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The Psychology of Scholarships: Lessening the Barriers for Students and Reviewers


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Finances are a massive barrier to studying abroad, yet many students don’t apply for scholarships. What are the barriers to applying? Do your scholarships encourage participation, and how does the timing of scholarship deadlines/notifications impact choices to go abroad? What can generate higher-quality essays, and how do you reduce reviewer bias? This interactive panel discussion will explore how the University of Minnesota, IFSA-Butler, and CIEE are tackling these important questions. Participants will leave with tools and resources to improve their own scholarships and review processes, and to decrease barriers to scholarships.

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The Psychology of Scholarships: Lessening the Barriers for Students and Reviewers

  1. 1. 11/22/14 1 THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SCHOLARSHIPS: LESSENING THE BARRIERS FOR STUDENTS AND REVIEWERS Amanda Fischer, University of Minnesota Thuy Doan, University of Minnesota Michelle Tolan, IFSA-Butler Jarlath McGuckin, CIEE Objectives Participants will leave with: ¨ An understanding of scholarship barriers, and strategies for how to mitigate them ¨ Ideas for tweaks can you make to your existing or new scholarships ¨ Actions/ideas to implement in your own institution or organization
  2. 2. 11/22/14 2 Assumptions 1. Must address other financial needs of students in order for scholarships to be successful ¤ Financial aid, budgeting, and fundraising 2. As educators, we are involved in the process of discussing financials and scholarships with students ¤ Discussions happen fairly early on ¤ Timing of conversations a big challenge 3. This panel doesn’t have this down 100% ¤ Share lessons learned and generate discussion/ideas Definition of Terms ¨ Scholarship vs. Grant ¨ “financial need” ¨ EFC (estimated family contribution) ¨ Diversity: what is it to you?
  3. 3. 11/22/14 3 Student Scholarship Barriers ¨ Popcorn: What scholarship-related barriers must students overcome? ¨ Identify 2-3 specific student populations and the barriers that might be unique and/or more acute to them. Student Scholarship Barriers ¨ Terminology ¨ Perception of “need” ¨ Notions of diversity ¨ Assumptions on availability First Generation College Students and/or Low-Income Students: ¤ (all of the above) + ¤ Type of award ($$) ¤ Timing ¤ Application requirements
  4. 4. 11/22/14 4 STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP BARRIERS What role might we be playing in these barriers? • What do we require (and why)?: letters of rec, GPA, essays/writing samples • How informed are we? • How do we market/promote scholarships? Promotion of Scholarships
  5. 5. 11/22/14 5 Promotion to Students: Providers ¨ Marketing to students and advisers is crucial. ¨ Advisers: Same old “beef stew” of scholarships & grants? ¨ Availability and attainability of new scholarships & grants ¨ Terminology as barrier: “Scholarship” vs. “Grant” vs. “Financial Aid” Promotion to Students: SA Advisers Strategic promotion can make a BIG difference on campus >30% increase in scholarship applications Specific Activities/Resources
  6. 6. 11/22/14 6 Scholarship Chart You CAN Afford to Study Abroad Info Sessions ¨ Focus: Navigating scholarships, choosing an affordable program, how to use financial aid ¨ 4 x per year, ~ 30-60 students each session ¨ Integrated promotion into other student materials ¤ Flyer with dates in all advising cubes ¤ Always on website ¤ Slide in our First Step session n Online and in-person 30 min intro session (Study Abroad 101) ¤ Mentioned in our Program Selection Workbook
  7. 7. 11/22/14 7 Scholarship Process Webpage 4 Step Process 1. Scholarships Chart 2. UofM Scholarship Search Creative Financing Ideas 3. You CAN Afford to Study Abroad Info Sessions 4. Support resources: ¤ Center for Writing ¤ Personal Statement Tips National Scholarship Promotion Info Sessions, workshops, handouts, and emails to students for the following scholarships:
  8. 8. 11/22/14 8 Role of Campus Advisers ¨ Psychological impact of advisers ¤ Encouraging or discouraging ¤ Incorrect or outdated info ¨ Who do students seek info from? ¨ Disseminate beyond Ed Abroad offices ¤ Ex: Funding Learning Abroad Adviser Trainings ¨ Encourage deeper engagement Scholarship Advising on Campus ¨ Use multiple touchpoints ¨ Personal encouragement ¨ Offer pointers and coaching ¨ Acknowledge students are busy ¨ Suggest 1-2 scholarships ¨ Diversity scholarships ¨ Mention award ratios ¨ Train other campus advisers
  9. 9. 11/22/14 9 Scholarship Structures Scholarship Structure ¨ Why do you have a scholarship? ¨ Research who you’re trying to reach and work backwards ¨ Psychology of Student ≈ Psychology of Scholarship
  10. 10. 11/22/14 10 Addressing Middle Income Students ¨ Scholarships & Grants now split into 3 buckets: ¤ Academic Excellence ¤ Access n GAIN ¤ Ambassadorship ¨ Pell eligibility in 2014-2015: EFC = $5157 Timing is Crucial ¨ GAIN – Reply & Retraction ¨ GAIN – Confirm à Travel Agent for airline ticket à remainder = travel stipend
  11. 11. 11/22/14 11 Feeling the impact Structure a scholarship so students are able to feel the impact Application Components ¨ What do you need to determine who receives a scholarship? (i.e. do you really need all you’re requesting?) ¨ When do you ask for it? ¨ Examples: ¤ IFSA-Butler First Gen ¤ UMN & GAIN
  12. 12. 11/22/14 12 Eligibility and Preference Factors Who is your target population? ¤ Eligibility: Broad/narrow enough? ¤ Important to include definitions n ‘financial need’ Are you using preference factors or eligibility criteria? ¤ Ex: Financial Need/First Generation Scholarship ¤ Who are you trying help? “Planning” Scholarship Models ¨ CIEE Global Access Initiative (GAIN) ¤ Rolling admissions review ¤ Early application = Early award notification ¨ UMN Financial Need/First Generation Scholarship ¤ Earlier deadline = Early award notification ¤ Rollover capability ¤ Multiple chances to apply
  13. 13. 11/22/14 13 Essay Prompts, Wordsmithing, and Lowering Reviewer Bias Essay Prompt Re-Design ¨ Process ¤ Is there a problem? ¤ Brown bag focus group ¤ Small committee: wordsmith, clarify issues, purpose, goals ¤ Critical approach: Why is this important? ¨ Why high quality essays are important ¤ May color reviewers’ impressions of study abroad quality ¤ Students more competitive for OTHER scholarships ¨ Outcome: Very impressed by heightened quality
  14. 14. 11/22/14 14 How much reviewer bias does your structure allow for? ¨ How do our own psychologies affect how we review scholarships? ¨ Strategies for minimizing reviewer bias: ¤ Detailed rubric ¤ Detailed instructions that give examples of bias to take into consideration (awareness is key) ¤ For grammar component: non-native speaker checkbox ¨ Outcomes: ¤ Scores no longer flip flop and are more consistent (never perfect though!) ¤ Reviewers MUCH happier and less emotionally conflicted Discussion What methods of scholarship structuring and promotion have been the most successful and made scholarships feel accessible to students? For example: ¨ Do your scholarships reward or encourage participation? ¨ How are you marketing to students?
  15. 15. 11/22/14 15 Action Items/Takeaways ¨ Analyze: Are your scholarships achieving what you want? ¨ Think about how you promote & discuss scholarships w/ students and advisers: Are scholarship barriers at your institution being addressed? ¨ Which tools/strategies would work well for your institution? ¨ This may be challenging at first, but worth changing the status quo Call to Action: ¨ What changes will you make this year? ¨ Psychology of Scholarships 2.0, next year? THANK YOU! Amanda Fischer, University of Minnesota Thuy Doan, University of Minnesota Michelle Tolan, IFSA-Butler Jarlath McGuckin, CIEE