ScholarshipUniverse Rollout: How to Maximize Student Engagement

 
 

ScholarshipUniverse Rollout: How to Maximize Student Engagement 
 
Scholarship dollars are crucial to your student’s retention and completion, filling financial need gaps that can often cause students to walk away from higher education. You’ve invested in ScholarshipUniverse to make it easier for students to find, apply for, and win scholarships at your school. ScholarshipUniverse will also make it easier for your staff to manage the process, streamlining everything.  
 
Now that you’re ready to officially roll out ScholarshipUniverse, you’re focused on driving student adoption of the technology. So are we. Before you download anything from our ScholarshipUniverse Student Rollout Kit, read on. You’re going to need a strategy to help you successfully communicate the value of your new scholarship resources to your students. Once you’ve got your plan ready, plenty of downloadable email, social media, and digital assets await. Many of the assets and tactics discussed here were developed by CampusLogic customers and are proving wildly successful.  
 
Define Your Strategy
Rolling out 24/7 scholarship technology is exciting, but your students won’t benefit from the technology if they don’t know about it. While it’s a great first step to put information about the upcoming change on your financial aid website, if students don’t visit that page, it’s not going to help. Students are busier than ever on their phones—checking social media, surfing the web, and doing hundreds of other things at once—and you already know that emails often go unread. So how do you get the word out? You need to get in front of them on as many channels as possible, as early as possible. Think of your rollout in stages: who needs to know, what do they need to know, and when do they need to know it? 
 
Drive Student Adoption: Three Stages  
Stage 1: Awareness That Change Is Coming 

Pre-communication is simply a way of generating awareness that change is on the way. Students need to see a message several times before they act or absorb its implications. Plan to communicate changes early-on, and, if possible, provide the effective date for the new implementation. In your early communications, give students specific details regarding why a change is being made, specifically when it comes to meeting their needs and improving service by streamlining processes with ScholarshipUniverse. Hype them up about the value that this will bring so they are curious and jump into the technology when you launch. 
 
Stage 2: Tactical Change Management 
During this stage, plan for the various needs of your different student populations. You’ll have returning students who may be used to your previous process of applying for scholarships or perhaps who previously had little awareness of scholarship opportunities. Plan out what they’ll need to be successful in transitioning to the new process. For incoming students who are new to your process, you’ll have less education to do around change management—but don’t overlook this group.  

Incoming students are often inundated with a lot of new information. Strategically promoting ScholarshipUniverse at incoming student touchpoints will help them realize you are committed to helping them with scholarships 24/7 and throughout their academic career at your institution. If you are going live with ScholarshipUniverse mid-aid-year, you may have to be explicitly clear to students regarding which—if any—of the old process will remain during the transition, should students need to close out existing items before the transition to ScholarshipUniverse occurs. 
 
It’s a great idea to brainstorm through this stage with your financial aid office and other stakeholders. Remember to also involve other stakeholders like other departments that may administer their own scholarships. This is especially important if not all departments are going live at the same time.  
 
Stage 3: Ongoing Communication  
Plan to continue communications throughout the year, showcasing how you offer transparent, personalized support. It’s also a good idea to host digital communications on websites or in portals where students conduct business, such as admissions or departmental sites. Provide flyers and resources about your process at ground events like orientations that will help you build on general awareness. Getting students to log in is key. A unique benefit of ScholarshipUniverse is that once students log in, they will automatically get email reminder notifications about new scholarships. Additionally, if students opt in to SMS messages, and your institution has it turned on in the system, students will also receive text messages, keeping them engaged.  
 
Your Student Rollout Kit 
Now that you’ve mapped out the stages of student adoption of ScholarshipUniverse, you’ll want to communicate a consistent message across multiple channels. To make it easy for you, CampusLogic has developed a convenient rollout kit that promotes the fact that you are tuned in and aware of what your students want and need: Mobile services they can access anytime. Here’s what’s included: 
 
Email Assets 
In the ScholarshipUniverse Rollout Kit, you’ll find copy suggestions for an introduction email, along with an email header image option that you can download and provide to your email team. For an easy win, you can add a few lines to the auto-signature of anyone in your financial aid and scholarship office, offering links where students can find more information on the new process. (We’ve included suggestions for that, too.)

Pro Tip: When it comes to driving open rates, focus on ensuring your subject line, email pre-header, and from line work well together. These three elements—along with the day and time you send—have the greatest impact on your email success. 
 
Social Media Assets 
Since 75% of students use social media during their college searches, a major process change should definitely be communicated via social channels (especially when it’s as awesome as mobile, self-service, 24/7 financial aid). In the Student Rollout Kit, you’ll find Facebook and Twitter suggestions, a new Instagram suggestion, channel-specific imagery, and suggestions for how often to communicate on each. 

Pro Tip: Using hashtags that are relevant to your institution can help your posts gain traction. Think of things like your school name, mascot, school team, and student body nickname. Your social media team can also provide suggestions. 
 
Digital Assets 
Students pass through many institutional landing pages and portals. Many of these landing pages offer right rail or banner space to promote messages of importance to student progress. In the ScholarshipUniverse Rollout Kit you’ll find suggested copy and FAQs.  

Pro Tip: Track questions you receive and consider adding them to your FAQs or content. 
 
Print Assets 
Paperless is great, but sometimes students WANT paper—like when they stop by your Financial Literacy Month table and have questions about your process. Consider putting up flyers and posters in high-traffic areas around campus: the FA office, Admissions office, and student hall, for example. In the ScholarshipUniverse Student Rollout Kit, you’ll find a poster option that highlights the value all students receive from ScholarshipUniverse. 
 
We’re always working to refine the support kit, and we welcome your ideas. Have suggestions for additional assets that would help you drive adoption across your student population? Please let your Customer Success Manager know and we’ll see what we can do! 
 
Access the ScholarshipUniverse Student Rollout Kit >

 

About the Author

Ken Downs

Evangelizing how technology and best practices can remove friction for students, schools, and organizations in the scholarship and financial aid space, Downs is CampusLogic’s Product Evangelist. He was instrumental in leading the development of the University of Arizona’s national award-winning ScholarshipUniverse product, now part of CampusLogic’s platform. A longstanding member of the National Scholarship Provider’s Association, Downs has given workshops titled: Big Data and the Coming Scholarship Sea Change, Scholarship Hacking—Cutting the Gordian Knot, and the Scholarship Universe Story.

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