The Ins and Outs of a Scholarship Ceremony

As college costs rise, many students are turning to grants and scholarships to help pay for their higher education. As a scholarship provider, you may want to give extra recognition to the students for whom you provide a scholarship. One way to do that is a scholarship ceremony, which will simultaneously honor the students and endear your organization to them and their families.

Who Should You Invite?

The guest list for a scholarship ceremony can include a variety of people, but keep in mind that the more you invite, the larger a venue you’ll need. Of course, the scholarship recipients should be in attendance, and each should have at least one family member present. Additionally, you should invite your donors or sponsors who make the scholarship possible.

Why Host a Scholarship Ceremony?

A scholarship ceremony is a perfect way to build connections. By recognizing scholarship recipients, you are encouraging them in their education, as well as planting a seed that could someday develop into great leadership talent for your company. By inviting donors or others who make the scholarship possible, you are showing them what their time and money contribute to. After seeing results, they will be more likely to donate or volunteer in the future. It’s an event that can have a positive impact on your organization and the community in the long run.

When Should You Host?

Another decision is when to have the scholarship ceremony. The ideal time of year will vary depending on your location compared to your recipients’ locale. If you’re a small community organization, it might be more beneficial to have the ceremony a few weeks before schools begin to give all your recipients a chance to attend. Alternatively, if all your funds are going to students at one school, you could aim for an evening or weekend shortly after school begins. Attempt to find a balance between the recipients all being on school grounds and them not being overwhelmed by work or extracurricular activities.

Where Should You Host?

Once the guest list is built, you can determine where to host the scholarship ceremony. You’ll need a venue large enough to host everyone you invite, whether that’s a single scholarship recipient, his or her family, and a few donor representatives or a much larger crowd. The larger your intended group, the larger the venue will need to be.  

You’ll also need to consider the plans for the ceremony. Will it be a brief presentation, a full meal, or something in between? The venue you find will have to be able and willing to accommodate not only your crowd but also your plans.

How Should You Plan It?

As with planning any event, there are several key decisions to make, such as the guest list, the RSVPs, the venue, and what the event will look like. It could be a brief presentation with some light refreshments afterward, allowing the attendees to mingle and network. Giving the recipients and your donors time to connect could be valuable in making everyone feel like a part of the community. A dinner could make all the attendees feel more appreciated for their work and efforts. Plan the ceremony that best accomplishes your purposes and honors the recipients.

Of course, there may be reasons not to host a scholarship ceremony. It could be impractical if your focus is too broad (students across the country, for example), or if it would cost too much money that could otherwise be put towards more scholarships or other beneficial endeavors. Even if you choose not to host a scholarship ceremony, there is value in recognizing students who receive scholarships. This can be done via a newsletter, a website posting, or some other means.

Hosting a scholarship ceremony may take a little planning, but its benefits will ensure an appreciation from recipients and donors alike in building connections and encouraging future participation.

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a Special Projects Editor at Submittable. She also writes and teaches poetry. Connect with her on LinkedIn.