Introduction

This article reviews question types, how questions work, and special circumstances around special questions.



Navigate Through This Article

Matching Questions Vs. Application Questions

Types of Questions

Question Algorithm

Importance of Using Out-of-the-box-Questions

Layering Questions 

Using Student Information System (SIS) Data to Answer Questions

Hiding Questions




Matching Questions Vs. Application Questions

This section is an overview of the difference between matching and application questions.


Matching questions are used to identify eligibility to apply. Most scholarships have standard requirements for the students to meet to consider applying.


For example:

  1. You must have a GPA of at least 2.8 or greater
  2. You must be a Freshman
  3. You must be majoring in Business Management, Accounting, or Marketing


In ScholarshipUniverse, these requirements are displayed in a form of a question that the student answers. Using the example above, a scholarship's requirements are formatted as such:

  1. What is your cumulative GPA?
  2. What is your current academic level?
  3. What is your current or intended major(s)?


When setting up the requirements for these questions, you may set specific operators and values.

  1. What is your cumulative GPA? >= (greater than or equal to) 2.8
  2. What is your current academic level? = Freshman
  3. What is your current or intended major(s)? = Any of These (Business Management, Accounting, Marketing)


Applications questions are used to differentiate your eligible applicants. The matching questions help you filter who should apply, but the questions used on the application should assist your review committees judge who should be awarded. This is where you want to ask more personal questions, for essays or other supporting documentation, and request any letters of recommendation. These questions don't have requirements - they are used purely to evaluate the student.


Examples:

  1. Please provide a letter of recommendation from a leader in your community.
  2. Explain the impacts in your life that have lead you into your current major.

There is no need to include matching questions in applications - those questions are already used to qualify students to apply through the application - if a student doesn't meet all of the requirements, they cannot apply. Depending on the permissions designated for the review pool, a committee has the ability to review the matching requirements separate from the application, in case those questions are used as factors for scoring.




Types of Questions

There are several types of questions supported in the application.

  • List- delivers a defined list of values for the student to select from; multiple values can be chosen
    • i.e. "What is your current academic level?"
  • Integer - requires a numeric value that does not allow decimals or negative numbers
    • i.e. "As of today's date, in your current degree program, how many credits have you completed?"
  • Numeric - requires a numeric value that does allow decimals
    • i.e. "What is your cumulative GPA?"
  • Date - requires a date formatted answer; each date field provides a date picker
  • Yes/No - similar to True/False, this requires an answer of Yes or No
  • Text - requires a text answer, but can also handle special characters and numbers
  • Document- this question type requires a document to be provided by the student; documentation may be handled in numerous ways:
    • Upload - student must upload an existing document from their computer or smart device
    • Compose - student may compose their document and save into the application for reuse
    • Recommendation Letter - a letter of recommendation will be e-requested to the recommender of their choice
    • Hyperlink - a document that is linked to an outside resource (i.e. video link from YouTube, a link to the student's online portfolio, etc)

            * Some documents will only allow a document to be uploaded. Others will allow a student to select to upload an existing document or compose a new one.


Please note that all question types except for Text and Document types can be used as scholarship matching questions. The reason these two types cannot be used for matching are because neither can ever guarantee the match you're looking for. For Text types, if you wanted a match for "school" a student might misspell the word as "scool" or refer to it as "institution". Documents fall into similar circumstances.


All question types can be used for Applications, as students have already been matched to the scholarship.




Question Algorithm

This section reviews the question algorithm used to determine the order questions are asked to students. This is to give context to the impact of using out-of-the-box questions and layering questions outlined in the following sections.


The goal of the ScholarshipUniverse question algorithm is to try to match a student the most scholarships in the shortest amount of time. It does this by determining which remaining matching questions are tied to the most open scholarships that the student could still potentially match and apply to, taking in account answers that the student has already provided from other questions.


The number of scholarships tied to a question is determined by the number used by both the institution and from the scholarships in the external database.


A select few questions for example:


Question# of Institutional Scholarships# of External ScholarshipsTotal
What is your cumulative GPA?240450690
What is your current academic level?160200360
What ethnicity do you identify yourself as?100500600
What is your current or intended major(s)?300350650


The order of questions asked would appear by the total available to the student.


Schools With Both Institutional/External ScholarshipsSchools with Institutional Scholarships OnlySchools with External Scholarships Only
1. What is your cumulative GPA?
2. What is your current or intended major(s)?
3. What ethnicity do you identify yourself as?
4. What is your current academic level?
1. What is your current or intended major(s)?
2. What is your cumulative GPA?
3. What is your current academic level?
4. What ethnicity do you identify yourself as?
1. What ethnicity do you identify yourself as?
2. What is your cumulative GPA?
3. What is your current or intended major(s)?
4. What is your current academic level?


A matching question will not be asked to the student if one of these apply:

  1. Question is not tied to an active scholarship
  2. Question is tied to an active scholarships that the student no longer is able to match to
  • student has no possibility to matching due to responses to other matching requirements tied to those scholarships

        3. Question is already answered by Student Information System (SIS) data (more on that below)

        4. Question is hidden from student (more on that below)




Importance of Using Out-of-the-Box Questions

This section reviews the significance of using the library of existing questions offered in ScholarshipUniverse.


ScholarshipUniverse comes with hundreds of pre-built questions for your institution to use. These questions are already being utilized as matching requirements for the external scholarships offered within the application. Therefore, if your institution is utilizing the external scholarship search (or plan to in the future), a majority of these questions will be asked to your students based on the question algorithm.


If you create custom questions similar to the existing questions, you're likely to have students answering similar questions. Based on the question algorithm, your custom question may be pushed farther down the line to be asked because it may not have as many scholarships that it is tied to. It is advised to review the Question Dictionary during the on-boarding process to determine all of the questions that can be used before creating any new custom questions.


Let's review an example of creating a similar custom question and how it works in the question algorithm with the examples we used in the previous section.


If you created a similar GPA question "What is your current GPA?" and tied all of your institutional scholarships to the question.


Question# of Institutional Scholarships# of External ScholarshipsTotal
What is your cumulative GPA? (existing)0450450
What is your current academic level?160200360
What ethnicity do you identify yourself as?100500600
What is your current or intended major(s)?300350650
What is your current GPA? (custom)2400240


Assuming your institution is using both institutional and external scholarships, the following questions would be asked in order:

  1. What is your current or intended major(s)?
  2. What ethnicity do you identify yourself as?
  3. What is your cumulative GPA? (existing)
  4. What is your current academic level?
  5. What is your current GPA? (custom)


The bottom line when creating similar custom questions is that 1) you don't want to make the student answer the same question more than once, and 2) you don't want a custom question to be de-prioritized when ranked against the higher profile questions that are tied to more external scholarships.


If your institution doesn't like the way a question is worded, ScholarshipUniverse allows the ability to edit the display of a question and its hover over content. An Admin can make adjustments within the Question Personalization page by editing a question.


The important note to remember when editing the display of a question is to not change the context of the question. Changing the context may be usable by the institutional scholarships, but the external scholarships tied to the question may no longer be matching properly to students.


Example: Your institution updated the display of question "Are you planning to attend law school?" to "Are you planning to attend medical school?"

  • Students answering "Yes" to the question may receive matches to institutional medical school scholarships, but law school external scholarships
  • Students answering "No" would not be matched to law school external scholarships (when there may be a chance they are indeed studying law)




Layering Questions

This section explains the importance of "layering" questions in order to help the question algorithm to drive down and only ask applicable questions.


By default the question algorithm is looking to give every student a chance to match to every possible scholarship. Scholarships that have questions with more specific intents maybe be asking students questions that don't apply to every student.


Example 1: Let's say there are only these three scholarships available for the intents of the example. Two scholarships are using the question "Which of the following United States military branches are you a past/present member of?", while the third one is using the question "Did you serve in any of the following military operations/divisions?". 

Based on these scholarships alone, the question algorithm sees two unique questions and wants to ensure every student has an opportunity to try to match to all three scholarships. Based on the ranked priority:

  • "Which of the following United States military branches are you a past/present member of?" is used twice, so it will be asked first
  • "Did you serve in any of the following military operations/divisions?" is used only once, so it will be asked second


But why should every student be asked "Did you serve in any of the following military operations/divisions?" - this question is not applicable to any student who has never served, and may not be applicable to any students who served under specific branches of the military.


In the question algorithm section, it mentioned that question may not be asked if the "Question is tied to an active scholarships that the student no longer is able to match to". If we were to layer in a higher ranked question in Scholarship C that could filter out students that don't apply, only select students will see the question.

By adding the question "Which of the following United States military branches are you a past/present member of?" to Scholarship C, the question algorithm is slightly enhanced. Based on the ranked priority:

  • "Which of the following United States military branches are you a past/present member of?" is used by all three, so it will be asked first
  • "Did you serve in any of the following military operations/divisions?" is used only once, so it will be asked second


For those students who answer that they served in the Air Force or Army are now eligible to answer under what operation they served in. Any other answer will not be asked the subsequent question.


Amanda answered Army, which made her a match to Scholarship A, a non-match to Scholarship B, and a partial match to Scholarship C. She is still potentially eligible for Scholarship C, so the question algorithm will ask her which operation/division she served in. Danny answered N/A, meaning he didn't serve in any military branch. He is automatically a non-match to all three scholarships; more importantly, because he doesn't match to Scholarship C, there is no reason to ask him what operation/division he served in.



It's important that students aren't wasting time answering questions that don't apply to them - the goal is to drive students to answer the most amount of questions in the least time possible. By grouping a higher ranking question that could potentially filter out students from being asked non-applicable questions, it saves students the time and effort of answering questions.


Example 2: A scholarship may have the matching question "Have you completed less than 12 months of full-time graduate study?" But not every student is a graduate student and should not be asked the question. By grouping this question with "What is your current academic level?" = Graduate/Professional, it ensures that only students who identify as graduates will be asked the question.




Using Student Information System (SIS) Data to Answer Questions

This section explains the advantages of importing and mapping SIS data to questions to auto-answer on a student's behalf.


ScholarshipUniverse allows institutions to import SIS data, map it to specific questions, and allow the SIS data to answer and update questions. Upon each SIS data import, the process will look for any new information for each student record found and answer/update as needed. It is highly encouraged to map as many SIS data fields to matching questions as possible. The advantages to doing so include:

  • Accuracy of answers - preventative against false data accidentally/intentionally inputted by students
  • Reduce the number of questions to answer - the amount of SIS data fields mapped is the less amount of questions that a student has to answer, allowing them to focus on more specific questions and complete the questions in less time
  • Allows students to match to direct award scholarships without having to log in- SIS answered questions allow students to be matched to scholarships and awarded without the need to login
    • Warning about direct award scholarships: Please ensure that the SIS fields being used as direct award matching requirements are ones that are generally captured for every student in the SIS. If your institution only has a certain data field completed for 50 students and use that data/question in a direct award scholarship, the assumption is to only expect 50 students to be found matching to the scholarship (if not less from being filtered out by other matching questions).
      • It's not recommended to use matching questions for direct award scholarships that are only answered by students, unless your institution is confident that it is a high ranking question and is driving students into the application to complete.




Hiding Questions

This section reviews the functionality of hiding questions from students.


When building/editing questions, Admins have the ability to hide questions from students. The general use case is when an institution wants to import and map sensitive data to questions it prefer students didn't see. Examples may be the Estimated Family Contribution or admissions into selective programs. Students will not be asked this question, nor can they see the question/answer in their matching question review list.


It is advised to only hide a question if that question is solely used for direct award scholarships AND is SIS answered for majority of students, if not all. If a question is hidden and not a direct award (meaning it's tied to an application), students can't be expected to be able to match to a scholarship if they can't see the question to answer. Like the warning in the previous section, an institution can only expect the pool of candidates to only be as big as the number of students records providing that data.




Related Articles

Question Personalization

Application Vs. Direct Award Scholarships

Mapping SIS Data to Questions