The OpenWater Blog


Build a Scholarship Application in 15 Minutes

Published August 30, 2022 in Leadership


Hey everyone. This is Kunal Johar again, CTO of open water. And today I’m gonna walk through how we can build a scholarship program. That’s taken through a manual process today into open water in just about 15 minutes. Couple of months ago, I recorded a video that I entitled. Digital transformation starts small.

One person can make a difference and I want to ask today, can one person really make a big difference? So let’s take a look at a sample scholarship. To get today’s application form. I just went to Google Titan sample scholarship. I went through the search results and I found this scholarship form from Lehman college.

So you could see here, we asked for some name, address, essay, some information, some more information, and then a longer essay along with a, a self certification. So when I go back to the question of can one person make a difference? I wonder what it’s like receiving a nomination that comes through a PDF like this.

For example, if someone. It fills out the major field. What if they just put in something like yes, minor? No, that might be very frustrating for the person filling this out or maybe in the email they put in their phone number. That could be very annoying as well. So I do believe that if one person can help out take these PDF forms for their organization and convert them into online forms, they can help save their colleagues a decent amount of time.

So I go back and I ask the question, can one person make a difference? And I want to say, let’s find out, let’s see how long it takes for one person to convert this form into open water. In my previous videos, I showed you how you could take a template and open water and add it in just about 10 seconds today.

We’re gonna take it a little bit differently. We’re gonna build this scholarship application form step by step together. Right here, we are in open water in my second monitor, I have the PDF that I had just shown you this one right here, and I’m gonna follow along and I’m gonna build this step by step and you can see today.

We’re gonna start from scratch. Let’s give this program a name. General scholarship location form.

I can head over to the forum builder and I can begin building out the form.

Now let’s go through it slowly and. Take a look at some of the important sections. All right, let’s go page by page and just take a look as to what I’ve done. So when I set up the form, the first thing I did was I set the application name, field to name. I set it to defaulting, to the name of the logged in user.

I then set the first text area to first name and the second text area to last name. Uh, this field sometimes can be collapsed into one field where we’re just collecting name. This is great. If we’re collecting. Organizational information like a company name or if it’s a project, the name of the project, but when it comes to individuals, it’s helpful to have this as two different text fields with the first name and the last name denoted separately.

I can see here, this asterisks here, red, I have said that this field should be required. Um, there are other things I can do. I can set a field to be hidden from the judges. This is when we talk about the review step, which we’ll cover next. Also I can have an admin only field by hiding it from applicants and from judges.

If I wanted to, as I’ll show you, as we get to the last page of the forum. Um, there are certain field types like email address. We have, uh, dropdown fields and radio fields that allow us to put a dependent field. So here, if I choose other, I can add what that other should be. And I went ahead and set those fields to be required under the nationality dropdown.

You see, I have the prefill option. I could quickly fill us states in this case, I’ve chosen countries. Let’s take a look at the next page on the next page. Uh, we have the large text area and here we are setting the word count to 250. I could actually make it a smaller text area. Uh, in this case, medium, small.

I can also have special characters with what you see is what you get. I’ve set a required field count, and I’ve also set it to be a maximum of 250 words. Next up we see our table fields. These can be used to collect bunch of information. If I go here, you’ll see. Ask for up to three in our configuration, I set it up to 10.

Uh, I could have gone a little bit more complex as I set these up. Um, I just set it up so that we captured the contact info as a text field, but we could have gone a little bit crazy. We could have collected an email. We could have collected a phone number. We could have also had a radio field that says, you know, contact info, um, email phone.

And then I could have set these as dependent fields. So if I, um, filled out email, I could then say, okay, now give me your email and then I’ll set that to required. Similarly, if you gave me the phone number, I would then have a dependent field, but just for sake of simplicity, I didn’t add that into our test case here.

So table field is cool. We can capture as much information as we want. We could set a maximum, we could set a minimum by making it required, and then we could render the table. You can see here. I used the copy feature to quickly copy over. You know, whatever I had done for the previous table to then build out the second table, their table and so forth, uh, checkbox fields also have the option of having dependent fields.

So if I chose general scholarships, for example, maybe I would want to add more information, but if we go back to the form here, you’ll see, I didn’t really know a whole lot more with regards to what it meant. If I checked off one of. All right, moving on to the next page of the form. Uh, we had the personal statement.

You could see the personal statement. I had a thousand words. Let me go ahead and set that as required. And then here it’s a much longer section we could, of course accept, have accepted a file upload. If we wanted to, we could have had people upload a file with their personal statement. And then in their permitted extensions, we could have said we only want, you know, word docs.

So open water does accept file uploads. And then finally we have the, um, signature block. This is where the person could sign with their mouse or their finger for their certification. On the last page of the form, I called it admin only this covers this four office use only. And you’ll see that I’ve added two fields here, uh, that are listed as hide from applicants and hide from judges.

This is helpful when a submission comes in the office might wanna add some information, um, as it, as it comes in. All right, let’s go ahead. And, um, let’s set up the review section. Yeah, actually, before I set up the review section one other thing, it’s under personal statement. This would be a great area. If there is a letter of reference, we have a feature where you can request a letter of reference, it could be required.

Um, and then the way the reference works is you can configure the email that will go out to the person, writing the reference like, Hey dear instructor, I am applying for a such and such scholarship. Please click here to submit your reference. The applicant get an email when the reference is completed, we can also then configure the fields that the referee should fill out.

Could just be a text field. As we have here. It could be a long and drawn out form. So our training does cover how you could build the letter of reference, start to finish. But I want the highlight that this is a great area where it could be added. A lot of scholarships have letters of reference. All right, continuing along to our evaluation form, these will be the questions.

That we will ask. So how well did the applicant perform or does this scholarship deserve a merit award? Okay. So here we can build whatever questions we want. In this case. I have a list field. I can have a numeric field. Let’s call this. No, maybe yes. So a score of one will give this applicant. A score of no.

Will give this applicant a one score of, yes, we’ll give this applicant a three. We can also multiply the score. This is if we have multiple questions, maybe some questions are worth more than others. Let’s go ahead and also add a free text question, call it comments. We’ll call it a type free text and we won’t make it required.

Excellent. So we’ve now built out the evaluation score. Other things we can do. We could set up a confirmation page. We could set up confirmation emails so that the scholarship recipient knows that the, that the item has been received. We can also, uh, set up a mode that requires approval. So as a submission comes in, maybe we want approved by a staff member.

Maybe that staff member should go ahead and add the GPA before it goes to judges. With regards to judges, we have a configuration called the evaluation layout. This is what the judges see. I’ll take, I’ll show you what it looks like with no configuration. The one thing that most people do onto the configuration is they might wanna hide feels from judges.

If we wanted to do that, we can just choose hide fuel from judges. Makes it a little bit more fair. All right, let’s go ahead and let’s submit a test entry. So to do that, we go back to round settings, uh, open and close dates. Let’s open it up. Also open up the judging while we’re at it. Press save.

Here we go. Here’s a general scholarship application form. Just wanna compare it side by side to the PDF name, address, phone number and so forth. Here we have name, address, phone number. You can see I’ve chosen to move the honors and distinctions onto page two. And I’ve chosen to set the personal statement essay here, and I’ll have that letter of reference we talked about.

Um, so there you have it very quickly. We have built this form. I will go ahead and I will submit a test entry.

All right. I’ve submitted my entry. Let’s take a look. Now I’ll add myself back as a judge.

Fresh, take a look at what it’s like as a judge. And now I can review what was submitted

with a no, maybe yes. Deserves a scholarship.

So in a real world situation, you’ll have a lot of different scholarship entries. You’ll have a handful of judges. They’ll all do their review. Once you have the review, open water will tabulate that information. Let’s take a look at that. Here we are. Back on the open water admin side, I can go to tools, scores, and results.

Go to judging results here. It will show me all the scholarships. It’ll take the average score that all the judges have provided. Here we only have one entry. Um, I can go ahead. I can check that entry off. I can mark it as winner. And now I will know that that person should be a scholarship recipient. All this information can be exported after getting all the data into finances, hands, and, you know, getting the exports out of the way.

The final step is typically notifying the scholarship recipients. So let’s take a look and open water, how that might be done. So here we are, I will go to tools. Email wizard. And you can see here, we have a whole bunch of canned emails. I can also build a new email from a scratch. In this case, I want to pick the applicants who are winners.

I can go ahead and load up that email it’s it’s preconfigured. I can build out a template and then I can send that email to everyone that has received their scholarship. So congratulations. Scholarship winner. Maybe I wanna include their name

here. I have their name

and I can take a look at a preview. Here we go. And of course, my name is system as in system admin. So I can build an email. I can send it right away or I could schedule to send it into the future. Thanks for following along open water is completely free to learn. If you are running a scholarship program and your organization is not sure if open water is a right fit, please visit

You can use our free sandbox. Build out the form. I just built out show your organization. Hopefully we could save you a lot of time. I’ll conclude by asking the question. Can one person make a difference here in about 10 or 15 minutes? I have built out a complete application form with a review cycle and I’ve allowed other people to submit in a way that will make collecting information a whole lot smoother.

Thank you.

Kunal Johar

Kunal Johar is the OpenWater platform evangelist. He currently manages our development teams and enjoys diving into the fray. Find him in our community chat room.

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