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.