Having been a College Prep Scholar and National College Match Finalist, Daniel Espino (Vassar ’18) knows the ins and outs of applying to QuestBridge. Now a Computer Science major (and potentially Math, too!) at Vassar College, Daniel is sharing his advice with this year’s applicants in hopes that it will put them on the same path to success.
Why did you decide to apply to college through the National College Match?
As a College Prep Scholar, I was invited to attend the Stanford National College Admissions Conference in 2013. There, I learned all about what the National College Match was and I learned about all of the benefits that came with applying through it. I learned that I could apply very early to up to eight schools (it’s now up to 12!) and have a chance at a guaranteed, full, four-year scholarship to any of those schools. Of course, I took that chance and decided to go through the application process.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in applying for the National College Match?
I think the hardest part for me was organizing myself during the application, which made everything else harder and more stressful. The application is pretty long, so if you don’t have a plan, it can be overwhelming (trust me, I know from experience). Though I had a basic understanding of what the application consisted of, my method of approach was to just start and do everything step by step, blindly walking through without knowing how much more I had to go until I reached the end. As I finished one essay, I realized I had another to write, and then another, and then another… and then another.
As the deadline approached, I was stressing out because I still had some forms to fill out and some final editing to do and not much time. Though I did finish, if I had done more research on what I needed to do to complete the application, I definitely would have had better pacing and less stress throughout the entire process.
What advice you would give applicants?
Talk to people about the application! Don’t be afraid to ask questions you might have about the application, even if they are small questions. Find someone who you trust to look over your application while you’re applying and before you submit. There are many people out there who are willing to help if you just reach out to them.
Also, it really helps to have someone to talk to, so please talk to your parents, your classmates, your teachers, your counselor, other applicants, past QuestBridge Scholars, or even reach out to me if you have exhausted your options! Like I said before, it’s a big application and it can be confusing at times, so ask your questions and get second opinions on your essays! On the topic of essays though, don’t forget that it’s your essay, so if you get a recommendation from someone and you don’t like it, don’t change it! It should be your voice that shines through, so don’t be afraid to turn down someone else’s opinion.
Anything else to add?
The QuestBridge application gives you a lot of room to express yourself and the context in which you’ve grown up — space that you wouldn’t have with a different application. Take advantage of it and use it to explain everything! Be sure to mention if you’ve had any other responsibility or unusual circumstance, such as working an after-school job or taking care of a sibling. If you don’t say it, there’s no way for QuestBridge and the schools to know what you’ve been through, so be clear and vocal about your experiences!