Dear QB: What are application readers looking for?

We recently asked applicants what topic they most wanted to read about on The Bridge Blog. The unanimous answer was: What are application readers looking for in a strong application? Today, we’re diving into that topic!

Before we begin, it’s important to remember that we review applications holistically. There is no single part of an application that is “make or break.” We are looking for students who are both academically high-achieving and come from low-income backgrounds. With that in mind, let’s dive in… Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: 5 App Tips from Vanderbilt University

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Zeben Ashton, Former Admissions Counselor, Vanderbilt University

The college application. A summation of your high school experience and a guide to who you think you’d like to become in the future. Naturally, it is one of the more stressful aspects of any student’s final year of high school. While college admissions counselors are telling students to “have fun with the process” and “not to stress” – students are looking at the process knowing that the outcome could have an incredible influence on their future.

That being said, it is an important process and while students really shouldn’t spend sleepless nights stressing about the question “is my application good enough?” – students should be prepared to invest a good amount of time into presenting themselves and their experiences to the best of their ability. How does one go about doing that? Here are five tips for students as they think about preparing their college applications. Continue reading

Advice from an Applicant: Q&A with QuestBridge Scholar Whitney Beamer

Having been a National College Match Scholarship Recipient and a QuestBridge intern, Whitney Beamer (UChicago ’20) knows the ins and outs of applying to QuestBridge. Now a Computer Science major at the University of Chicago, Whitney is sharing her 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?

Leaving Florida and getting to live in and explore a new city was always my dream, but I never really thought that it could be a reality. Coming from a high school where most students ended up at our state universities, I thought that I was destined for that path of normalcy as well. But applying to the National College Match allowed me to dream bigger than that and create a new normal, one where I had the chance of attending a top college for little to no cost and one where I could live out my once “unattainable” dream.
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Dear QB: How is it possible that a top college can be more affordable than my state school?

DearQBThis is one the most frequent questions we receive here at QuestBridge — and it’s also one of our favorites to answer! We know that every year, there are over 30,000 outstanding high school students from low-income backgrounds who are academically qualified to attend the nation’s top colleges. Over 80% of them do not apply to even one selective college.

Many of these promising students assume they can’t afford an education at a top college, or think that these schools don’t want low-income students on their campuses. QuestBridge exists to tell these students this: you can afford to dream big. Why? Keep reading…
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Why should I apply to the National College Match?

If you have excelled in school but are concerned about the cost of college, we’re here to tell you that you can afford to dream big. The 2017 National College Match can open many doors that can lead to a full scholarship or very generous financial aid so you can attend a top college. The application opens this summer and is due on September 27, 2017.

Sometimes the hardest part of applying to the National College Match can simply be finding the motivation to get started. So we asked QuestBridge Scholars who were matched in the 2016 National College Match to share their insight, and here’s what they had to say…

“If you’ve been introduced to QuestBridge, it’s because someone knows you have what it takes to succeed in an incredible college. You’ll do amazing work however you apply to college, but QuestBridge can be your middle man that makes sure you get the credit you’ve earned.”

– Joseph K., Columbia University, Albion, MI


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Light Beyond Darkness: From College Prep Scholar to Group Leader

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Cesar Rufino leading students at the 2015 National College Admissions Conference at Yale.

It took me a while to realize how fortunate I am. I don’t say this because I never appreciated my parents’ hard work or because I complained about materialistic things I never obtained during my childhood; I have always been happy about my life, but I never understood the context.

I still remember the day I attended QuestBridge’s National College Admissions Conference at Northwestern University. I was wearing new dress shoes, new khakis, and a crisp picnic-like shirt that my mom had purchased with her Tupperware earnings. I was so excited to learn more about colleges and continue pursuing my long-term ambitions. Continue reading

It Takes a Community to Build a Home

Leslie Luqueno, QuestBridge Scholar, Haverford College ’20

A bit over a year ago, I was accepted through Early Decision to my top-choice school, Haverford College. But first-quarter-high-school-senior me would have never imagined myself attending a small liberal arts college across the country. I was set on attending well-known, large research universities, but after attending Haverford’s fly-in in October, I knew that it was the place that felt most like home. Abandoning my original dream institutions was not easy and there were many factors I had to take into account to see if it was worth going across the country, leaving my beloved golden state behind. Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Now is the Time to Brag

Meghan Grandolfo, Colby College,
Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for Access and Inclusion

You may have seen or heard the term “holistic” while exploring the admissions policies for many colleges and universities. And you may know institutions that practice a holistic review consider not only your grade point average and standardized test scores, but the entirety of who you are, the broader context of where you’ve come from and the opportunities you’ve been presented with, and the ways you’ve contributed to your family and community. As admissions counselors, we want to learn more from your application about the passions and interests that inspire you and the stories and experiences you’d bring to our institution. Each and every applicant has a unique background and perspective to share, and each has the opportunity to highlight their diverse talents and involvements in a distinct and meaningful way.

It may feel awkward to be boastful as you approach the college admissions process, but if there was ever a time to boast, this is it. Sharing who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what matters most to you can help distinguish you from many other students and can provide admissions counselors with invaluable information as they consider your application. Continue reading

Dear QB: How can I find a summer job to help pay for college?

DearQBIf you have already received your financial aid package, you may have seen the term “Summer Work Contribution,” which is a common component of financial aid. This is the amount of money you are expected to save this upcoming summer to bring with you to college.

Why is this so important? Well, this money is your responsibility to earn. Be sure to arrive on campus with this money on hand or else you will be short during the year. Here are a few tips to make sure you stay on track to earn your summer work contribution: Continue reading

Q&A with Quest for Excellence Arts Winner Sisam Bhandari

Paty Calderon, 2016 College Prep Scholar and Quest for Excellence Award Winner
Sisam Bhandari, 2016 College Prep Scholar and Quest for Excellence Award Winner

Last year, Sisam Bhandari applied to the College Prep Scholars Program and received a full scholarship to a summer program through the Quest for Excellence Arts Award. During her summer at the Rhode Island School of Design, Sisam was challenged to think of both her art and her interests in exciting new ways. We spoke with Sisam to learn more!


How did you initially learn about the Quest for Excellence Arts Award, and why did you decide to apply?

I was a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar and heard about the Quest for Excellence Arts Award through the QuestBridge application, QuestBridge emails, and also through other students in a Facebook group.

Leading up to the program, what were you most excited about?

I was most excited to experience the “college experience”—  living with a roommate, making new friends, and working tirelessly to learn about something I was very passionate about. Continue reading