Scholarship application forms are the best way to make sure you’re collecting the information you need from gifted students looking for financial help to achieve their ambitious goals. There’s a lot on the line, so it’s important to do your students and administration justice by dishing out an inspired form that will yield the highest quality and quantity of students.
Be specific to your department or school
Does your school or department have unique values? Be sure to demonstrate these in the application form so that you give students the opportunity to speak to how they’re a good fit. Consider asking questions about your school’s mission statement or subjects fit into the lives of the students responding to the application.
Have your applicants express why they want the scholarship, not just rattle off their qualifications
Scholarship money isn’t given away — it’s earned. So it’s not enough to simply ask basic questions on a scholarship application form without giving students an opportunity to express why they actually want the scholarship. It’s a good way to separate the ones who want your scholarship versus the ones who want every scholarship.
Include file-upload options for longer essay questions
Unwieldy, long forms can be daunting for an applicant to fill out, and even more daunting to sift through when it’s time to read the responses. Consider having interested applicants upload files for longer-text questions and essays. It also makes it easier for you to print out responses and read them away from the computer.
Ask for references
It’s up to you whether or not to contact them, but asking for references sets the precedent that you’re taking this scholarship seriously, and so should the student. All that’s needed is a field for reference name, title, email address, and phone number.
Challenge critical thinking
See what your scholarship applicants are made of by asking questions that encourage them to explore to think critically: “What would you do in [XYZ] situation?”; “What book impacted your life the most, and how?”; or even “How do you plan to uphold university values in your community after you graduate?” They’re fun questions for students to answer, and it gives you a great chance to see who they really are.
Are there any tips we forgot? What are must-haves on your scholarship application forms? Let us know!