Scholarships are a lifeline for many students seeking a college education. In fact, Sallie Mae conducted a study in 2019 that showed 33% of students paid for college with financial aid that didn’t require repayment, such as scholarships. Scholarship donors, therefore, make a significant impact on the lives of students seeking a college education.

With so many individuals applying for a limited number of awards, the selection process becomes crucial. Each application often has multiple pages and attachments such as transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, and more.

Scholarship reviewers must read and evaluate hundreds of student applications, assessing how each meets the scholarship award criteria. Many reviewers are volunteers who sign up to take on this monumental task while simultaneously working full-time jobs and managing family commitments.

As a reviewer, it is easy to feel lost and overwhelmed when facing such a daunting task. That’s why it’s essential to make the selection process as efficient as possible, so the review process doesn’t get derailed. Here are four simple tips for keeping your scholarship reviewers on track.

Set Clear Expectations

With so many applications to review under strict time constraints, reviewers need to quickly reduce the size of their review queue by eliminating non-qualified candidates. Therefore, scholarship administrators need to provide reviewers with tools that promptly separate the non-qualified from the genuine contenders. Scoring rubrics are, therefore, a must!

What are the attributes of the ideal scholarship recipient? The rubric should essentially outline these attributes and supply details that support each.

Scoring rubrics should be designed with a specific purpose. For example, identifying which health field-related students are most likely to succeed. Next, rubrics should have a set of criteria that matches the ideal candidates. Last, it should include a scoring mechanism consisting of point values and short descriptions to go with each value.

Wondering what a scoring rubric looks like? The Thomas Dixon Memorial Scholarship for students pursuing health-related degrees has an excellent example rubric.

The best way to provide your reviewers with a scoring rubric is through a scholarship management system. For example, Scholar’s App, a cloud-based scholarship management service, allows donors and administrators to input portions of the scoring rubric to automatically filter out ineligible applicants. Using Scholar’s App, if reviewers should only consider applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, anyone who has a GPA below this threshold is automatically removed from the review pool.

Avoid Email 

As scholarship applications begin pouring in, the review process must move along steadily. When multiple reviewers are involved, sending time-sensitive communications via email can disrupt the review flow if the communications are not received timely.

Important emails can get buried in a busy inbox. Worse yet, one might receive the dreaded “Message Delivery Failure” if an email recipient’s box is full or if their email address had a typo. Besides, email isn’t as effective as text messaging. Most individuals will see and respond faster to a text message than an email. A study showed 95% of texts are read within 3 minutes of being sent.

The best way to ensure fast, effective, reliable communication is again by using a scholarship management software solution. Not only does it facilitate reliable real-time communications, but with systems like Scholar’s App, you can also send automated texts. Both individual and group messaging are available. With a click of a button, every reviewer gets the same information instantly.

Send Reminders

Reminders are a must to keep reviewers on tasks. Providing gentle reminders at various milestones in the scholarship review timeline will help keep everyone moving forward at a similar pace. The review process depends heavily on each reviewer meeting their timeline so the review team as a whole can provide notifications to eagerly awaiting applicants. Scholars’ App allows donors and administrators to automate these reminders making it one less item on a to-do list.

Give Incentives

Everyone loves a reward! Give individual and team incentives. Individuals will not want to let their reviewer teammates down, so group incentives act as an added motivator.

Incentives don’t have to be costly. Modest gift cards, t-shirts with the scholarship name or foundation, or beverage holders are all items reviewers will appreciate.

Incentives are easier to manage on scholarship management platforms where scholarship review data and time tracking are easy to view or pull reports.

Be kind to scholarship reviewers. They offer their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of students they will likely never meet. The best way to be kind is to provide them with clear guidelines (including the proper tools), gentle reminders, and heartfelt incentives.

Take the first step towards sharing the love with your reviewers by signing up for Scholar’s App. A complete scholarship management software platform allows scholarship administrators to set award standards, automate communications and reminders, and quickly pull data to manage reviewer incentives.

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