Common Sense Review
Updated October 2016

Scholly

Find scholarships, preview college essays with pay-to-search tool
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • From the dashboard, users can browse essay topics and search for scholarships.
  • Students fill in their profiles on the Parameters page to generate custom scholarship lists.
  • Users can explore sample essays on a variety of essay topics.
  • The custom scholarship search costs $2.99.
  • Helpful text gives users key insights about the financial-aid application process.
Pros
Simple, straightforward interface and search features make this an accessible way to face a daunting task.
Cons
Limited export features and strange sample essays might frustrate some users, and the paywall limits scholarship search features.
Bottom Line
An approachable tool that empowers students to face the overwhelming task of financing their college educations. 
Patricia Monticello Kievlan
Common Sense Reviewer
Foundation/Non-Profit Member
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

Simple search features give instant, highly readable access to lots of scholarship resources and a series of sample essays, but this is a mostly passive, text-heavy experience.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Valuable built-in advice text adds a layer of insight students might not hear elsewhere. College essay advice and explanations would add more substance to the prompts and samples. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Some glitches in the text and limited context for how to submit the applications hurt the user experience.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Encourage students to use Scholly to start a scholarship search and determine what kinds of scholarships they qualify for. The app is a good way to empower students to take ownership of their future. Teachers might also expand on the sample essay section, encouraging kids to write essays that use these topics as starting points for longer essays that explore their own character, background, and interests. The essays are a good place to engage in discussions about plagiarism and original work. 

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What's It Like?

Scholly is a scholarship-search app for high school and college students. The app has two sections: Scholarships and Essays. In the Scholarships section, students start their search by selecting their own characteristics (home state, GPA, and intended college major) in the Parameters section. Once students have filled out their profile, they can make an in-app purchase and pay to search scholarships in earnest. The app then generates a list of scholarships users can sort, explore, and save for later use. Users can choose to export their saved scholarships as a CSV (comma-separated values) spreadsheet and email the document to an address of their choice. The scholarship list draws from a wide range of state and national scholarships that are available both to incoming and current college students, and the app's developers update the scholarship list regularly.

For students who don't want to pay for additional access, the Essays section is available for free. This section includes five essay prompts and sample essays that touch on themes of Community Service, Goals, Knowledge, Leadership, and Strongest Subject. Along with the app, students can access the web version of Scholly with the same user account. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

While Scholly isn't a stand-in for professional college advising, it has some excellent resources that can support and empower kids who might not have access to sophisticated college-counseling resources. For example, there's good information built into Scholly's interface; for example, when kids select the types of scholarships they plan to target, a pop-up states that everyone who applies for need-based financial aid should also apply for merit-based aid. This is a key point that isn't obvious to most students, and it's something some kids might never hear otherwise. In general, this app's mission is a solid one; indeed, Scholly is so compelling that its developer famously pitched the app on the television show Shark Tank and almost instantly secured funding from some of the show's investors.

It's too bad that so much of the app's content is locked behind its pay wall. One of the core insights of most scrupulous college counselors is that you shouldn't pay for access to scholarship applications, and finding a pay-to-play model in an otherwise encouraging app is a little surprising. Plus, the Essays section is a little mystifying: The sample essays aren't especially well-written, and some have a religious slant (the words "crusade of Christian service" are used) that some users might find off-putting. With a little more explanation, this section could be helpful; it seems that it's intended to show kids that a few essays on these broad themes will serve their applications for a wide variety of scholarships. Some explanatory text on that subject might be more useful than these easily copied sample essays.

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See how teachers are using Scholly