We Took CollegeXpress for a Test Drive
CollegeXpress is run by Carnegie Communications, an educational publisher that also operates other websites: PrivateColleges.com, CareersandColleges.com, ACUInfo.com, SummerProgramSearch.com, and PrivateSchoolSearch.com. Carnegie Communications also owns Wintergreen Orchard House, which is a “major database compiler, provider, and publisher, specializing in the Private K-12, two- and four-year college, summer program, and scholarship fields.” Wintergreen Orchard House database services other scholarship search engines such as Adventures in Education, My First Degree, and others. As a result, you may experience some crossover in scholarship listings between these sites.
The CollegeXpress website features a college search, a scholarship search, lists and rankings of colleges (with an eye-opening array of college categories), a summer programs search, and articles about your potential educational interests. To access these features, you will need to create a Student Profile.
Note: At the bottom of the page under Tools are links to the above features, including the scholarship search. This may seem like a work-around to access scholarship information via a keyword search without creating a profile. But once you enter your keyword and click on SEARCH NOW (we used “women” and had 361 returns), and then click on a specific scholarship listing, a window pops up stating that you need to be signed into your CollegeXpress account to view the scholarship details.
To create a profile, click on Create Your Free Profile and enter your personal information (all fields are required). Once you click on JOIN, you’ll need to enter information on three more pages: your mailing address, home phone, gender, race, high school, graduation year, GPA, test scores, preferred major and any other information you would like to include in the search. You’ll also be asked to answer “yes” or “no” to the questions about the military and attending college overseas (if you answer “yes,” you are passively agreeing to be contacted by these institutions and schools). Avoid getting email you don’t want by opting out of the advertising pages along the way.
As you can see, creating this profile takes a lot of time—for questionable results. We were presented with the details of only one scholarship that had a stated preference for those who joined their organization. You’ll have to go on to search by keyword or category to get any real results.
The keyword search feature suggests that you can search by keyword or by academic filters. Not true. The OR in the search box should read AND. The academic filters won’t return anything when used alone, but you can use them to enhance your keyword search.
Our search keyword was “women.” This brought back 361 results. Using the GPA academic filter with a 2.0 GPA gave us 261 results. We got 33 results after adding “high school senior” to the Academic Year filter. We ran the search again using “women undergraduate” and had 31 results. Clicking on individual scholarship listings will bring up a page with details of the scholarship along with options to save the scholarship to your “Stuff” or to apply online.
How to search by category isn’t obvious. You’ll need to click on Category on the top left of the Scholarship Search page next to Keyword (it may be grayed out). This will bring up a list of categories for you to choose from with the number of scholarships listed for that category in parentheses.
The Type we chose was “Scholarship” (16,579 returns), and the Category “Art.” We were presented with a list of subcategories for Art and chose “Creative Writing.” We received 21 scholarship results, 14 of which were for specific colleges. There are a lot of scholarships to look at in this section, and it may be worthwhile to search with a few different combinations of type and category to see what results you can get.
But here we have to complain. These aren’t exactly targeted results. So what is all the information sharing doing for us besides buying access to information?
CollegeXpress isn’t going to be one of our favorite sites. The registration process alone was enough to discourage us from using this site, and we disliked the constant bombardment of ads and offers that you have to navigate around. But once you’ve forked over your information and have an account, you have access to a lot scholarship listings—none of them particularly targeted to you despite the extensive profile required.
We give CollegeXpress 2.5 out of 5: