Finally Finding My Niche at a National College Admissions Conference

20160109_125602If someone ever looked at my notebooks from school, it was easy to tell that I wanted to go to college. Stickers ranging from “I love UC Berkeley” to “Future Harvard Student” were plastered on the covers, and my extensive college list was on at least one page of each of my notebooks. However, the closer I got to the end of my junior year, the smaller the list would get, until the point where I did not find anywhere I wanted to go. Sure, some of these schools looked great on paper, but I could not find a place I could call “home.” Was I being too pessimistic? Why didn’t I like the schools everyone wanted to go to? With only a summer left to finalize my college list, I pondered on millions of these questions, wondering if I would ever find “the one.” It wasn’t until I attended the National College Admissions Conference at Stanford that I discovered the place I would fit in.

When I found out I had been chosen as a College Prep Scholar, I couldn’t believe QuestBridge had actually chosen me. I had already met some of the other applicants and their stories were incredible. From facing adversity to accomplishing great things, I didn’t view myself as special as they were. Nonetheless, being named a College Prep Scholar allowed me to see that my accomplishments were just as worthy as theirs, that my story was just as interesting as theirs. I was invited to the National College Admissions Conference, and although I didn’t plan on going because a plane ticket from Los Angeles to San Jose could get expensive, my CTY Scholars advisor made the arrangement for me to go. Once I arrived, I could already hear the amazing stories the other College Prep Scholars had to tell and just listening to their stories motivated me to keep striving to go to college because I wanted to be surrounded by individuals like them.

At the conference, I learned more about how to become a successful college applicant. The lesson I valued the most was learning to be myself. I often found myself trying to copy the style of a certain personal statement as I attempted to write the first draft of mine. However, I learned that maybe being my genuine, strong, and often awkward self would allow me to attend a top school. It was emphasized various times during the day that colleges wanted a unique individual, not the copy of someone else. Now that I knew I wanted to showcase the real me, it was time to find the place that would allow for me to blossom as a student and as an individual.

My favorite part of the conference was the college fair, an opportunity for College Prep Scholars to personally interact with admissions representatives from the college partners. I learned about schools I had never heard of but that I soon fell in love with. I learned that I wanted to attend a small liberal arts school, and many schools like Swarthmore and Williams soon made my list.

As I navigated through the tables, I read a banner that I thought said “Harvard College.” No, Harvard is not a college partner, instead it was Haverford College. Sure, it might have been accident that I ended up at that table, but it has by far been the best mistake I’ve ever made. I learned that Haverford College was a top-notch liberal arts college that not only had strong academics, but also had a strong and enthusiastic student body. The admissions counselor demonstrated that Haverford would be a place where I could grow as a student and an individual. I was told that I could apply for a fly-in visit to Haverford, and I was chosen to attend. It was a life-changing experience because I finally found my niche, my home, thanks to the National College Admissions Conference.

– Leslie Luqueno, Haverford ’20