Admissions Officer Insight: How High School Juniors Can Get a Head Start

Jennifer Gargano
Jenni Gargano, Dartmouth College, Assistant Director of Admissions

In your junior year of high school, it’s probably hard to escape the reality that you’ll be applying to college in the coming months. You’re probably already thinking about all the different parts of your application, from crafting your story through the personal statements to keeping your grades up in your challenging classes, on top of trying to enjoy your final year and a half as a high school student with your family and friends.

As an admissions officer at Dartmouth, I know we ask you to do a lot throughout the college application process – that’s why I want to share how the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program can help you on your journey. When I was a junior in high school (a long, long time ago, I know), I was a College Prep Scholar myself and attended the National College Admissions Conference at Stanford. Please believe me when I say that this opportunity was one of the most formative in my college search journey. My hope is that you could gain as much or even more than I did when I was in your shoes – and so I encourage you to give the application a shot to see what might happen.

Here, I’ve listed the top three ways the College Prep Scholars Program and application could give you a head start in applying to colleges in your senior year:
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Finally Finding My Niche at a National College Admissions Conference

20160109_125602If someone ever looked at my notebooks from school, it was easy to tell that I wanted to go to college. Stickers ranging from “I love UC Berkeley” to “Future Harvard Student” were plastered on the covers, and my extensive college list was on at least one page of each of my notebooks. However, the closer I got to the end of my junior year, the smaller the list would get, until the point where I did not find anywhere I wanted to go. Sure, some of these schools looked great on paper, but I could not find a place I could call “home.” Was I being too pessimistic? Why didn’t I like the schools everyone wanted to go to? With only a summer left to finalize my college list, I pondered on millions of these questions, wondering if I would ever find “the one.” It wasn’t until I attended the National College Admissions Conference at Stanford that I discovered the place I would fit in.
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Q&A with Summer Program Scholarship Recipient Josiah Gouker

Josiah-PrincetonLast year, Josiah Gouker applied to the College Prep Scholars Program and received a full scholarship to a summer program at the University of Chicago. Over the course of his summer, Josiah got a feel for what it would be like to attend a top-tier university. The program affirmed his interest in public policy, which he will be pursuing at Princeton University next year as a National College Match Scholarship Recipient. We spoke with Josiah to learn more!

Why did you decide to apply to the College Prep Scholars Program?

I first heard about the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program from the high school counseling secretary, who constantly updates other students and me with the latest academic opportunities. At first, I was not sure of the purpose of the program, but after more research into how QuestBridge would be able to help me and how the College Prep Scholars Program would prepare me for the National College Match process, I decided to apply.

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Why should I apply to be a 2018 College Prep Scholar?

If you’re a junior in high school, the reality of applying to college may be starting to sink in. Standardized tests. Teacher recommendations. Essays. Transcripts. The list goes on! But instead of feeling overwhelmed by those things, what if you had a head start? The College Prep Scholars Program can give you just that.

We could go on about the program’s many awards and opportunities (all-expense-paid campus visits, anyone?), but we thought you should hear straight from College Prep Scholars themselves:

Emmanual-Dartmouth“Getting accepted to the College Prep Scholars Program boosted my confidence because I realized that someone else believes that I am a competitive applicant. As a College Prep Scholar, I learned tips on how to improve my writing skills and how I can use my story to strengthen my college application.

Emmanuel S., 2017 College Prep Scholar, Dartmouth ’22

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Dear QB: How do I show a college that I’m still interested?

DearQBAs you are finishing your Regular Decision Requirements, you may be wondering what you can do to further stand out as an applicant. One way is to stay engaged with the colleges to which you’re applying. This is especially important if you ranked schools and submitted all of your materials to them in November. Each college is unique, but here are a few ways you can stay in touch with the colleges on your list:

1. Submit your midyear report and financial aid materials on time.

The midyear report and financial aid materials are likely the last few materials you need to submit for your applications to be considered complete. Make a good last impression! Continue reading

Dear QB: How do I fight senioritis?

DearQBSen·ior·i·tis (noun)

A supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.

If you’re a high school senior, you have likely been forewarned by your counselor, teachers, or parents about “senioritis.” Graduation is now less than six months away, and it can be tempting to slip into a senioritis state of mind. But now — more than ever! — it’s important to stay on track. To make this part easier on you, we’ve compiled our tips to help you fight senioritis: Continue reading

College Interview Tips (From an Introvert Who Dreads Them)

When college interview season rolled around a couple years ago, I naturally began to panic. I could not remember a time when I ever had to talk for an hour about myself with a college-graduated adult. Surely the opportunities to do so were presented to me several times in my life, but being the introverted person I am, I mistakenly never took them. Looking back now, I realized that if someone just reassured me with a couple of tips, I would have been less stressed. And so here are some things I wish I knew before I went to my interviews:

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Admissions Officer Insight: Tips for Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Regular Decision

Ryan Ricciardi, Bowdoin College, Associate Dean of Admissions

The world is your oyster! This is an exciting time of the holiday season as you finalize your early and regular decision applications to the colleges on your list. The even better part? You’ve already finished 90 percent of the work. You wrote your essays, contacted teachers for letters of recommendation, took your exams, and filled out financial aid information. That’s a ton of work to celebrate. Think about the pieces of applying to and going to college that are important to you: size, location, academics, test optional, etc. The QuestBridge partners are all different institutions that offer different opportunities—and we are all excited to admit more QuestBridge Scholars in early and regular application rounds and to learn more about you. It’s a chance for you to let us know that you’re as interested in us as we are in you. Continue reading

A Look Back on 2017 Match Stories…

This year’s National College Match was the biggest yet, with 5,759 students selected as Finalists and 918 students matched with our college partners! These record-breaking numbers mean that more students than ever before have been awarded full four-year scholarships. Their stories always inspire and amaze us, and as we look back at the year, we wanted to share some reactions from recently matched students. Continue reading