QuestBridge Limbo

blog5pictureWho wants to play a round of QuestBridge limbo? Any takers? No? You, and your slightly raised eyebrow of skepticism, are probably waiting to find out what QuestBridge limbo is before agreeing to play my game. You’re a smart cookie, and you’ve got me for once because this limbo isn’t the fun game you might remember from your childhood.

I know three other QuestBridge Finalists, and I met several more a few weeks ago, so believe me when I tell you that each finalist has a unique way of handling “limbo.” I couldn’t hardly do their strategies justice, so I’ll stick to telling you mine, but realize that you aren’t crazy if you’ve spent your time differently.

I’d have to say that the highlight of my time during this tricky month-long period is not what I thought it would be. While I wish I could rant about why College Prep Scholars should attend the QuestBridge National College Admissions conferences if they are so lucky to be invited, today is not the day. However, what I will tell you is that the conference connected me to many opportunities.

Almost a year ago, I applied to Colorado College’s Multicultural Open House Fly-In program. Honestly, I’d never been to Colorado, and I thought that the CC (“see-see” is the school’s clever way of branding itself) admissions officer was pretty compelling at the conference, so why not apply to the program? As just a side note, please, please, please never count yourself out of an opportunity because you think you aren’t likely to be “qualified” or “competitive.” You’ll surely regret this; I know I have in many instances.

Anyway, you might not be surprised to learn that when the email came announcing that CC was going to pay for my mom and me to fly to the Open House, I was completely caught off guard. In fact, I nearly regarded the message as spam (you know how it is). But a week later I was on a plane headed to Colorado Springs.

It’s funny to me how things like this happen. We’re so used to surprises being negative ones that we forget that positive surprises exist.

Picking up from the introduction to my last blog (if you haven’t read it, that’s okay), here I was, sitting in the Colorado Springs airport, finishing the last of my supplements for my QuestBridge schools. I clicked submit with a funny thought in my head: “What if I regret this?” Specifically, I’m talking about my fear that I might end up really enjoying CC and therefore end up regretting my decision not to rank CC.

I rode down one of two escalators in the whole airport to find a lovely CC student ambassador, waiting for me and a handful of other “prospies,” or prospective students. This was the beginning to an amazing weekend, if you haven’t already guessed. However, explaining what exactly was so awesome about the weekend is kind of like explaining the plot of Avatar or Inception to a friend—it’s so vivid, yet for some reason, you cannot articulate it. I will say that CC made no attempts to pretend that the school was something that it wasn’t.

The lovely Monica, Jonathan, and Cari, the faces of the team responsible for the Open House weekend, did their best to let the bubbly personality of the CC student body shine through during the weekend. One example of this effort shines through in the college tours. Think back to every college tour you’ve ever been on. Can you remember the breath of your mom or dad or mentor on your neck? Even if your parents are totally relaxed in an anti-tiger parent sort of way, do you not remember thinking about how they perceived the school? See, CC does not allow parents on the campus tour; parents have their own tour guide. I think that this example is a testament to CC’s ideology surrounding the prospective student.

I’ve been on quite a few tours, including Colorado College’s, and I’ll be the first to tell you that they aren’t the best way to picture yourself at a school. I think that their purpose is dubious at best. Talking to real, live students is the best way to see how you’ll fit in at a particular school.

Spending the night with a CC student and his roommate was probably the highlight of my weekend not because of the whole “sleeping” part but because of the conversations that I and several other prospies had with him and his friends. They were brutally honest, and I’d say that I got the most accurate picture of myself at CC after participating in this conversation.

When it came down to it, the bubbly, adventurous attitudes of the typical CC students, the foreknowledge of CC’s pitfalls, the Block Plan (all students at CC have only one four week class at a time, and all of the professors consequently have only one class to focus on), and the school’s partnership with the Columbia University have sold me. And can you just look at this picture?

CC

I seriously owe much of my current sanity regarding my future to the people at Colorado College, so thank you guys! I sincerely mean this.

I deliberately chose my experiences in Colorado Springs because they illustrate the point that low income does not equate to low opportunity. My family can’t afford to just buy some plane tickets to Colorado and spend a few days there, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to do this. One quick story before I go. While I was at the Open House, I met twins who mentioned that they had been to several fly in programs before the one at CC. With a little bit of prying, I found out that this was their TENTH fly in program and they had flown from Carleton to CC. Don’t ask me how their school is okay with all of this time off, but this only further illustrates my point: look for these opportunities and submit an application or shoot off an email to someone who seems important.

Limbo doesn’t have to be a terrifying game, but you can see that I’ve chosen to accelerate my game of limbo; it’s how I have chosen to cope. I’ve immersed myself in my studies and my life. Visiting Colorado College gave me hope that there is something waiting for me after December 1. I cannot say that this “something” will be the same for everyone; in fact, I know that it won’t be. I would, however, urge you to find that something. More on this in my next post, but until then, check out all of the opportunities that schools like CC are willing to offer, and take a risk; it might just surprise you in your inbox a few months from now.

Collin Bentley, 2014 College Match applicant