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5 Ways to Handle Inaccurate Scholarship Application Responses

Better application management of scholarships, grants, awards, and more.

5 Ways to Handle Inaccurate Scholarship Application Responses

Applying for a scholarship can be quite chaotic for some, but it can also be an exciting endeavor with money for schooling as the reward. When applying, it’s easy to make mistakes that can instantly disqualify an applicant from the scholarship selection process. 

Common Scholarship Application Mistakes

  1. Ignoring the criteria for submitting an application: Good applications will include criteria such as age limits, school level, income limits, etc…
  2. Submitting essays that are too long, too short, or that completely miss the mark in terms of what the question was asking: Many applications require essays, but they need to be on topic and within a certain word count.
  3. Not submitting all required materials: This can include things like letters of recommendation, transcripts, proof of income, etc…
  4. Missing deadlines for applying/submitting materials
  5. Answering questions in the wrong format: For example, you want an annual income, but the candidate lists their monthly income.

The list goes on and on. The question is, what do you do when candidates make application mistakes? To answer this, below are five ways to handle poor application responses.

1. Use Field Validation

When you use SmarterSelect’s field validation feature, inaccurate/incorrect responses will warn the applicant they need to offer a different response to move forward. This automates the process of dealing with the mistake so program managers and their evaluation teams don’t have to sift through applications trying to figure out what people meant by their responses. Instead, everyone will use the same formats for questions.


2. Include Question Level Advice to Help Users Answer Correctly

A quick way to remove oneself from the scholarship selection pool is to answer questions incorrectly. However, one of the reasons people answer questions incorrectly is they don’t understand the prompt. Now, imagine you could whisper to the applicant exactly how to answer each question in the application. With SmarterSelect application management software this is easy to do.

3. Prevent Late Uploads and Submissions

Having an application management system that is automated will help you avoid users submitting applications and materials after the deadline. No response is needed from you. They simply won’t be able to access or submit after the deadline has passed.


4. Use Better Qualifiers

There is a good chance that your scholarship has an ideal candidate in mind to receive this award. With that in mind, you should include eligibility criteria in the beginning of your application so that people who don’t qualify won’t waste their time or yours. And, by adding better qualifiers, there is a good chance they will never even stumble onto your scholarship program in the first place. 


5. Send FAQs and Updates

If you are starting to get a lot of bad responses and/or inaccurate applications, you could send a message to all of your applicants with explanations about where things are going wrong. You can also send your database a list of frequently asked questions and the answers to them to avoid a lot of troubleshooting and customer service. While you’re at it, send updates such as when deadlines are and what is still missing for an application to be considered “complete.”


Fine-tune your questions for the next round

There is a chance that you may have to simply dismiss some applications from your scholarship selection pool, and go back to the drawing board for the next round of your program. Using SmarterSelect scholarship application software, you can use a template or make tweaks to your existing application form to keep fine-tuning it to make it better for your applicants. 

This may mean adding things like more qualifiers, additional field validation, extra question-level help, etc… The best part about using our software is that most of your program’s processes can be automated. From making the application available to messaging your pool of applicants, scoring multiple choice questions to filtering out GPAs - it’s never been easier to find eligible candidates for your scholarship program.


1. What are the most common scholarship application mistakes?

The most common scholarship application mistakes are:

  • Ignoring the criteria for submitting an application.
  • Submitting essays that miss the mark in terms of what the question was asking.
  • Not submitting all required materials.
  • Missing the deadline for applying.
  • Answering the questions in the wrong format.

2. How can I handle poor scholarship application responses?

There are five ways to handle poor scholarship application responses:

  • Use field validation.
  • Include question-level advice to help users answer correctly.
  • Prevent late uploads and submissions.
  • Use better qualifiers.
  • Send FAQs and updates.

3. When should I include the scholarship application criteria, and why?

You should include eligibility criteria in the beginning of your application so that people who don’t qualify won’t waste their time or yours. Add better qualifiers so that they don’t even stumble onto your scholarship program in the first place.

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