There’s No Place Like 800 Miles From Home

Questbridge Post 4

After my college acceptances came in, I had the option of two extremes: I could go to schools nearby—The University of Tennessee Knoxville, twenty minutes away, or Maryville College, a liberal arts school inexplicably in my tiny conservative town—or I could go to Wesleyan, 800 miles from home. Looking back, it seems almost insane that I chose to go to Wesleyan, knowing that the distance would be insurmountable from both ends. I would rarely be able to visit home, and my family would essentially never be able to visit me. The obstacle, of course, was not really distance, but money.

Many high school seniors are nervous about going to college far from home. After all, our parents are the center of our world from the time we are born until the time we graduate from high school—sometimes annoying, but always there with a plan and a hug and those soccer cleats you left at home. It’s a big adjustment for any teenager, but in reality, for a well-off or middle-class student, attending college two hours away or twelve hours away is relatively the same experience: you’re more likely to be able to go home for all school breaks and have your parents will be there for during Parent’s Weekend. For a student from a low-income background, the story is much different. During my time at Wesleyan, my mother was able to visit campus exactly twice—once to pick me up after freshman year ended, and once for graduation. My father only made it up to Connecticut once, to see me graduate. I never had a visitor to show around on Family Weekend, or to introduce to my hallmates and friends. This was not my parents’ choice. They simply could not afford to visit me.

For me, this immobility was the key defining factor of attending college far from home. Thanksgiving, Fall, and Spring Breaks were times of year I watched my friends, even ones from as far away as California, pack up and head back home, while I generally remained stranded on campus. This is simply another sacrifice low-income students often have to make if they want to attend prestigious universities. Because I participated in a Thanksgiving Parade with the marching band during my senior year of high school, the November after college graduation was the first Thanksgiving I had spent with my family in five years.  If someone had told me that was going to happen before I accepted Wesleyan’s offer of acceptance, I would have been terrified.

If you go to school far from home, you, too, are likely going to have to get used to being alone at times when you might otherwise have been with family. It is not as easy to share your triumphs and fears with the ones you love through technology, and sometimes when you need your family the most, they won’t be able to be there. That’s the bad news. The good news is that attending college far away from your hometown also opens a lot of opportunities for you to enjoy new kinds of experiences. I found that I was sometimes grateful not to be headed anywhere for Fall Break—it was so short that I was perfectly content to re-charge by watching Netflix in my room for four days and watch my jet-lagged hallmates wander in Sunday evening before classes began. Those Thanksgivings I missed with my family? I spent one with a friend’s family in Boston, where they rented out a dance hall filled with both music and tables of food to celebrate the holiday. I spent another watching a James Bond marathon with a different friend’s family in a nearby Connecticut town before making my way back to campus for an exciting adventure of trying to figure out how to get back inside my dorm without my key when everyone was gone and Public Safety was closed (Spoiler Alert: I knocked on a lot of windows). I spent another Thanksgiving in New York City, standing in the cold for hours and hours to watch the Macy’s Parade go by, and another in New Jersey, eating traditional Chinese cooking instead of green bean casserole and mashed potatoes.

There will probably be times that you feel lonely to be so far from home. But I promise that no matter how lonely you feel, you won’t ever actually be alone. The campus may seem quiet, and it may seem like every person you know has gone home except for you, but there are other students experiencing the same feelings all across campus—students who may not be able to afford to go home, like you, or international students, for whom a two or three-day break from classes isn’t even close to enough time to get home, or even students who don’t really have a home to go back to. There are other people in your same situation, and even if you don’t meet up with them while you’re stuck at school, it can be nice to know that they’re there. You will find people who refuse to let you be alone on holidays, who will bring you into their families and traditions. You will go on adventures you never expected, and learn to be independent just a little bit faster than everyone else you know. And, in this age of technology, home is only a phone call, a Skype date, or a Snapchat away.

Maybe you’re the first member of your family to go college, or the first to finish, but regardless of your circumstances, going to college will change your life—it’s meant to change your life, to make it better. Eight hundred miles may seem like a long way to be from home, but for me, and for some of you, it was only the first step.

Jessica Jordan, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

QuestBridge Limbo

blog5pictureWho wants to play a round of QuestBridge limbo? Any takers? No? You, and your slightly raised eyebrow of skepticism, are probably waiting to find out what QuestBridge limbo is before agreeing to play my game. You’re a smart cookie, and you’ve got me for once because this limbo isn’t the fun game you might remember from your childhood.

I know three other QuestBridge Finalists, and I met several more a few weeks ago, so believe me when I tell you that each finalist has a unique way of handling “limbo.” I couldn’t hardly do their strategies justice, so I’ll stick to telling you mine, but realize that you aren’t crazy if you’ve spent your time differently.

I’d have to say that the highlight of my time during this tricky month-long period is not what I thought it would be. While I wish I could rant about why College Prep Scholars should attend the QuestBridge National College Admissions conferences if they are so lucky to be invited, today is not the day. However, what I will tell you is that the conference connected me to many opportunities.

Almost a year ago, I applied to Colorado College’s Multicultural Open House Fly-In program. Honestly, I’d never been to Colorado, and I thought that the CC (“see-see” is the school’s clever way of branding itself) admissions officer was pretty compelling at the conference, so why not apply to the program? As just a side note, please, please, please never count yourself out of an opportunity because you think you aren’t likely to be “qualified” or “competitive.” You’ll surely regret this; I know I have in many instances.

Anyway, you might not be surprised to learn that when the email came announcing that CC was going to pay for my mom and me to fly to the Open House, I was completely caught off guard. In fact, I nearly regarded the message as spam (you know how it is). But a week later I was on a plane headed to Colorado Springs.

It’s funny to me how things like this happen. We’re so used to surprises being negative ones that we forget that positive surprises exist.

Picking up from the introduction to my last blog (if you haven’t read it, that’s okay), here I was, sitting in the Colorado Springs airport, finishing the last of my supplements for my QuestBridge schools. I clicked submit with a funny thought in my head: “What if I regret this?” Specifically, I’m talking about my fear that I might end up really enjoying CC and therefore end up regretting my decision not to rank CC.

I rode down one of two escalators in the whole airport to find a lovely CC student ambassador, waiting for me and a handful of other “prospies,” or prospective students. This was the beginning to an amazing weekend, if you haven’t already guessed. However, explaining what exactly was so awesome about the weekend is kind of like explaining the plot of Avatar or Inception to a friend—it’s so vivid, yet for some reason, you cannot articulate it. I will say that CC made no attempts to pretend that the school was something that it wasn’t.

The lovely Monica, Jonathan, and Cari, the faces of the team responsible for the Open House weekend, did their best to let the bubbly personality of the CC student body shine through during the weekend. One example of this effort shines through in the college tours. Think back to every college tour you’ve ever been on. Can you remember the breath of your mom or dad or mentor on your neck? Even if your parents are totally relaxed in an anti-tiger parent sort of way, do you not remember thinking about how they perceived the school? See, CC does not allow parents on the campus tour; parents have their own tour guide. I think that this example is a testament to CC’s ideology surrounding the prospective student.

I’ve been on quite a few tours, including Colorado College’s, and I’ll be the first to tell you that they aren’t the best way to picture yourself at a school. I think that their purpose is dubious at best. Talking to real, live students is the best way to see how you’ll fit in at a particular school.

Spending the night with a CC student and his roommate was probably the highlight of my weekend not because of the whole “sleeping” part but because of the conversations that I and several other prospies had with him and his friends. They were brutally honest, and I’d say that I got the most accurate picture of myself at CC after participating in this conversation.

When it came down to it, the bubbly, adventurous attitudes of the typical CC students, the foreknowledge of CC’s pitfalls, the Block Plan (all students at CC have only one four week class at a time, and all of the professors consequently have only one class to focus on), and the school’s partnership with the Columbia University have sold me. And can you just look at this picture?

CC

I seriously owe much of my current sanity regarding my future to the people at Colorado College, so thank you guys! I sincerely mean this.

I deliberately chose my experiences in Colorado Springs because they illustrate the point that low income does not equate to low opportunity. My family can’t afford to just buy some plane tickets to Colorado and spend a few days there, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to do this. One quick story before I go. While I was at the Open House, I met twins who mentioned that they had been to several fly in programs before the one at CC. With a little bit of prying, I found out that this was their TENTH fly in program and they had flown from Carleton to CC. Don’t ask me how their school is okay with all of this time off, but this only further illustrates my point: look for these opportunities and submit an application or shoot off an email to someone who seems important.

Limbo doesn’t have to be a terrifying game, but you can see that I’ve chosen to accelerate my game of limbo; it’s how I have chosen to cope. I’ve immersed myself in my studies and my life. Visiting Colorado College gave me hope that there is something waiting for me after December 1. I cannot say that this “something” will be the same for everyone; in fact, I know that it won’t be. I would, however, urge you to find that something. More on this in my next post, but until then, check out all of the opportunities that schools like CC are willing to offer, and take a risk; it might just surprise you in your inbox a few months from now.

Collin Bentley, 2014 College Match applicant

The Quest for QuestBridge

IMG_1540The first time I heard about QuestBridge was through my Latin teacher. I was a nervous sophomore, already concerned about applying to college. My teacher told me about the QuestBridge program and I decided to look into it. After looking through the website and seeing what the program had to offer, I was convinced that this was the scholarship I was going to apply for. During my junior year, the counselors held a few informational meetings about QuestBridge, and during my senior year they even had a QuestBridge ambassador speak to us. However, I find that this program still isn’t that well known around my school.

All of you seniors out there will know what I mean when I say, the November and December months in school are just about the most nerve wracking time of the year. Many seniors receive college admissions decisions as early applicants. Here in Atlanta, a ton of my friends applied to the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!!!). UGA is a major state school here, and many of the students that graduate from my high school continue their education there. On November 14th, admission decisions were released. As you can imagine, emotions in my first block class and throughout the day were running high. Students kept checking their admissions page and application status as well as the UGA Twitter page to somehow speed up the process of receiving admission letters. Well throughout the school day, no decisions were released. However, around 4 p.m., as I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I saw a post from a good friend with a picture of his UGA acceptance letter. His was the first of many posted that night.

People started asking me: “Jasmin, did you get into UGA?” The question was reoccurring and at first I would say no, I didn’t apply, and try to leave my answer at that, but of course, inquisitive friends wanted to know why I hadn’t applied. Each time they asked I would explain my process through QuestBridge and the terms of the scholarship and that my admission decision would not be released until December 2nd. Just the confusion amongst my friends says enough about how well, or not so well, this program is known around here. It was like two ends of the spectrum; there were people who knew exactly what I was talking about, but then there were those who had no idea what QuestBridge was. But on the other end, as a Finalist, just by explaining my college choices, I was able to spread more knowledge about the program. In my graduating class of 743 students, I do not know any other Finalist. And I hope that my involvement in QuestBridge can further encourage the underclassmen that I know to apply.

On a personal note, the state admission decisions made me nervous. Can you imagine being around a whole group of students who knew where they were going after graduation, or who at least had a backup school ready for them? I have even spoken to students who were applying for housing already. All the college talk and excitement made me even more anxious for the December 2nd decision. It’s already mid-November and I know you readers are probably thinking: “December 2nd? That’s not so far away!” But each day seems longer than the last as I wait for a decision that could change my life, or at least the next four years of it.

So far, this experience has been an emotional ride, kind of hidden from the spotlight. But I think now that my high school has a representativem for lack of a better term, who is going through the process, it will become a program that more students here are acquainted with. With that, if you are reading this and still considering whether you will apply for QuestBridge next year, I leave you with a penny for your thoughts, a quote that recently gave me something to think about: “I am enough of a realist to understand that I can’t reach everyone, but I am more of an optimist to get up every morning and try.” Though that quote is probably meant in a larger context, change starts in small ways. QuestBridge gives the opportunity for you to try to reach, if not everyone, just a few people. That can begin with your high school or community and lead to places you never imagined—it’s all about optimism. Learning about this program could change someone’s life. It did for me.

Jasmin Kamruddin, 2014 College Match applicant

An Obsession with Food Gone Wrong?

collin_post3So, I am a Horse Leader at a ranch in my town that provides equine therapy to children with autism, and while I’d love to tell you more about that, I’d like to fill y’all in on something that my fellow Horse Leader told me yesterday. She said, “Collin, you are such a happy guy; it’s oppressive!” Star stricken by her unmitigated gall, I sputtered. I’ve been thinking about what she said tonight, and I began to question whether the person I externally project myself to be is really who I am. I’m not saying that I go around all day sulking in my dark cloud of gloom and doom, but I didn’t for a minute think that I would be elected for the Happiest Guy of the Year award.

What I’m telling you is important. Are you really who you think you are? To other people, I mean. Do you know what has really happened to you? Can you look at your character, your personality, in the mirror?

I genuinely thought that I could until yesterday. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to describe to you the five-month walkabout I took after discovering this terrible news that I wasn’t who I thought I was because November 1st is right around the corner. First, congratulations on becoming a Finalist if you are a Finalist. I say this sarcastically because if you are a Finalist, you’ve heard this cheery phrase about a hundred times.

They don’t understand, do they? I don’t mean to tell you that the people who tell you “congrats” with the biggest smiles on their faces are necessarily facetious. But if you are up to speed on the QuestBridge train, you’ll know that this is the hardest you’ve had to work in a very long time to accomplish something so immensely important.

I started my week by forking over more of my money to the ACT Corporation to send my scores to the seven schools that I ranked through QuestBridge. I’d like to say that this was the last time I’ll log in to that web portal, but I seriously doubt so. Next, I plopped down in my cushy office chair with my parents’ tax forms from 2013, which I file (shhh! Don’t tell the IRS!). The CSS PROFILE, as the College Board so affectionately calls it, is not necessarily a nightmare, but the emotional build up surrounding it simply gives me anxiety. In reality this fine specimen of Web 2.0 graphics is easily tackled with about one hour of time and several TASTYKAKES, which are these heavenly Reese’s Peanut Butter cup cake bars.

Hopefully, you applied for some QuestBridge CSS PROFILE fee waivers. I’m glad I clicked the button because they saved me $74! After I submitted this financial aid application, I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought I was done, but I got an email from Princeton a few minutes later, of course, congratulating me for applying and directing me to their own version of the CSS PROFILE. This is one of the benefits of being an emotional eater, you see. By this time, my blood glucose was peaking, and I felt like I was on top of the world.

Happily, I opened up the Common Application to complete the supplements for the five of the schools I applied to that weren’t completely satisfied with just my QuestBridge application.

This brings me back to my self-representation problems. When it came time to down a cup of coffee, which I hate to do, and write about myself, the conversation I had above became easily more one-sided. When Tufts asked me to celebrate my nerdy side, I countered with a saucy checkmate. I wrote an essay about my shower, and I love it. I love it because I was writing about me. Writing about who you are really is quite liberating. No, in case you’re wondering, I’m not a shower. Maybe you’ll get to read my essay one day, but I don’t want to distract you from you.

Looking at my week, and thinking about yours, can you blame me for writing this blog post at approximately 2 AM? This might be a useless cliché, but humor me, and all of my platitudes, for a moment. Right before my regional meet for Cross Country, the last meet of the season, my coach told us that our bodies have been training for this moment for months. She underscored the fact that we were physically capable of exceeding our goals. She told us that the only thing holding us back was our minds.

I’m here to tell you that you are physically capable of meeting the November 1st deadline. You owe it to yourself, all of the training that you’ve been doing for the past two years. The only thing that will hold you back over the next few days is your mind. Know your enemy and work around it. You’ve got at least one person rooting for you.

And to all of my beautiful readers who weren’t Finalists, and I know you guys are out there because my close friend wasn’t one, do me a favor, close this tab right now and head to Wal-Mart to procure yourself a delicious box of TASTYKAKES. But in all seriousness, I respect you guys. I know it sucks, and I also know that there is nothing I can tell you right now that will make it all be “okay.” I’ll tell you this, though: as I was on the phone with my friend who didn’t make it, and she was saying that she was glad I made it yadda yadda, I told her to stop. I told her that I knew that when you don’t get what you want, you are supposed to congratulate the other person and hold your head up high, but why hide behind these social conventions? Sure, it’s nice emotionally for the so-called “winner,” but what about you?

You’ve put in a lot to this equation, and you came out with the wrong answer. But you might just yet have a reason to hold your head up high—you live in the United States. You have the opportunity, no, scratch that, multiple opportunities popping up all throughout your life to seize. Sure, QuestBridge was not one of them, but now is when you move on to Plan X, Y, and Z. You can still get to where you want to go. Might the road to get there be a bit more winding? That’s possible, but you’ll get to where you need to be—this is the key.

I’m watching you. I don’t want to see that negativity behind the computer screen. You owe it to yourself to put forth *again* the best version of yourself possible. Giving up now would be ridiculous. Please, please, please open up that Common Application and apply to your dream school, and, most importantly, a range of schools from your local state school to the schools you’d be happy at, to the schools you’d momentarily have a heart attack at as soon as you got there. You have to know this—it’s not over. You don’t get to lie down here, so wake up and get started.

Collin Bentley, 2014 College Match applicant

What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up?

to_doNow you are in college and you, most likely, are (or over) 18 years of age. In many countries, you are already considered an adult and seem entitled to do whatever adults can do. And… here comes the big question: what do you want to do?

This is a good and complicated question, and most likely, you will answer this question yourself in an indefinite amount of time, but it doesn’t mean you can’t start the thinking process. Actually, now is a perfect time to start thinking, and maybe do some initial planning as well.

If you entered college with a clear life-time goal, that’s great. You can probably start to accumulate and use all the means and resources to achieve the goal and have a head start. Of course, you can also start college as a confused young student, which is great as well—you are flexible. Flexibility is an advantage, because it leads to a wide open future. You are open to a large selection of opportunities, and one of them might lead to your dream career. (This can be true for people with clearly defined goals: keep your minds open, and you might discover something fantastic.)

College time is a great chance for this self-discovery process. The hints are everywhere:

  1. The classes (and majors). As you are introduced to a wide range of topics, your critical thinking skills as well as your beliefs are challenged. What classes are you taking? What do you like/hate about them? Is there a part that excites you? What topics do you wish to explore further? Take a minute and ponder through simple questions such as these. You will probably be surprised by how much you have learned about yourself, and the world. (So the other hint is: take a bunch of different classes to broaden your horizon.)
  2. Professors and alumni. Need support? They are there for you. Chances are, they have gone through the same exact dilemmas as you. They can offer you good advice. You can learn a lot by just talking to them. Plus, they can give you insights about certain occupations, fields and even introduce you to their networks, which may be very helpful.
  3. If you are curious about a field, the most straight forward way to explore is to work in the field. Various companies offer different levels of internships for students. Through the internships, you will find out whether you want to go further in this particular field, or perhaps move in a different direction completely. Your co-workers are great resources, too. They might show you far more about this field than you could ever imagine. The experience you gain gain through an internship will provide strong insight into the specifics of a particular profession..

The above points are some suggestions among hundreds of ways to answer the big question. Combine these thoughts with your interests, habits, and dreams, and see if you can form a preliminary impression about what you want to do. Why not prepare now, so when the opportunity arises, you are ready to take advantage.

Lastly, I’d like to quote the great Japanese cartoon artist Hideaki Sorachi:

Dreams are like trees: they are more fun to climb than to just gaze at. There are things that you’ll learn only when you actually climb after them.

Good luck. The future awaits.

Shu Zhang, Quest Scholar Alum, Wesleyan ’13

Admissions Officer Insight: The Person Behind the Application

zak_post2_northwestern_lunch
Students eating lunch at the 2014 National College Admissions Conference at Northwestern University.

 

Admissions Officer Corner is a series of posts written by college admissions officers at QuestBridge partner colleges

For the 35 QuestBridge partner schools and for many others, we are considering more than just numbers as we make our decisions. We are really trying to understand the person behind the application. While there are many factors that we use to make our decisions, below are three that I find most compelling: Continue reading

QuestBridge: A Glimmer of Hope

Shawon_vertical_quote
Check out the QuestBridge Daily Inspiration album on their Facebook page for more photos like this!

Ever since I was young, I knew that I wanted better for myself. I wanted to be able to provide for my family and live a life better than I was currently in. QuestBridge made that goal attainable. With that in mind, I knew I had to give it a shot. For me, the QuestBridge application meant an opportunity, and I think anyone in a situation similar to mine should do the same thing. However, it was not a shortcut to getting into college, but it was an alternative route. The application allows students, like myself, to use what they may look at as a disadvantage, to their advantage. QuestBridge gives full four-year scholarships to high-achieving low-income students, and by no means was the application a shortcut. It took time, and above all, honesty. Some of the questions I had never even thought about, and the responses pulled ideas out of me that I had never shared. More than that, I also learned about time management. The application was long, and in order to write meaningful essays, I had to think about my answers, and write, then re-write, and then re-write my essays again.

Any student who believes that they are living a life that completely closes out the option of going to college, I encourage you to reevaluate your options. QuestBridge can be that open door you were waiting for. I appreciate the hope the application provided for me and the hope it can provide for students just like me.

Jasmin Kamruddin, 2014 College Match applicant

On Making Tough Decisions

Colin_post_2

There are a hundred ways that I could have started this blog on college-related fears, and probably ninety-nine of them are appropriate, but would you expect anything like that from me? I’d just like to say that my lunchroom at school is freezing. It’s like twenty below, freezing. Of course, the running joke at my school, which is rural and, you guessed it, not very affluent, is that the budget goes to chilling that icebox of a cafeteria. Can I say that my life is terrible because I’ve had to spend thirty minutes a day in there for four years? No, while I tend to be dramatic, it’s simply a minor inconvenience.

Go ahead and think about a minor inconvenience in your life. You’ll be able to easily identify it because we complain about the minor inconveniences pretty much 24/7. I’m only seventeen years old, and I’ve only been seventeen for about three days, so I’m pretty inexperienced in life, but I’ve experienced a number of minor inconveniences, little roadblocks. The nice thing about little roadblocks is that I can live with them. I never starved through high school because I couldn’t bear the lunchroom; I shut up and ate my PBJ like a good little high student because food is important.

To say that college is also important is an understatement. I can’t deny that I think in terms of potentialities. What does that mean? Well, the “what if?” of a certain event is always on my mind. I can think of a number of fears regarding college next year. For example, what happens if I end up rooming with a people I really like but who do not like me back? What happens if I find out that college-level mathematics isn’t for me or that I’m not as determined as I thought I was?

Sure, these are extremely big questions, and I’m sure you have many other fears surrounding the “C word,” and I could write a really nice list of my top ten fears, and you could comment on that. I’m totally capable of doing that! Perhaps I could go as far as providing thoroughly researched coping tips for moving in to a dorm room with other people. These are all ideas that I actually considered when I was thinking about how to write this, but they wouldn’t help you, and they wouldn’t help me. I cannot possibly anticipate the millions of different comfortable and uncomfortable situations in to which I will be thrown in college. So when all else fails, I think back to my ice-cold cafeteria.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned how to cope with small inconveniences or uncomfortable situations by reminding myself that they are just that — small and temporary. Looking at the big picture, I can’t argue that room temperature seriously affected me in trying to accomplish my goals throughout high school. So by extension I have no reason to believe that the fears I have about going to college will be anything different. Do they exist? Certainly! Will they matter? No.

Now that you’ve read this far, you might be either skeptical of my philosophy or totally convinced, but from my experience with my friends, you’ve probably bought in to what I have to say, at least a little bit. However, for some reason my words don’t register when it comes to being at college away from home or any shape or form of flying. Aah! I’ve struck a nerve in some of you! I’ve mentioned the “F word.” You can tell me all you want that “if humans were meant to fly, they would have been born with wings,” but you, sir, are not living in Ancient Greece, which is where that saying originates.

Unlike Icarus’s wings, the wings of a plane have never melted. And if you really hate flying, then why can you not call it a completely safe minor inconvenience and move on? I suspect that most of the people I meet in high school who want to “stay local” aren’t really afraid of flying. “Stay local” to me most nearly means “stay with my family,” and this is completely valid. However, I’ve had many people tell me that college is half about academics and half about being thrown out of your comfort zone. I don’t think I need to write more about this because I bet you’re pretty good at making connections, but I’ll indulge myself anyway. Staying close to your family is staying in your comfort zone.

Whatever you want to brand “it” as, staying in your comfort zone is extremely dangerous. Sure, you can live the life you always wanted within your comfort zone, but you’ll be far less adaptable when unexpected situations come up in your life, as they often do, and you might limit yourself of some amazing opportunities, such as QuestBridge.

QuestBridge is giving us the opportunity, and you’ll remember how I feel about that word if you’ve read my other blog posts, to get a world-class education for free or at an extremely low cost. The only catch is that we might have to step outside of our comfort zones, endure the possible freezing lunchrooms, and seize that education, even if it means temporarily leaving our families behind.

To end on a nice note, I’ll simply tell you what I said to my friend who was ranking her colleges a few weeks ago. I said, “When you’re at that school, be it Maryville College (which is ten miles from my high school) or be it Stanford (which is thousands of miles away from my high school), you’ll still be just as close to your parents because anyone in this lovely year, 2014, is a phone call, text, or Skype away. I considered this when I made a list of colleges, and I hope you will, too. How far away are you really? You’ll never be that disconnected from the people you love.

Collin Bentley, 2014 College Match applicant

Admissions Officer Insight: Tips to Help Your College Search

zak_harris_post_1
Zak talking with prospective students at the QuestBridge National College Admissions Conference, Princeton University, June 2014.

 

Admissions Officer Corner is a series of posts written by college admissions officers at QuestBridge partner colleges

I probably spend every day of the week giving advice about the college process or talking about Bowdoin College. It’s not only a job, but a passion that I have found in my life. I strive to make sure that students going through the college process find a school (or a group of schools) that best suits them. Continue reading

College Bound

jasmin_post_1Ranking colleges for the College Match process was one of the most exciting yet scary parts of the Match application. The excitement came from the sheer joy of being able to make that decision, however, the decision itself was scary because it made going to college seem like more of a reality. With the reality of this situation, I had to put serious thought into which colleges I would be choosing. The first thing that I did was decide what factors about college were most important to me. For me, location was a huge factor, but these factors are not limited to proximity to home, they can also be quality of academics, size, type, and available majors. In my circumstance, I knew that considering an Ivy League and possibly being accepted to one was a long time goal of mine. Likewise, I encourage all other applicants to consider their previous goals when ranking colleges; QuestBridge can make those goals more achievable.

Once I decided on location and type of school, my choices were narrowed considerably. At this point I used the tons of mail I received from colleges (credits to QuestBridge for allowing that your name to be sent to partner schools). I used a program available through the College Board that my high school counselor introduced me to. The program was through Big Future and allows students to compare three colleges side by side including location, type, and campus life. Additionally, the catalogues and pamphlets I received from universities like Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia, and Yale, were helpful in letting me see what each school had to offer. I was provided insight to the various programs as well as student social life on campus, not to mention the type of food each dining hall had, far better than that served in high school. However, while looking at these pamphlets, it was important to remember that they were advertising the colleges, and just like any good advertisement, it leaves you wanting more.

I think an important part about deciding which colleges to rank was keeping a balance between an open mind to consider places you hadn’t before, but to also keep sight of factors that were most important to you. And with that advice, though the ranking process won’t be easy, I hope it makes this decision a little less scary.

Jasmin Kamruddin, 2014 College Match applicant