Reviewing: Best Practices

One of the biggest benefits of using a scholarship management application like AwardSpring is the time savings for you and your review committee. This year, invest some of that saved time into optimizing your review process following our best practices below. You’ll find that your process becomes simpler, faster, and more enjoyable for everyone involved.  

Collaborate with peers to improve your process. Network with similar or local colleges, universities, and foundations to see what works for them - and take their experiences into consideration as you set up your review process. You’re likely to run into similar obstacles or decisions, so it’s helpful to know what your peers have done to overcome them.

Pre-screen applicants to save reviewers’ time. If a scholarship has a large number of applicants as well as preferred qualifications, consider eliminating those applicants who don’t meet the preferred qualifications before the review period to cut down on evaluation time. For example, if your scholarship awards to college students with a 2.0 GPA or higher and gives preferential consideration to female applicants, have the committee evaluate only the female applicants.

Decide how many times each application will be read. Perhaps you’d like all review committee members to read all applications. Or perhaps you’d like to divide applications up amongst the committee. Either way, decide ahead of time how many times each application should be read so none of your committee members take on a disproportionate share of applications.

When it comes to score cards, forget about scholarship eligibility. If this is your first time managing your scholarship process online, your review committee may be accustomed to screening applicants for eligibility in addition to evaluating the more subjective elements of their applications. With AwardSpring, you can be confident that every applicant in your pool is qualified. There’s no need to include any eligibility criteria in your score cards; allow your reviewers to focus on other areas of the application instead.

Establish scoring consistency. Make sure your review committee understands how to score essays by thoroughly outlining your expectations for each possible essay score. Clear expectations will minimize confusion and maximize scoring consistency among all reviewers on your committee.

Blind some information from reviewers. What elements of the application are absolutely essential for reviewers to see - and which aren’t? Keep your review process unbiased and uncluttered by hiding any unnecessary information from reviewers, and you’ll create fewer opportunities for unintentional FERPA violations.

Promote your process. If this is your first year using a scholarship management application, your review committee may be apprehensive about the changes that accompany a new online process. Take some time to remind your reviewers about the reasons you’ve switched to an online application - to save time, improve accuracy, maximize fund utilization, increase applicants, eliminate paperwork, etc. Overall, everybody’s goal is to award scholarship dollars to the most qualified and deserving applicants. Centralizing your applicant data, reviewer scores, and award information in one application helps you do that, even if it takes some getting used to in the beginning.