Nelson Education

Leveraging FluidReview to manage a multi-stage scholarship application process

Nelson Education Ltd. is Canada’s leading education publisher, providing innovative products and solutions for learners of all ages. For over 40 years, Nelson Education has been enabling the success of educators and students across Canada.

To support their mission, Nelson Education offers a yearly Civic Leadership Scholarship, recognizing three outstanding students who demonstrate civic engagement and leadership in their communities with a $5000 award.

Every year, Nelson Education receives a flood of applications from worthy students across Canada. For staff and administrators, the challenge lies in creating an application process that’s simple, intuitive, and can provide them with the information they need to make the best possible decision on candidates.

The Challenge

The application process for Nelson Education’s Civic Leadership Scholarship consists of multiple stages:

1. In the first stage, applicants are required to complete an application form, submit a personal essay, and provide a reference letter.

2. Selected finalists are asked to complete the second stage of the application process, which requires them to provide their High School transcripts, an additional reference letter, and a letter of acceptance from a post-secondary institution.

3. Prior to receiving the $5000 award, the 3 selected recipients are asked to provide proof of tuition payment.

Initially, Nelson Education managed the application process using a combination of disconnected online tools. An application form was created using a simple form tool, and a dedicated email inbox was set up to collect supporting documents from applicants.

While the application process seemed simple enough, it quickly became very difficult to manage. Administrators and applicants had to constantly move between systems, as application forms were submitted in one place, while support documents had to be sent separately via email. This created confusion for applicants and placed significant burdens on administrators. It was time consuming to match each applicant’s form response to their emailed documents, challenging to aggregate the collected data, and difficult to track the status of each applicant as they moved through the process.

Natalie Grella, the Civic Leadership Scholarship Administrator, recalls, “we could collect information, but we couldn’t aggregate it, we couldn’t manipulate the data. We would just push out an Excel document that summarized applicant information, but with that, there was a lot of manual manipulation that needed to be done. It was painful.”

Communicating with applicants quickly became another major hurdle. The administrative team tried to stay on top of sending reminders and confirmation messages to applicants, but with everything done manually, it was incredibly onerous. Even sending simple notifications, like alerting applicants that they had advanced to the next stage, was time consuming.

“In our first year, we worked so diligently to email people who submitted references and essays, but sometimes we missed some. We needed something more intuitive.”

All of this resulted in a process that was very challenging to manage on the administrative side, and confusing for applicants. Administrators were bogged down under inefficient workloads, and applicants were dealing with a disjointed process.

The administrative team at Nelson Education knew they needed to a better solution. They set out to look for a tool that would allow them to create an easy to manage and applicant friendly process, so they could focus on growing their program instead of mundane and repetitive administrative tasks.

The Solution: Reliability and centralization with FluidReview

After several weeks of research, FluidReview was chosen as the platform for Nelson Education’s 2014 Civic Leadership Scholarship program.

To everyone’s delight, moving from a decentralized process to FluidReview was quick and simple. Working with a dedicated onboarding team, Nelson Education was able to configure their FluidReview site to match their program’s existing workflow, implementing 3 application stages and 7 applicant tasks. They did not have to make any adjustments to their workflow or program structure. Instead, FluidReview was used to create powerful efficiencies.

The scholarship application form was rebuilt using FluidReview’s robust form builder, a fully branded applicant portal was set up where applicants could complete the form and upload documents, and powerful automations were implemented. All of this combined to create an application process that was simple, intuitive and easy to manage.

Not only were applicants able to easily view the application criteria, complete their application form and upload required documents through the centralized applicant portal, but they were able to monitor the status of their application, in real-time, through the entire process. This made sure that applicants were always well informed, confident and up to date.

As the applications were submitted, administrators were able to keep an eye on everything with powerful dashboards. At a glance, they could see how many applications had been completed and how many were still in progress. They no longer had to manually aggregate data and application documents. Time consuming workloads were alleviated, and everything ran smoothly.

Communication was also significantly improved. When applicants reached key stages within the process (for example, when an applicant was designated as a finalist), or important deadlines were approaching, triggers were created to automatically send out personalized email notifications. This made it easier to keep applicants engaged and informed throughout the entire application process. Timely communication was made automatic, and re-assured both applicants and administrators.

The simplicity and efficiency of the new process was appreciated by everyone working on the program.

“As soon as we logged in, we were able to see a chart of which stage each of the applicants were in, and right away, it was an immediate reading of how things were progressing. We were able to ask: is there a reason why the bulk of the applicants haven’t made it through the first round? From that data, we were able to customize the communications to that group, and nudge people along. Having a system that was smart enough to follow up with applicants was great. It made communication so much easier. FluidReview ran like a well-oiled machine.”

The Result: A Smarter, clearer process

With FluidReview, Nelson was able to save weeks of work compared to the previous year. Instead of spending their time on manual, repetitive administrative tasks, staff and administrators were able to focus on growing the program, and it showed. Applications increased by 43%, year over year.

“FluidReview literally changed our entire workflow and cut back the administrative demand by 90% compared to our very first year. It was a huge timesaver for us.”

With the Civic Leadership Scholarship running smoothly, Nelson Education can continue making a positive impact on the lives of promising youths, and help provide them with the opportunity to achieve their full potential.