Peterson’s Database/Cappex Site Review

cappex-logoPeterson’s Award Database/Cappex Search Engine

http://www.petersons.com or http://www.cappex.com

Peterson’s offers information for Undergraduates, Graduate school, continuing education, and international students. They provide information about various colleges and graduate schools, test preparations, completing the FAFSA, and finding financial aid. Note: Peterson’s is owned by Nelnet, a company that currently manages student loans.

Since they use Cappex for their scholarship search engine, we recommend that you avoid the advertising offers and go directly to Cappex.com to conduct your search.

At the Cappex website, you will need to create a Profile or sign up with Facebook. We suggest you complete a Profile and leave your social media accounts separate from your scholarship research efforts. So, go ahead and click on the START NOW button. You’ll be asked for your name, email address, and to set up a password. Once done, you’ll be moved through a series of pages asking you questions to tailor scholarship matches to your specific Profile. The first page, “The Basics,” requests your contact information and parent’s email address. You only need to complete those items with a red asterisk (*)—your name, mailing address, birth date, and high school graduation date. We suggest that you not give out your phone number or your parent’s email address unless you want to have telemarketers call and email. Listing your gender, ethnic background, citizenship, and intended major will increase the number of matching scholarships, so be sure to complete these fields. It’s up to you to answer the rest of the questions. We’re not sure what value there is in Cappex collecting data on whether you were home schooled, what high school you attend(ed), or who your guidance counselor is. If you answer “yes” to the last 3 questions, be prepared to get unsolicited email from a variety of third-party affiliates. Click the SAVE & CONTINUE button.

The next part of developing your Profile asks about your “Preferences.” Again, only those items with a red asterisk are required for your Profile and, on this page at least, no information is required. Instead, you’re asked about what colleges you’re considering, your expected start date, and other college-specific preferences. Essentially, this is where Cappex will match you with colleges and you can expect to receive emails. This can be helpful if you’re exploring colleges. Otherwise, you don’t need to complete this information and can skip down to the bottom of the page and click the SAVE & CONTINUE button.

The third section asks about your “High School Academics.” Complete this page thoroughly. Give them your GPA, academic honors, SAT/ACT/PSAT scores, class rank, and Honors/AP classes. This level of detailed information will help you because each item has the potential to match you with more qualifying scholarships. The last item is a question asking you to take surveys. Stay focused on your scholarship research efforts and select “No Thanks.” Click the SAVE & CONTINUE button.

The fourth section (which is optional), asks you about your “Activities.” Again, you can skip this page or your can complete those sections you wish. Providing this information will generate “keywords” specific to you and help match you with more scholarships. Click SAVE & CONTINUE.

The fifth section, “More About You,” is also optional and can be skipped. It seeks information about your religion, your parents’ education, your family income, and the level of importance you place on financial aid (loans, grants, and scholarships). If your parents did not complete a college degree, you are considered a “first-generation college student.” This opens you up for additional scholarships and college support programs, like TRIO. So, be sure to answer the question “What level of education have your parents attained?” Fill out the information you choose to, then click SAVE & CONTINUE.

The sixth section, “College Academics” pertains only to students who are currently enrolled in college. Again, this is an optional page and can be skipped entirely. Click SAVE & CONTINUE.

The title of the new page says it all, “Now for the good stuff…” Unless you’re interested in obtaining information about specific schools, click the GO TO MY HOME button. Now locate and select the “My Scholarships” link (next to the money bag). Avoid the “Easy to Apply Scholarships” unless you want to spend your free time taking online surveys or entering “contests.” Instead, scroll down the page to see your scholarship matches. Each scholarship will have a link to detailed information and list the award amount, deadline, level of effort, competition, and a drop-down status menu where you can select the status you would give the scholarship. Always look for the link to the sponsoring organization’s website. This is where you will apply and learn more about the scholarship and eligibility requirements.

Did you notice the four tabs running along the top of your matching scholarship list? We strongly suggest you stay with the “My Scholarship Matches” and avoid “Cappex Scholarships,” “Merit Scholarships,” and “Jobs & Internships.” We feel the first list is the best use of your valuable time.

Once you’ve explored your matching scholarships, you can click on the UNLOCK EVEN MORE SCHOLARSHIPS button. You will be asked additional questions based on your Profile information. You might wonder why the search engine wants to know if you or any member of your family works for a certain company. Companies offer scholarships for their employees and, if your family is associated, you may qualify for a scholarship. We suggest you complete each section thoroughly as it will increase the number of matching scholarships returned.

Overall, we found this site provided fewer scholarships than other search engines that required similarly detailed Profiles.

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