After a scholarship program manager selects and announces the recipients, you may think that means your application cycle has come to a successful close. You may even be wondering what’s next? The truth is, you’re not quite done with this round - that is if you hope to run another cycle of your scholarship program.
Of course, if you planned on running your scholarship program as a one-and-done monetary giveaway, you can skip this article completely. Then again, we’re betting that you enjoyed giving money to worthy recipients and would like to run many more cycles so you can continue helping would-be students.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to spend some time gathering feedback in regards to how this application cycle went before preparing for your next one. Doing this will help you constantly optimize your scholarship program.
Gathering feedback is critical to long-term scholarship management success. Every application cycle you go through, whether it’s every quarter or just once a year, needs to include a feedback period for the four reasons laid out below.
If you never ask, you’ll never know if your scholarship program was well-received, or if it left a lot to be desired. Perhaps it went off without a hitch as far as you know, but in truth, the applicants felt deflated by the questions. Or maybe you think it was a stressful disaster, but your evaluation team thought the complete opposite.
Feedback will give you the necessary facts needed to determine if anything should be changed with your program.
In terms of applicants, you need to know things like:
For evaluators, you need to know:
Questions like these can only be answered by the people who were in the trenches going through the process. Once you have the answers you can adjust where necessary to improve in the future.
People want to feel like their opinion matters. By giving applicants and evaluators an opportunity to share their feelings about the way a scholarship program was organized, executed, and managed, you are making it clear that you value their thoughts and opinions.
When everyone involved knows that you care, they are more likely to participate in a future application cycle. They are also more likely to speak positively about your scholarship program and hopefully spread the word about it as a result. After all, the happier everyone involved with it is, the easier it is to promote your program to the world.
The scholarship program manager often has blinders on when it comes to many aspects of their program. While they know the end goal is to choose qualified recipients, and they may bring people on board to help them achieve that goal, they might not be aware of all the ways that an application cycle can transpire from start to finish.
For example, if you’re gathering feedback, you may learn of new questions you may want to consider adding to or deleting from the application that you hadn’t previously thought of. Or you could find that there are additional criteria that your rubric needs for evaluators to move faster through the evaluation process.
Put another way, asking others for their feedback gives you the chance to learn of new ideas that might not have even been on your radar otherwise.
When you are asking for feedback, it’s a great way to build and to maintain positive relationships, particularly with your evaluation team. Cohesive relationships are built on honest and open dialogue. Evaluation team members are more likely to come back again and again when they feel the environment is one that fosters both trust and support.
Armed with the knowledge you’ve acquired in your feedback period, you can now begin preparing for the next application cycle. This may mean it’s time to update your application. It could mean you need to bring more evaluators on board.
You may also need to extend your application process period or find a way to streamline your current process. With the knowledge you received, your preparation for the next cycle should result in a smoother ride.
Would you like help to make the job of scholarship management even easier? We can help!
SmarterSelect was built with all of the moving parts of a scholarship program in mind. From cutting down on the stress of your evaluation team to keeping applicants happy and engaged, running a scholarship program is much more manageable with our software.
We’ve helped countless program administrators make quick work of their own scholarships, and we can help you too. Click here to download our in-depth scholarship management guide for program managers.