Admissions Officer Insight: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions!

Last month, we asked College Prep Scholars which questions you have for admissions officers. Out of the hundreds of responses, three questions appeared over and over again. Check out the answers below, provided by admissions officers at a few of our college partners!

Question 1: How would being a National College Match Finalist be viewed by an admissions officer, and how does it benefit the student?

patricia-grinnellPatricia Amador-Lacson, Grinnell College, Senior Assistant Director of Admission

“Involvement with QuestBridge in any way shows your commitment to being part of a highly selective and diverse college or university. Additionally, it signals a commitment to responsible financing of a college education, which will open up post-graduation options. My colleagues and I enjoy reading the applications of National College Match Finalists during any admission round. We recognize that achieving the National College Match Finalist designation is an involved process that takes time, dedication, and organization. Finalists are impressive scholars and citizens who have demonstrated success both inside and outside the classroom. So, when we see that a student is a National College Match Finalist, we know we’re looking at someone who will impress us and shine—not just on paper, but also as part of any campus community.”
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Admissions Officer Insight: How High School Juniors Can Get a Head Start

Jennifer Gargano
Jenni Gargano, Dartmouth College, Assistant Director of Admissions

In your junior year of high school, it’s probably hard to escape the reality that you’ll be applying to college in the coming months. You’re probably already thinking about all the different parts of your application, from crafting your story through the personal statements to keeping your grades up in your challenging classes, on top of trying to enjoy your final year and a half as a high school student with your family and friends.

As an admissions officer at Dartmouth, I know we ask you to do a lot throughout the college application process – that’s why I want to share how the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program can help you on your journey. When I was a junior in high school (a long, long time ago, I know), I was a College Prep Scholar myself and attended the National College Admissions Conference at Stanford. Please believe me when I say that this opportunity was one of the most formative in my college search journey. My hope is that you could gain as much or even more than I did when I was in your shoes – and so I encourage you to give the application a shot to see what might happen.

Here, I’ve listed the top three ways the College Prep Scholars Program and application could give you a head start in applying to colleges in your senior year:
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Admissions Officer Insight: Tips for Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Regular Decision

Ryan Ricciardi, Bowdoin College, Associate Dean of Admissions

The world is your oyster! This is an exciting time of the holiday season as you finalize your early and regular decision applications to the colleges on your list. The even better part? You’ve already finished 90 percent of the work. You wrote your essays, contacted teachers for letters of recommendation, took your exams, and filled out financial aid information. That’s a ton of work to celebrate. Think about the pieces of applying to and going to college that are important to you: size, location, academics, test optional, etc. The QuestBridge partners are all different institutions that offer different opportunities—and we are all excited to admit more QuestBridge Scholars in early and regular application rounds and to learn more about you. It’s a chance for you to let us know that you’re as interested in us as we are in you. Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Researching Colleges You Can’t Visit

kathleen-abels-haverford
Kathleen Abels, Haverford College, Associate Director of Admission and Coordinator of International Admission

There are amazing QuestBridge college partners all over the country, and it would be nearly impossible to visit each campus. Admission officers understand just how much time, energy and resources it can take to visit colleges in person, and we want to support you in finding alternative opportunities to learn about our communities. With a little initiative, you can make meaningful connections without having to be physically present on campus.

Here are just a few ways to get to know what it would be like to live and study at a particular college: Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: 5 App Tips from Vanderbilt University

Ashton-Zeben-Vanderbilt
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

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

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. Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: What You Can’t Find on Colleges’ Websites…

With the deadline to rank colleges for the 2016 National College Match quickly approaching, we hope you are diving deep into college websites to do as much research as possible. We asked a few of our college partners for insight about things you may not find on their websites, but are central to their campuses…

Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College“Four years at Bowdoin teaches you to be intellectually fearless. Surrounded by people from all over the country and the world, your professors and peers will push you outside of your comfort zone in and out of the classroom, and in doing so will open the world and help you to find your path through it. Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: The Top Five Reasons to Apply for a Fly-in Program

Tori-Colby
Tori Guen, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Colby College

If you are a rising senior in high school, now is the perfect time to apply for fly-in programs. Numerous QuestBridge college partners offer campus visit opportunities that are known colloquially as fly-in or overnight programs. A majority of these programs are focused on bringing underrepresented students to their campus, and travel grants are available to cover all costs of transportation, lodging, meals and programming. Take advantage of these opportunities — you may be able to visit an amazing school for free! If there is a specific college you are interested in, contact the admissions office to inquire about funded opportunities to visit campus. Here, I’ve listed the top five reasons why attending a fly-in program will benefit you during your college search. Continue reading