Q&A with a College Prep Scholar & QuestBridge Scholar – Julybeth Murillo

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Since attending the National College Admissions Conference at Stanford in 2015, Julybeth Murillo has returned to the conference as a Group Leader to share her advice with the next generation of QuestBridge Scholars. We chatted with Julybeth to hear her perspective:

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am Julybeth Murillo, and I am currently attending Emory University as an upcoming junior studying Sociology and Spanish. I was a College Prep Scholar in 2015 and attended the Stanford National College Admissions Conference. The conference gave me the confidence to apply to top-tier colleges and universities and have an open mindset. I did not match to Emory, but got in through QuestBridge Regular Decision.

Based on your experience applying to college through QuestBridge, do you have any advice for students heading into the National College Match?

Start as soon as possible and give yourself time to breathe! The sooner you start the more time you have to edit and also consult your teachers or counselors for help and advice. It is a lengthy application, and even if you do not plan on starting right away, take a look and see what has to be done so that you can plan ahead. It is not an application that can be done in one sitting, and your essays should be well thought out. Remember that these are colleges and universities that read thousands of applications and you want to complete the application as best you can. When you feel overwhelmed writing the essays, take a break, and, if possible, sleep on it. You should enjoy your summer and treat yo’ self (a quote that I live by).

Do you have any tips for students who are just starting to research colleges?

As a first-generation low-income student I did not have family or friends to give me advice, so I had to do a lot of research on my own and refer to websites like QuestBridge. I found myself liking a lot of colleges and wanted to apply to as many as I could but soon realized that they did not all fit me. Find colleges or universities that have your academic interests. Yes, people change their majors, and I went into Emory thinking I wanted to be pre-med. Emory has a vast array of majors, and it gave me room to explore before choosing my major. If you are interested in a particular major or field then compare and contrast the schools that do offer it and exclude those that do not. Do not forgot about the location! I love sunny California, and I could not see myself in a school in the North East facing harsh winter weather. Someone once told me that if I had an opportunity I should visit all the schools I applied to and sit down on a bench or somewhere on campus for 30 minutes and try to imagine myself there. I could not do this at every school but I was able to do it at a few that I wanted to apply to and found my list of potential schools drop. If you cannot visit the schools then look at their websites and pictures or find a 360-degree virtual tour and try to envision yourself there.

Think back to when you were applying to college … which three words would you use to describe your experience applying to QuestBridge in your senior year of high school?

Exciting, challenging, doubtful. I was excited about my future and the potential to attend college with a full-ride as the first in my family. It was a dream that seemed more attainable as I began the application process and researched colleges. It was a challenging process that was made easier with the help of QuestBridge and my friends that I met at the Stanford conference who were also applying to QuestBridge. As the application process was ending I began to doubt if I would be accepted to any schools, and with the support of my friends and family I was able to have a positive outlook.

Present day … which three words would you use to describe your experience as a QuestBridge Scholar? 

Resilience, family, helpful. My experience as a QuestBridge Scholar has been fulfilling. I have formed friendships and met amazing QuestBridge Scholars at Emory and other colleges. I consider the Emory QuestBridge Scholars Network Chapter my family because they motivate me and help me succeed. QuestBridge Scholars form bonds because we have similar stories and backgrounds and can finally talk about the struggles we face without being judged or misunderstood.

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Anything else you would like to add?

Dream big and never give up! Take a chance and apply to your dream schools because you never know what the outcome may be. You have to think positively during the college application process and believe in yourself. Also trust the process and you will realize things will fall into place.