Part 2 – Promote it! This is the second article in a series of three dedicated to professionals involved in managing scholarships and grants.
Ordinarily, one would think all scholarship and grant opportunities garner countless applications; after all, ‘everyone loves free money.’ Interestingly, that is not always the case. The market is heavily saturated with scholarships and grants making it easy for you to get lost in the mix.
Of course, you want to get lots of applications; you want to attract the best and brightest applicants. However, how will they apply if they are unaware that your scholarship or grant exists? That is why it is not enough to create a scholarship or grant programme. You also need to promote it in order to maximize its potential. Here is how to get started.
How to effectively promote your Scholarship Programme
Make your scholarship appealing
When you are looking to promote a scholarship programme, you need to keep a few key things in mind. First and foremost, make sure that your scholarship appeals to potential applicants. With tuition fees rising, more and more students are turning to scholarships to help pay for school. Regardless, you have to make your scholarship appealing enough to catch their attention. So how do you make your scholarship stand out?
One way to make your scholarship appealing is by being upfront and clear about what is required from the applicant. The students should not have to search to the depths of the earth to find out your scholarship’s requirements, and the same applies to grants. Keep in mind that many students would be reluctant to apply for scholarships with a lengthy and complicated application process or unattainable requirements. DreamApply helps in this regard.
Another way to make your programme attractive is by offering more significant awards. It can be tempting to spread your funds and award small sums to several students, but one or a few scholarships with more considerable amounts tend to gain more attention and, consequently, more applicants.
Put your scholarship out there
The thought of getting free money is enough to motivate any student, but your potential applicants have to hear about your scholarship in the first place in order to apply. So it is all on you to make your scholarship visible. Here are some ways to do so.
- PR and Media Outreach
Particularly in the case of sizable scholarship amounts, press releases, media reports and newsletters are great ways to get the word out and garner attention. Is there an interesting story behind the scholarship? Tell it! Is the scholarship being sponsored by well-known individuals or organizations? Name them! The exciting part is that it only takes one news outlet to pick up the story for others to follow. Remember to also share the news on your website and social media platforms.
- Social Media Ads
It is no news that students spend a considerable amount of their time online. That might be your key to gaining their attention. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok have outreach campaign services that you can use in promoting your scholarship. They are not so expensive. Meanwhile, you can also set your budget and schedule. The best part is that you can target your ads to the type of applicants you are interested in based on demographics (age, education level, location, etc.) and interests. Do remember to make your ad content as informative and appealing as possible.
- Alumni and Past Recipients
If not your first scholarship or grant programme, it is practical to enlist the services of the past recipients. In fact, it goes a long way. To begin with, you should have a webpage that shines some light on your past awardees and shares some information about them and how your funding helped them. Beyond that, encourage them to forward information about your scholarship to their friends, other students, school boards, and clubs. They could also post about it across their social media accounts. You would be surprised at how much difference word of mouth makes.
- Scholarship Directories and Online Student Forums
When seeking financial aid, the first port of call for students is usually scholarship directories and student forums. Scholarship directories can be an excellent resource for students because they consolidate information about many different scholarships into one place. In addition, they often have filters that allow students to quickly find scholarships that match their interests and qualifications. There are many great scholarship directories on the internet that can help promote your scholarship. Some of these directories and message boards are free, while others may charge a small fee. The most popular ones are FastWeb, Scholarships.com, and Niche.
Student forums are websites and platforms where students discuss everything about education and life pre/post-college. Of course, this includes sharing information on scholarships they have found or were awarded. By listing your scholarship on these platforms, you can reach a large number of potential applicants. When listing your scholarships there, be sure to include all the details about it, such as the eligibility requirements, award amount, application deadline, as well as a link to the application portal.
Since students are always in need of one form of financial assistance or the other, most schools appreciate external funding and are quick to share such opportunities with their students. Promote your scholarships by targeting institutions where your potential applicants are bound to be by contacting their student councils, admissions, and financial aid departments, and guidance counselor offices. They could share the information on their websites and newsletters or invite you to their student fairs and information sessions. Remember to share as much information as possible about the funding with them.
Promoting a scholarship or grant might be a bit of hard work, but there is no doubt that it pays off. You get access to a vast pool of applicants from which you can choose the best as your recipients. And not to worry, upon the influx of applications, an all-in-one scholarship management platform like DreamApply, streamlines the entire process, taking the most challenging admin tasks off your shoulders.