more difficult, especially for those who plan on working part-time to pay their tuition and housing. Urban colleges tend to lack a cohesive sense of community because their campuses are spread out and fewer students will live in dorms.

Suburban Colleges


Suburban colleges often are situated near medium-sized cities or in college towns, with locals living right alongside students. Suburban colleges tend to have more centralized campuses accessible easily by foot, though access to the surrounding area might still be restricted to those with cars.

Students at suburban colleges get the best of both worlds: they can pursue their interests both on campus and in the community at large. For entertainment and recreation, students can just as easily go to a concert or art gallery as they can drive to the mountains to go on a hike. Student bodies vary in size, offering greater diversity or a close-knit class, depending on your preference.


Like rural colleges, suburban colleges often encourage their students to own a car or have access to one, which can be expensive. College towns and smaller cities all have exciting things to offer, but that might not be enough for some students.

Before making a final decision, it’s important to visit the colleges you’re considering to see how you like them.

ORIGINAL SOURCE: https://www.cappex.com/hq/articles-and-advice/college-search/setting/Pros-and-Cons-of-Rural-Suburban-and-Urban-Campuses

How to Help Teens Manage the End of the School Year

The school year is coming to a close so that means huge final assignments and lots of fun events for teens. From the ACT and SAT exams to course finals, students are loaded with stressful work. Although they are in the midst of these scholarly activities, there is still prom and other celebratory events for them to unwind at. However, managing all these things can be a challenge. Parents and teachers should pass them the following tips – and keep a few for themselves – to ensure students do well academically and make memories in the process.

1) Plan ahead
Do not procrastinate. Fill out your applications ahead of time, work on your assignments as soon as you get them, and just get things done as soon as you can. You don’t want to be writing final papers when you should be getting ready for prom or at an end of the year party with your friends.

2) Let teachers know what is going on
A lot of teachers will offer flexibility in the right cases. If you ask politely and explain your load, some teachers may be understanding and give you extensions. But while parents and teachers should be understanding, they shouldn’t enable or let teens take advantage. Students need to learn how to schedule and plan.

3) Don’t feel bad for saying no to events
It may be hard for teens to skip out on events that all their friends are going to, but it is important for them to choose whether some are worth going to or just staying for an hour. Students aren’t going to benefit from over-committing themselves or procrastinating in college, so creating good habits now is important.

4) Don’t forget to have fun
Teens shouldn’t get so caught up in getting things done that they lose focus on the here and now, like making memories and enjoying time with their friends. While students shouldn’t burn the candle at both ends, they luckily have a couple of months to recover. Just enjoy your time and finish strong. Do the best that you can so that you know that you’re proud of yourself.