Admissions Officer Insight: Top Three Reasons to Attend a National College Admissions Conference!

Jazzmin Estebane, Pomona College, Admissions Officer
Jazzmin Estebane, Pomona College, Admissions Officer

Every summer QuestBridge hosts their National College Admissions Conferences for College Prep Scholars, giving students and parents a chance to learn more about the QuestBridge National College Match process and college applications. Here are the top 3 reasons (and one bonus!) I think you should attend a National College Admissions Conference in-person.

1. Visit a college campus.

Whether it’s during high school visits in the fall, at college fairs, or in our office, one of the most frequent topics of conversation I have with students is college fit. During the National College Admissions Conference, you’ll not only have a chance to sit down with real admissions officers and discuss college fit, you’ll get to see how questions of fit work while you visit a college campus in-person. Even if you have a dream school or know exactly what type of school you want to attend, visiting a campus can give you a better idea of what you do (and don’t) want. Fundamental differences like size of a college might not feel the way you think they will if you haven’t seen them in action on a real campus. Visiting a college allows you to experience many of the variables involved in a college search: location, size, academic programs, etc. so you can make a decision based on your actual experiences rather than how you think you’ll experience them.

2. Discover new colleges (and new things about those you already know)!

One of the best tools QuestBridge provides students is exposure to a range of incredible colleges all across the country. During the conference’s college fair, try to speak with representatives from QuestBridge’s 38 college partners and learn more about colleges you might never have considered. During a college fair, no question is too big or too small. I’ve spoken to students who know Pomona well and have detailed questions, as well as students who have never heard of us before. Whether you’re talking to an admissions officer from a college you’ve never heard of or one that you’ve spent countless nights researching online (we’ve all been there), you’ll have the opportunity to ask the questions that are important to you. You might find that there are things you didn’t consider or know about your favorite schools, or even find a new school that turns out to be a great option.

3. Demystify the college essay.

One of the most intimidating parts of the college application process is the college essay. Believe me when I say that every admissions officer is aware of how difficult students find this aspect of the application. The essay is, however, one of the most useful tools you have to make a lasting impression.

During their National Admissions Conferences, QuestBridge works to demystify the process for students. This doesn’t just mean breaking down the question and brainstorming essay ideas (although that’s a part of it too!). It also means sitting down in a room with admissions officers and learning more about how they read an essay and what they look for. We know there’s no one strategy for a great college essay, but with the help of the admissions officers guiding the workshop, you can navigate the meaning behind essay questions and learn how to tell your story. For those of you who are reviewing essay questions and can’t imagine what you would write or how you can communicate your story, the National College Admissions Conference provides a great way to bust through that writer’s block!

Bonus: Meet the QB Community!

While this bonus reason might not be as relevant to your college search or your college application, it has one of the most lasting impacts. During your National College Admissions Conference, you’ll meet not only admissions officers and QuestBridge staff, but also fellow College Prep Scholars and current QuestBridge Scholars. These students are a part of your QuestBridge community and they are an incredible resource. During the next few months you and the other College Prep Scholars will be going through the same process; you’ll share late nights, frustrations over essays, and ecstatic decisions. Our current QuestBridge Scholars can not only sympathize, but have their own highs and lows (and incredible perspectives) to share as low-income and/or first-generation college students. These conferences give you a chance to connect with other students, share information, get to know each other, and start building the communities that will guide you throughout your time in college (and beyond—some of my best friends are fellow Questies)!

– by Jazzmin Estebane, Admissions Officer, Pomona College