Define Your Ideal Recipient
Analyze your program goals and clearly identify who the “ideal” candidate is for your program. This may be the best all-around applicant with various service activities as well as academic success or this may be the applicant who works a part-time job to make ends meet and overcomes adversity.
Nail Down Your Rubric
Once you know who your “ideal” candidate is, structure your selection rubric to match these qualifications. If you are looking to award the student with the most financial need who has also positively impacted the community, your rubric should reflect that with the most “weight” allocated to the criteria that are the most important to you.
Identify Your Review Process
Qualitative or quantitative; that is the question! Many scholarship program selections are successful because they start with a formula-based selection to rank the applicant pool. This approach can help filter out applicants that drastically underperform in specified areas and spotlight those who outshine in others. Once ranked, individual application review can be employed to identify your winning candidates. For programs based on subjective criteria, involve a team of qualified application reviewers that have a demonstrated skillset in subject areas that align with your program goals.
Address Bias In Your Selection Process
Whether you have opted for a formula-based or holistic review process, blind all information that is not pertinent to making candidate selections. This may include names, gender, location or any other applicant data that may open the door for an unintentional bias in the mind of your reviewers. Additionally, explore online resources that can help your organization identify unconscious bias/assumptions that can skew your selection results.
Communicate Review Expectations Clearly
A clearly defined process is essential to executing a fair selection process. This includes providing details to your reviewers about your applicant pool and target audience to identify commonalities among the candidates. The more your team understands about the background of your applicant pool, the less likely you are to have scoring bias. When utilizing a holistic rubric approach, clearly define what your scoring ranges mean. Provide samples/descriptions of your ranking scale to avoid scoring variances among individual reviewers.