If you’ve set out to improve a student’s life with a scholarship, your main aim is to make the money go into the right hands. In other words, you want the process to be fair and just and that the student who’s really in need gets the scholarship.
However, there is a problem that often happens – as scholarship managers and reviewers, we all have our own biases and we could unintentionally favor a certain group of people or a certain student.
There are some ways to make your scholarship award process more equitable and just – and here they are.
Put trust in scholarship software
While there are some application elements that need to be reviewed manually (such as essays), most applications can be reviewed automatically. Unlike human beings, scholarship software is completely unbiased and will choose the best applicants based on the criteria that you feed it. For example, you can set the location, the GPA, the type of university and major and the software will automatically only choose those applicants that meet these criteria. No need to double or triple check your applications and no chance for a mistake to slip by.
Of course, the results will largely depend on the initial criteria you set, so choose carefully. Good scholarship software such as ScholarshipApp will come with a default set of requirements that you can use as soon as you launch a scholarship.
Make the application process simple
If you launch a scholarship such as “Young African-Americans in the STEM field” and ask for three rounds of applications and two essays, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Not only is your applicant pool already super narrow, but you’re decreasing your applicant number with additional requirements.
Since you’re already using scholarship software, you can set the basic requirements in the app and let the software choose the best applicants on its own. The more requirements you add, the fewer students will end up finishing their applications. Not only will you decrease your reach but you will also make it more difficult for the students who deserve the scholarship to get it.
Use inclusive language in your applications
Did you know that using certain phrases will discourage certain types of applicants from applying? If you’re using phrases aimed specifically towards white, male students, you’re very likely to discourage everyone else from applying. The problem is, you could be putting certain student groups at a disadvantage without knowing it.
The first thing to do is to make sure multiple read your scholarship application pages to ensure that they are as objective as possible. Another thing you can do is employ tools like Textio that allow you to scan your content for any type of bias. That way, you can ensure that what you write applies to all students instead of one specific group.
Use consistent scoring
When you determine your scoring criteria, make it public. Both students and reviewers need to know what specifically they need to do in order to be eligible and win the scholarship. Make sure that the criteria are listed publicly on the application page so there are no doubts later on whether someone meets them or not.
One of the best ways to do this is by setting the criteria automatically within your scholarship software. For example, if you set a GPA threshold at 3.5, everyone who applies with a score below that will automatically be disqualified.
Put simply, using scholarship software instead of manually reviewing each application makes it much more difficult to skew the results or be subjective when choosing your scholarship winner.
There is no perfectly objective way to award a scholarship without involving some kind of personal attitude or opinion. However, by using our scholarship software and preparing the application the right way from the start, you are ensuring that the scholarship award process will be equitable and fair.