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

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

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

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

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

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.
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How Telementoring Helped Karli Get Into College

Karli Cecil YaleOne of the unique awards offered through the College Prep Scholars Program is telementoring with Amherst College students. But what is it exactly? And how can it help you get into college?

To give you a better idea of what telementoring looks like, we spoke with Karli Cecil, a 2015 College Prep Scholar and telementoring award recipient:
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Explore, Challenge, Strengthen: Summer Programs in a Nutshell

Close your eyes and picture yourself on the college campus of your dreams. What do you see? Ivy covered buildings? Late night study sessions in the library? Hang outs with a roommate in your dorm? Laboratories filled with cutting edge equipment?

What if you could see it for yourself the summer before your senior year of high school? The College Prep Scholars Program offers full scholarships to college summer programs so you can experience life beyond high school and to gain first-hand experience attending a selective college. As you get into the rhythms of college life, a summer program also gives you the opportunity to:
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Dear QB: Why should I apply to be a College Prep Scholar?

It’s your junior year of high school, and the reality of applying to college has started to hit. Standardized tests. Teacher recommendations. Essays. Transcripts. The list goes on! But instead of feeling overwhelmed by those things, what if you had a head start? The College Prep Scholars Program can give you just that.

We could go on about the program’s many awards and opportunities (all-expense-paid campus visits, anyone?), but we thought you should hear straight from College Prep Scholars themselves. We chatted with Marilyn, Arriana, and Romeo to find out how the College Prep Scholars Program helped them get to where they are today:
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