E-Harmony of Your Education: What to Do as a QB Finalist

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Holy mother of a Smithsonian Museum…

YOU’RE A QUESTBRIDGE FINALIST!!

Yay!!

But what exactly does this mean?

As a Quest Bridge Finalist, you are now eligible to send your application (along with some additional required materials, supplements and perhaps the Common Application for some schools) to participate in the QuestBridge College Match process, all for FREE dollars — my favorite price.

The hard part however (other than refining your essays and making them AWESOME) is deciding which schools to rank and which to apply to for Regular Decision, since:

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(Unless one is okay with spending all of winter break, including Christmas and 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, in front of a computer typing faster than Santa eating cookies and leaving presents (apparently for you he will be leaving coal since you’re a procrastinator!!!).)

Ahem – anyways…

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My suitemate Darby (a fellow Questie) and I consider the College Match Process (and the college application process as a whole, in some aspects) much like Friendsy. Friendsy is a college dating site, similar to eHarmony, where you can express your interest to other students and only learn who they are when they express a similar interest to you. In a nutshell, I have basically described the QB College Match Process. After ranking your 8 colleges, the respective colleges will also begin choosing students. Let’s say your #2 choice and your #3 choice are interested in accepting you with a guaranteed College Match scholarship. You will only be notified of #2’s interest in you and will have no idea what response #3 through #8 have given you. With this said, your rankings are very important, since most QB schools are binding (with the exception of MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale). So how do you begin to narrow down the list of potential bachelors?

  1. Mingle / Browse. As a finalist, you have many options and alternatives so don’t be afraid to look at schools you first thought would not fit you at all. Do your research online (QuestBridge and the College Board have great websites), and make a diagram or a pros and cons list. Widen your perspective and consider all aspects of a school without letting your initial prejudices of the school blur your perception. For example, I was initially wary of Yale’s small engineering department but later found that this was great for having individualized attention as well as more opportunities (less competition) for grants and research opportunities.
  1. First Date. If possible, try to take a visit to the school, preferably not during a break, so you can get a feel for the environment and people, just a like a first date. If the first impression is wrong, you might not want to consider a second date. This place will be your home for the next four years. You want it to feel right because you’re looking for a long-term relationship. Take notes, not just of the information, but how you feel on campus. Go walk around and explore by yourself and take pictures to remember. These might be helpful when writing those “Why (insert college name)” essays. But also, don’t judge a book by its cover. I initially hated Yale only because we visited at the dead of winter, when the school was closed off and not a soul roamed the campus except for ignorant Californians (aka me). I went back home with not one brochure or any information but instead what I thought was first-degree frostbite.
  1. Similar Interests? Make sure the school that you are going to offers the major that you are interested in and/or has a strong program for your interests. Also, if you are not sure what major you are interested in, choose a school that has a variety. What made me lean towards larger research institutions rather than small liberal arts schools was that they have many more course offerings and majors to choose from (perfect for indecisive students like me). Then again, many smaller schools provide much more attention for students who are confused with their educational path. Again, Pros and Cons lists can be very helpful when comparing different schools.
  1. Meet the Wing Men. If possible, talk to the students from different colleges (the QuestBridge Facebook page would be great for this). Ask them why you should consider their school, how the classes are, what is the environment like for minorities, and if the is food edible. All important questions.
  2. Nobody’s Perfect. Nonetheless, my favorite question would have to be: What’s your least favorite part of your school? Even though every single QB school is amazing, there is no perfect school that will leave your dream check-list completely checked off — but that’s okay. Just as colleges should not expect applicants to be perfect, you should not expect a college to be your perfect dream school. Just as in relationships, flaws are part of the package you should be expecting.

Overall, finding that one right college takes a lot. It takes time, effort, commitment, blood, sweat, tears, an arm, a leg, and a half brother… okay maybe not THAT much. Nonetheless, by doing your research, you can find that almost perfect match.

But before you do that, celebrate! Take a break or a cookie, you deserve it. 🙂

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Cheesy Jokes? Arguments? Free Cookies? Email me at christina.chen@yale.edu and send me your cookies… or at least pictures of your cookies.

Christina Chen, Quest Scholar, Yale ’18