Last year, Josiah Gouker applied to the College Prep Scholars Program and received a full scholarship to a summer program at the University of Chicago. Over the course of his summer, Josiah got a feel for what it would be like to attend a top-tier university. The program affirmed his interest in public policy, which he will be pursuing at Princeton University next year as a National College Match Scholarship Recipient. We spoke with Josiah to learn more!
Why did you decide to apply to the College Prep Scholars Program?
I first heard about the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program from the high school counseling secretary, who constantly updates other students and me with the latest academic opportunities. At first, I was not sure of the purpose of the program, but after more research into how QuestBridge would be able to help me and how the College Prep Scholars Program would prepare me for the National College Match process, I decided to apply.
Leading up to the summer program, what were you most excited about?
Going a long distance away from my family seemed daunting, but ultimately, I thought it could be freeing. I was excited to go explore a place I had never been before, as I had never strayed too far away from the West Coast. It was thrilling to be able to go to a world-class university to learn from professors and students alike.
What did a typical day look like in the program?
On the weekdays at UChicago, class started at about 9:00 a.m., when we would begin looking over the Constitution and Supreme Court cases, and ran until about 11:00 a.m., when we would leave for lunch. We went back to class around noon to learn about trial advocacy until 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. when we were free to go wherever we wanted. Sometimes, we were knee-deep in homework, so we had to stay back at the dorms or in a study area, but other times, we would be able to go to the “Med” (a little restaurant near the campus), the library, a bookstore, or even out in the city on a trip with a residential assistant or with a group of friends. On the weekends, we studied for tests or were able to go out and explore more of the city (and great pizza).
What was your favorite project that you worked on over the summer?
My favorite project was a mock trial that the American Law and Litigation class performed on the last two days as our final project. It required tons of preparation, from working with witnesses and writing a direct examination to poring over evidence to use in the trial. I worked with my attorney partner and two witnesses to ensure our trial strategy was airtight. It all culminated in the trial day, where from pre-trial motions to the verdict, I faced off against another College Prep Scholar, taking the win for my client (sorry, Stella!).
How did the summer program help you become a stronger college applicant?
This program took my interest in going to a top university up a notch. As I applied to different colleges, I was able to better figure out what it was that I wanted in the schools I applied to. It also strengthened my application as I was able to show my ability to stay afloat in a collegiate environment.
Did the summer program influence your future ambitions? If so, in what ways?
The UChicago program helped me make the decision as to what I want to do “when I grow up.” This class heavily built upon my interest in serving people who need assistance due to matters of the law. The study of the Constitution combined with the simulated stress of a courtroom guided me to my desire of being a civil liberties lawyer, which I will work toward beginning with my study of public policy at Princeton, where I matched.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Before the College Prep Scholars Program, there wasn’t the slightest chance that I would even apply to any of the country’s top colleges. QuestBridge gave me the hope that I was a competitive applicant who did have the opportunity to thrive at a selective college through this preparation for the college application process and the experience I was able to gain at the University of Chicago. If anyone is on the edge of applying to the College Prep Scholars Program, I encourage you to give it your all, because this experience can be as life-changing for you as it was for me.