You set up a scholarship program, and hopefully people apply. Then, comes what is hands down the most arduous and time-consuming part of the process - the application review of each and every form that has been submitted.
Get it right, and you can smoothly go about selecting your recipient or recipients with efficiency and a good degree of ease. Get it wrong, and you could spend untold amounts of time and energy only to be left with too many people you want to give the money to.
The keys to running an efficient application review process for scholarships are:
Now that you know the keys, let’s explore what this looks like in practice.
The first thing you need to ask yourself as you are putting your team together is, who is your ideal reviewer? You want to select team members that match the vision of your scholarship program. They will be most effective in choosing recipients that align with your program’s objectives and values.
For example, if the candidate works in or is a teacher for the field the scholarship is intended for, they may be a good fit. Or if they don’t work in the field, consider their characteristics and whether or not they match those you would expect of an award recipient.
If the candidate doesn’t fit these criteria or have values that are in line with your scholarship, it’s best to move onto someone else.
Next, you need to decide how many reviewers you will need. Consider how much time each application review will take. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume that a single team member can review 10 applications in an hour. With that in mind, if 1,000 applications come in, that one team member will need at least 100 hours, or roughly two and a half weeks (assuming a 40 hour work week) to review all of them.
With scholarship management software you might be able to lower the amount of time it takes to review applications, but we’ll address that in a moment.
What if you receive 10,000 applications? Or 20,000? Now, you’re talking about some serious time commitments, and you’ll need additional team members to help you move through your application review period quickly.
Hopefully, these simple numbers give you a rough estimate of how many team members you may need to prepare to bring on board. Once you decide how many people will be necessary for your team, it’s time to start recruiting.
Before you begin your outreach, you will need to decide if you’re looking for volunteers or if this will be a temporary paid assignment. In the event you will be paying your team members, it may be best to work with a work placement agency who can manage the recruitment for you. If you will be recruiting volunteers, however, there are several places you can look for help.
If you run a non-profit, and the scholarship program is part of that organization, you can work with local colleges to fill your team with individuals seeking on the job training and/or community service hours.
Then again, even if your scholarship program is part of a for-profit organization, you may be able to recruit temporary college interns for your application review season. Just make sure you abide by the rules of the colleges you are working with to ensure that interns get class credit for their time.
Non-profit and for-profit businesses can also look to the following sources for team member recruitment:
With your team in place, it’s time to get to the evaluations!
All things considered, filling the seats on your application review team is an easy job compared with picking your recipient or recipients. The good news is, you can make the task a little easier and less time-consuming with scholarship management software and a system for reviewing applicants.
The system you create may take some trial and error in the beginning, but once you get a good process in place, you can repeat it for all future scholarship programs you run.
The goal is to make it easy for evaluators to give a hard yes, or a hard no to applicants. No in-betweens because these take longer to evaluate. Then, after the reviewer has a small group of potential “yes” applicants, the evaluations must become more stringent to continue making the pool smaller until you have between one and a handful of applicants per team member.
Next, you can debate as a group who the final recipients will be from that pool.
There are so many more things you can do to make the scholarship application review process more efficient. From evaluators sharing notes, and custom reports, to easy evaluation scoring, and automatic calculations, SmarterSelect makes it easier than ever before to run a top-level scholarship program.
The assistance doesn’t stop there, however. When you work with SmarterSelect to build your scholarship program, you get access to our community forum where you can submit suggestions, and read the suggestions and ideas of program developers that have started before you. You also get access to our online help center to learn the best methods of running your scholarship program and get answers to the most common questions we’ve seen.
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.