Counselor Starter Guide: How to Use Going Merry’s Scholarship Platform

You’re a counselor and have signed up to use Going Merry to help your students navigate how to pay for college, by applying for government financial aid and private “outside” scholarships.

But where do you start? In this guide, we’ll go step by step, showing you screenshots of where you can find everything you need.

Let’s dive in!

Getting started: Take the website tour

When you first sign up, you’ll land on your “Home” page, which will have a handy “Getting started” guide up top. We recommend you begin with the bright pink button in the middle: “Take a tour.” 

Going Merry counselor portal - Getting started box
Take the website tour to get acquainted with the Going Merry website.

This will guide you through much of the website, with handy tooltips, like so: 

If you accidentally X out this “Getting started” panel – Don’t worry! You can still access the website tour by scrolling to the bottom of the page and hitting the green “Take the tour” button: 

Going Merry counselor refresher - Bottom of dashboard
Need to find a link to the tour again? Scroll down to the bottom of your “Home” page.

The other two important things to do when you’re just getting started are: 

  1. Invite your students (more on that later!)
  2. Join an optional webinar demo (schedule it here), given by our co-founder Charlie Maynard

Consult your checklist 

When in doubt, you can consult your Counselor Checklist (also under “Home”), which will give you a sense of what you should do next. When you’re done with something, click the item and it’ll get crossed out. In this example, this counselor has already invited their students, so that item is marked as completed: 

Use your counselor checklist, to keep track of how Going Merry can help!

Now, we’ll go over each of those items in the checklist and how to complete them. 

1. Invite your students

To help your students find and apply to scholarships and financial aid, invite them to Going Merry. Just hit the “Invite students” menu item on the left side. 

There are 3 easy ways you can invite students: 

  1. Add your students’ emails (by copying and pasting, or by importing from your email contacts), and we will send them an email invitation.
  2. Share your personalized link with students– by adding it to a handout, emailing, or text messaging your students. 
  3. Use our email template and send the email yourself. 

After this, you’ll be able to “Track student progress” (also on the left menu) to see a full list of students at your school who have signed up for Going Merry. For each student:

  • You’ll see many scholarship applications they’ve started (Draft) or completed (Submitted). 
  • You can upload transcripts or recommendation letters for them. (Don’t worry, students will not be able to see the contents of your recommendation letter, only that you have uploaded one.)
Going Merry student stats - Counselor dashboard
View your students’ stats, and upload documents for them.

2. Track your students’ FAFSA® progress.

The FAFSA® is a critical step for your students to get help paying for college, and we know it can be a lot of work to follow up with each of them (and their parents) to answer questions, ensure they’re meeting deadlines, and in some cases, to ensure they complete it as a graduation requirement.

Your free counselor account includes:

  • real-time, detailed FAFSA® data dashboards with reporting down to the individual student;
  • a suite of templates and tips (like flyer templates to post in senior hallways, ready-made PPT presentations for FAFSA® nights/workshops, financial aid lesson plans, etc.) for you to use; and
  • a financial aid appeal letter generator to walk you through assisting your student with appealing their financial aid offer for more money (your students have access to this in their accounts, too!).

3. Use the free resource library

On the checklist, you’ll see links to a scholarship websites flyer and counselor lesson plans. These and other resources are available under “Counselor Resources.” You’ll see: 

  • Printable (or email-able) handouts
  • Lesson plans and accompanying student worksheets
  • Email templates for students and parents
  • Blog articles on all kinds of topics, including financial aid, scholarship essays, and more
Counselor resource hub for scholarships and financial aid handouts and lesson plans
Counselor resource hub with handouts, lesson plans, and articles

4. Highlight scholarships on your school website

You can showcase scholarships on your website by adding a live-updating scholarships table. We’ve made this super easy to do. Just hit the “Add scholarships table” link on the left menu. It’ll take you here:

Scholarships table widget - How to add scholarships to your high school website
How to add a live-updating scholarships table to your website in just 2 steps!

On this page, select your school color to customize the widget, preview what the widget would look like on desktop and mobile, and then copy and paste the widget code to send to your school’s IT team. Your IT team will know how to add it to your website. (It’s literally copying and pasting into the website code, so it should take 5 minutes.)

Here’s what it looks like on one school’s website:

Ashbrook High School - Going Merry scholarships table

5. Browse the available scholarships

You can search for scholarships (type in at least 3 letters in the search bar to populate results), browse scholarships available for students to apply for, or filter scholarships by items like deadline, award amount, and number of recipients in the “Scholarships” tab.

Search for scholarships

What you see in the “Scholarships” tab is more or less what students see in their Going Merry dashboard. There are two main differences: 

  1. When signing up, students will be asked a bunch of questions (like their class year, GPA, and ethnicity) to fill out a “profile” that we will use to match them to scholarships they are eligible for. Therefore, while you will see a list of all kinds of scholarships, students will only see scholarships matched to their specific profile. 
  2. Students will see a “Start Application” button on the scholarship pages (if they’re eligible to apply), while you as a counselor will see the “Ineligible to Apply” button.

You can email links to particular scholarships (or just print them out!) to suggest any you think would particularly suit a certain student. Or you might just add “good” scholarships to a spreadsheet that you circulate. 

To get the scholarship page’s link, don’t just use the URL you see (as this is only accessible to students who have signed in to their Going Merry accounts). You can instead get the public link in one of two ways:

First, if you find a scholarship from browsing, and click on it to get onto the preview page, just hit the “Copy link” button on the right, as shown here:

Or second, if you arrive on the scholarship detail page, then you can find the public link right below the name, award amount, and deadline, as shown here:

Share public scholarship URL

6. Digitize your school’s scholarships program

Did you know you can bring your local school/district scholarship program online, for free? This allows your students to find and apply for scholarships all in one place. If you’d like, you can even review your applications online, rate them, and alert winners–all using our “scholarship administrator” portal.

You can learn more about hosting your local scholarships on Going Merry here. Or want a case study of how this works? Check out the wonders it’s done for Arcadia High School in California.

What does it look like for a student? 

We’ve written this separate article (with lots of helpful screenshots too!) so you can also see what it looks like from the student’s point of view, from sign up through to scholarship application submission. 

Ready to get started with Going Merry as a counselor?

OK, so you’ve seen the dashboard, step-by-step, from top to bottom. Now, it’s your turn! Take your dashboard for a spin so you can help students find and apply for scholarships. We’re all about making the scholarship application process easier for everyone involved, especially counselors like you.

If you’re not signed up yet, you can register for your free counselor account here. Get started today to help set up your students for success.

Kelly Lamano

Ready to find scholarships that are a match for you?