A Story of Stress, Grace, and Hope

suhe_post1Once upon a time, I was stressed out.

It was the fall of my junior year in high school, the time where my classmates were discussing which colleges they were planning on applying to, and I had no idea if I was even going to go to college. As a student from a low-income family, I was particularly worried about the expense. I was considering getting a job straight out of high school. Then I told my friend, Grace, about everything that was worrying me after school one day. She gave me a pensive look and said, “Why don’t you apply to QuestBridge? It’s a full four-year scholarship for low-income students. College is a possibility.” At that point, all of my worries shifted. I went from worrying over what job to apply for to worrying over whether I wanted to apply to Stanford, Vassar, or Wesleyan.

After that, Grace and I researched and worked on our applications together weekend after weekend well into our senior year until we were both accepted as College Prep Scholars, and subsequently as College Match Finalists. As a College Prep Scholar, I was fortunate enough to be able to road-trip with my cousin to the QuestBridge College Admissions Conference at Northwestern University and learn more about the Quest colleges from admissions officers. I relayed information from the conference to Grace, and together we decided that we would rank colleges when we applied for the College Match. We wrote essay after essay, traded and reviewed and re-edited, then repeated the process with our other friends and teachers up until the last minute when we submitted our applications and hoped for the best. It was stressful, but we pulled through.

When I found out that I was a College Match Finalist, I was nervously excited. Since I had ranked colleges, I had to check which of them required extra submissions and complete them within the two week deadline. Depending on the college, this became a bit pricey as I submitted my ACT and SAT scores, high school transcript, and Common App to my ranked schools. I also had the option of rearranging my ranked schools as I pored over stacks of informational pamphlets at the last minute. Double-checking the rankings was imperative since there was a very real possibility that I could end up at any of my six schools for the next four years of my life.

A month later, I got my Match letter telling me I was accepted at my second ranked school, Vassar College. Fast forward ten more months and every morning that I wake up to a beautiful view of the Vassar campus. I’m thankful and content that I stuck through the application process and was chosen to attend this school.

Zuheily Quinones, Quest Scholar, Vassar ’18