• How to Increase Qualified Scholarship Applicants

    Promoting your scholarships far and wide is the first step to increasing applicants, but there are two more effective tactics you can employ to ensure those applicants are well qualified:

    Tactic #1: Encourage donors to make scholarship stipulations more inclusive

    Many donors feel that they should include as many requirements and qualifications as possible to find the perfect scholarship candidate. The truth is, the more requirements a student must meet, the greater the likelihood that none of your applicants will qualify. Encourage donors to reduce their requirements to the most basic level - and to share any preferred qualities above and beyond the minimum, which can help tip the balance when making award decisions. 

    Tactic #2: Make it easier for students to complete their application

    The easier the application process is for students, the more completed applications you’ll receive. An easy place to start is by reevaluating the questions you ask applicants. How many of those questions yield data that you actually use in awarding decisions? Ask your reviewers what questions and information are most important to them and consider dropping the rest. (Students and reviewers alike will appreciate shorter applications!) Also consider how many recommendation letters are really necessary. Many scholarship applications require three letters of recommendation, but 50% of students’ requests for these letters go unanswered. Would a single letter of recommendation suffice? As for application essays, help students focus by providing clear, specific prompts rather than open-ended, general questions. You can also set essay length limits, which will help students present stronger, well-edited work. 

    While these two tactics are sure to expand your pool of qualified applicants no matter how you manage your scholarships, using the AwardSpring system can help even more. Automatic matching, for example, applies students to all opportunities for which they qualify - even those the student may not have known about. To learn more about how AwardSpring can help you increase qualified applicants, contact us for a platform walkthrough.

  • Feature Spotlight: Conditional Questions

    AwardSpring’s customizable application allows you to structure your questions however you like, including using conditional questions. We highly recommend incorporating conditional questions to collect applicants’ background information and make your application simpler and easier to use; in fact, your implementation expert will likely use them when initially configuring your site.

    Conditional questions use “if/then” logic to personalize the questions you ask students based on their answers to previous questions. That way, you can ensure that students only answer questions that are relevant to them.

    Here are some examples of common conditional questions:

    - Asking a student to choose his state from a list that appears only when he selects “United States” as his country of residence.

    - A multiple-choice “Which branch of the military have you served in?” question that appears only if a student answers “Yes” to a question about prior military service.

    - An essay question that pops up for a student to write about her volunteer work once she indicates that she has extensive volunteer experience to share.

    Conditional questions are most useful for collecting background information in an efficient, customized manner, because you can nest conditional questions to dive deeper and deeper into a specific topic without making your basic application any longer. Using conditional questions will give students a better, simpler application experience - which can increase your total applicants.

    If you need help implementing conditional questions, contact us at support@awardspring.com.

  • Optimizing Your Scholarship Application

    Is your scholarship application as easy to fill out as it could be? When was the last time you reviewed it in detail? We recommend revisiting your application every year to simplify, streamline, and clarify your application questions as much as possible. Increase applications and improve your review process with our application optimization tips and tricks!

    Debrief with your reviewers.

    Ask your review committee for feedback about last year’s application. What information was most crucial? What information did they not use at all? And what questions were missing that would have helped them make decisions faster? Your reviewers’ responses will help you make changes to your application that will improve the reviewing experience.

    Imitate successful applications.

    Here at AwardSpring, we’ve noticed a few trends among applications that have a high percentage of completion. These applications typically have:

    - Fewer than five sections 

    - No more than three essays  

    - Only one transcript requirement - the most recent one  

    - Only one required letter of recommendation  Very specific essay prompts (rather than a generic “Why should you receive this scholarship?”)

    In general, the most successful applications have limited requirements, specific requests, and user-friendly formats that provide students with flexibility in their answers. Adjust your own application to meet these standards and you’ll gain more applicants, more efficient review processes, and a better experience for all.

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