Tarrant County College District (TCCD) serves over 50,000 students across six campuses. Rhonda Seyfried, Scholarship Manager, says, “Many of our students are first-generation college students. For many of them, scholarships can mean the difference between attending college or not.”
The District centralized their scholarship process by moving all scholarships to the Tarrant County College Foundation. As the number of scholarships offered increased—over 150 different scholarship funds and growing, the technology they chose could not offer all of the features they required to best manage the growth. “We needed to be able to complete application reviews and view references online,” says Seyfried. “AcademicWorks provided everything we needed.”
Tarrant County College Foundation implemented AcademicWorks in 2013. Although their AcademicWorks website allows students to access and apply for all available scholarships, it’s always a challenge to publicize the opportunities effectively.
Methods of Advertising Scholarships
“Our District serves students across six campuses in a county that is over 900 square miles,” notes Seyfried. “We use a combination of printed material and electronic communications to reach as many students and potential students as possible,” she says.
Students receive emails from the District that tell them where they can go to apply for all the scholarships that Tarrant County College Foundation (TCCF) has to offer. There is a webpage for first-generation students coming from high school to help them navigate through the application process since they often need additional resources as they enter college. Additionally, scholarship information is posted on the financial aid website. Once applications open, the front banner of the school website highlights the AcademicWorks site for students to easily access.
Business cards with the Foundation’s AcademicWorks website address are handed out at high schools and other community events. Presentations on the application process are also done in the community and in the TCCD classrooms. This business card is also placed in high-traffic areas on campus, such as in the offices of business services, advising, and financial aid. Seyfried says, “Our staff set up tables in courtyards at each campus to personally hand out the cards to students. We do everything possible to reach as many students as we can.”
Applications are collected from students from January through April. TCCF uses AcademicWorks to monitor application completion and submission rates. “Our goal is to have more than a 50% completion rate. With the help of AcademicWorks, we’ve been able to achieve a 56% completion rate,” says Seyfried.
If any hard-to-fill scholarships are not awarded for the academic year, applications for those scholarships will reopen in the fall. Once all applications are received, review groups have two-and- a-half weeks to log into AcademicWorks, complete the reviews, and meet to discuss the final award rankings. Awards are offered by August 1st.
“Our rules stipulate that each student may only be awarded one scholarship per term, so my office has to verify a student’s award status each term,” says Seyfried.
Scholarship Committee Training
Every year, Seyfried trains the review committees so they can complete their reviews on time without errors. “In my presentation, I show them exactly what they will see, step-by- step, using screen shots so that there are no surprises,” she says. Each committee member gets a copy of the PowerPoint following the training.
“I assign reviews to committee members and track their progress directly through AcademicWorks,” says Seyfried. If no progress is seen, “I send a polite email reminding the reviewers how much their effort helps the students,” she says.
“The offers are made through AcademicWorks,” says Seyfried. “After students are notified of their awards, AcademicWorks instructs them to check their student email account for details. We plan to fully automate this process through AcademicWorks for our next cycle. We look forward to how this will further mainstream and simplify the awarding process.”
Once awards are made, the Donor Relations Office distributes thank-you communications to donors. A scholarship dinner held in the fall allows donors to personally meet with the scholarship recipients. Seyfried notes, “AcademicWorks has made it easier to maintain relationships with existing donor and create new ones as well.”
Simplify Scholarship Management
AcademicWorks continues to improve the way Tarrant County College Foundation manages their scholarships. Please contact us to see how we can assist your campus.