Scholarship search made easy with Scholly
Many college students are under the impression that once they’ve begun their undergraduate careers, the window for scholarship applications has closed. On the contrary, there are thousands of scholarship opportunities open to undergrads; it’s just a matter of finding them. But sometimes, this is the hardest part. You could spend a lot of time Googling some variance of the word “scholarship” plus your major, grade level, or other relevant experience, but how do you know you’re not missing some great opportunities that could earn you thousands of dollars to apply toward your college expenses?
Enter Scholly, an application that helps high school seniors, college undergraduates, and graduate students find scholarships that align with their personal and educational backgrounds.
The Scholly iPad app’s user interface is simple and easy to navigate. It’s identical to the iPhone app, simply scaled-up to fit the iPad screen. On the one hand, this means that the print is large and easy to read; on the other, the screen will not flip to match the orientation of your iPad if you hold it horizontally. This poses a minor inconvenience for people like me, who usually have their iPads snapped horizontally into cases fitted with keyboards.
The fixed orientation was a minor nuisance, but one worth mentioning all the same, given how frequently I navigated away from Scholly while using the app. As I scrolled through Scholly’s list of scholarships, I often visited the sponsor organization’s website in Safari to explore their other opportunities and set up an account—which required the use of a keyboard. Alternating between Scholly and Safari consequently involved a lot of turning my iPad back and forth.
The first thing that pops up when you open the scholarship search is a list of filters (shown to the right) that help you find scholarship opportunities you are qualified for, given your demographics and educational background. (Unless you’re an English major, apparently, in which case your major does not exist, as far as Scholly is concerned. This seems like a rather gaping and obvious omission, given that kinesiology made the list.)
The list of parameters is not as extensive as those found on scholarship search engines such as CollegeBoard.com (includes demographic options such as religious affiliation) or Collegenet.com (provides the opportunity to enter more extensive educational background information, such as awards/honor society memberships). Many attributes that would only apply to small pockets of Scholly users, such as 200 community service hours, LGBT identification, and dependence on a veteran, are lumped together under the “miscellaneous” category. However, Scholly does allow you to quickly and easily enter your general information without having to create an account or extensive user profile—and Scholly will save your last entries even after you quit the app.
Some of the parameters allow for the selection of multiple answers (ie., it is possible to choose more than one ethnicity, or more than one major), while some require a single answer (ie., GPA). One hang-up I did have about the filtering process was that you must fill out each category in order for Scholly to screen its opportunities and pull up your results. This may prove problematic for students who would prefer not to identify as either “male” or “female,” since the gender parameter only permits you to choose one of these two options. The binary gender filter can be helpful for many users in weeding out scholarships that are only available for male or female students; however, one of my suggestions for improvement would be that Scholly allow its users to choose which parameters they use to filter scholarship opportunities, or provide a “prefer not to respond” option.
After you have entered all of your information, you can scroll through the list of matching scholarship opportunities. The program information in Scholly’s database is updated on a monthly basis, with deadlines updated as soon as the sponsoring organization makes that information available, and scholarship opportunities that no longer exist are removed from the database.
You can sort through these results by the amount of money awarded, application deadline, or program name. So regardless of whether you’re someone who’s just browsing around, curious about how sizeable a chunk of change you can be awarded for an undergraduate scholarship (spoiler alert: upwards of $100,000!), or someone who’s been procrastinating on applications and needs to know right now what program deadlines haven’t passed yet, Scholly is a great search device. Selecting “save” adds a particular opportunity to a personalized list of scholarships for quick review, which you can see by tapping on the tab at the bottom of the screen. This list can be exported.
Tapping on a scholarship of interest brings up a page with more detailed information about the program, including a brief description (some more informative than others) and a link to the scholarship website for more information and application details.
I was impressed with the sheer number of scholarship programs Scholly pulled up in my search, but I do wish Scholly showed the exact number. You can get a general idea of how many opportunities you’re looking at as you scroll through, but it would be nice to actually know how many search results you obtained, so you can adjust your parameter answers to cast a wider or narrower net accordingly. I also wish that there were a search bar on the results page; after failing to save one scholarship program that I was interested in, I had to scroll through an indeterminable number of results to find it again.
I think my favorite part of exploring this application was getting to scroll through the scholarships. Did you know that you can earn $3,000 toward your education for writing a poem about growing up with glasses? Or that an essay for Student Saver about your most unexpected college expense can decrease your college expenses by $1,000? My personal favorite scholarship comes from ScholarshipExperts.com, which requests students write about what kind of superhero or super villain they would like to be and why. That’s $2,500 towards educating yourself for world domination–or, you know, saving the world, depending on how you approach the essay.
Despite the fact that Scholly’s search filters are somewhat limited, and it leaves a couple of features to be desired, this app is a quick and easy way to flip through scholarship opportunities you might not otherwise find. I would definitely recommend Scholly for my fellow students, both those who are looking for scholarships for their undergraduate careers, and for seniors who are looking to finance their graduate school endeavors.