The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) is a national honors society that provides access to over a million dollars in scholarships and resources to high achieving college students each year. Jen Castillo, Senior Manager of Scholarships, has been with NSCS for six years. Jen manages the scholarship program from development to disbursement. She creates the qualifications for new scholarship opportunities, executes the application and review process, and collaborates with the Marketing Team to promote scholarships to internal and external audiences. She also oversees the scholarship budget for the organization.
Before the implementation of AcademicWorks, students applying for scholarships would complete applications using Google forms. The responses from the Google forms were then exported into Microsoft Excel for distribution to reviewers via a mail merge. “The biggest challenge we faced with this process was the volume of applications we received” mentioned Jen. “We received over 10,000 applications and it wasn’t an efficient process.”
When NSCS started looking for new technology to support their process, they had a list of general requirements they were looking for. “We specifically wanted something that was user friendly for both the applicant and for our administrators,” said Jen. They were also looking for something that would integrate with their Salesforce database so that users could have a single-sign-on experience.
NSCS chose AcademicWorks for several reasons including the integration with their Salesforce database. “We also liked that the user would have a seamless NSCS experience” stated Jen. “Administrators can easily send branded emails to applicants and award recipients directly from AcademicWorks.” The team at NSCS also liked that it was easy to see the status of all the reviews from within the product without having to continually remind reviewers. “With everyone working from one central place, it is easy to keep an eye on the entire scholarship process,” mentioned Jen.
Using AcademicWorks, scholarships are made available for applicants throughout the year. With one website, it is easy to advertise their scholarships on social media and in newsletters to their students. It is also easy to remind students of scholarship opportunities and upcoming deadlines. They can also see when scholarship recipients have started an application and create communications specifically to remind students of that particular deadline.
Once applications are collected, review committee members can log into AcademicWorks directly, starting the review process much quicker than with the previous review process. Review committees are made up NSCS alumni members who donate their time as a way of giving back to the organization. The committee is given a set number of applications to review and they rank applicants based on their scoring rubric. Jen makes the final awarding decision out of the finalists presented by the committee. Once the student is awarded they ask the student for a testimonial and a photo. This information is easily collected through AcademicWorks and they use this information on social media and to promote future scholarships.
Since the implementation of AcademicWorks, they have seen an increase in the number of completed applications submitted, reduction in duplicate applications submitted, and a shorter time to review applications.
“The best part of AcademicWorks for us has been the improvements to our reviewing process. I can see the status of all my reviewers and can easily reassign any incomplete review. AcademicWorks has sped up our review process and helps me to make awards faster.”