Knowledge Produces Confidence

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Daniel and QuestBridge CEO Ana McCullough on National Quest Day.

[A note from QuestBridge: This is a special guest blog post about the College Prep Scholarship from Daniel Wilson, a Quest Scholar and a member of Quest’s staff!]

My name is Daniel Wilson. When I was told that I was a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar, I had no idea what that really meant. I knew that I was a good student, and I had filled out a CPS application, but what was next? In my case, I was invited to attend a National College Admissions Conference, but I had no idea whether it was worth putting in the effort to go. It turns out that it was definitely worth it. If I had not participated in the College Prep Scholarship program (CPS from now on because it’s sort of a mouthful), I honestly think that my life would be extremely different. The CPS program gave me the knowledge, the confidence, and the hope to later succeed in the college admissions process, and that success has been important in shaping who I am today.

When I was a junior in high school, I had no idea what was involved in applying to college. I knew I wanted to go to a good university because I love knowledge and learning, and I felt that better universities with more resources could provide a better learning experience. I just had no idea what those schools were looking for from an applicant. What do colleges want in an application essay? How should I explain my family’s circumstances? I didn’t know the answer to any of these questions at the time, but by the end of the CPS program, I not only had all of my questions answered but also had been pointed toward the resources I needed to figure out how to overcome any future difficulties in the application process.

Knowledge produces confidence. When I walked out of the conference, I said to myself, “I can do this,” and I wasn’t crazy. I knew what I needed to do to succeed in the college admissions process, and it really doesn’t have to be that scary when you know what you need to do. There’s a lot to process, and there’s a lot to do. College Prep Scholars are chosen, though, because Quest believes they have what it takes. It was great feeling that belief in me, and that’s one of many incredible things that Quest gave me that made me choose to come back and serve on Quest’s staff.

If I’m being completely honest, knowledge and academics were never simply ends for me to pursue as I grew up. To me they were also a means to escape my struggles. I was so stressed out and upset by my family’s situation, and I dreamed of a day when that wasn’t going to always be the case. One of the reasons I didn’t give up was because I felt like I couldn’t. Failure couldn’t be an alternative, but I didn’t know what was possible to aspire for. Quest helped change that. Unfortunately, going to a good university didn’t solve my family’s struggles, but it did give me access to an incredible range of opportunities for me to make a meaningful difference with my life.

For many of you, life has already presented plenty of obstacles to you, and you have had to decide whether it was worth it to pursue your dreams. I commend all of you for not giving up yet. You’ve made the right choice so far. Unfortunately, obstacles in life are still going to come, and it’s still going to be tough, at least for a while. I can honestly tell you that there’s something better out there for all of you. Working with Quest with the College Prep Scholarship program and hopefully more in the future can help you figure out how to do that, as it did for me. Regardless of what you choose to do, though, please don’t give up.