Dear QB: How do I complete my College Match Requirements on time?

DearQBAs you patiently wait to learn if you were selected as a Finalist, you should be working diligently on your College Match Requirements for the schools you ranked. With only a short time period between Finalist notification (October 19) and the College Match Requirements deadline (November 1), we wanted to give you our best tips for staying organized during this very important part of the process: Continue reading

Our Top 10 Tips for Academic Success

strategy-iconThe QSN theme for October is Academic Success — just in time for upcoming midterm exams for QuestBridge Scholars! Late nights and last-minute cram sessions may seem inevitable in college; but if you figure out the study techniques that work for you, then you can minimize these as much as possible.

We asked QuestBridge Staff and Quest Liaisons for their best study tips, and here are the top 10… Continue reading

Dear QB: What do I need to know about the QuestBridge application and the Common App?

DearQBHere at QuestBridge, we know that the college application process can feel a little daunting at times. We’re here to guide you through that process, and questions about the Common App are not uncommon!

Before you dive in to both applications, make sure to read through these frequently asked questions:

Do I have to submit the Common App? If so, is it also due by the National College Match deadline?

Some of our college partners require you to submit the Common Application as an additional “College Match Requirement” if you rank them for the National College Match. You can see all college requirements on each college partner’s page under the “Application Requirements” tab.  Continue reading

Dear QB: There are so many colleges out there. How do I find the “one” for me?

DearQBWith thousands of four-year colleges in the United States, it can be intimidating to know how to find the college that is the right fit for you academically, financially, and socially. The good news is that QuestBridge’s college partners are all great options, and you can certainly find more than one that is a good fit. The key is to set goals, do your research, and stay organized. Let’s dive deeper into these three things…

Set Goals

Before you start searching for schools, take time to think about what you want to accomplish in college. You don’t have to know everything now, but thinking ahead will help when you start making college decisions. Continue reading

The Three Things You Want Your Recommender to Know

RecommenderAsking a teacher for a recommendation is an important step on your path to college, and (as always!) we’re here to help. But before we go any further, register your recommender in your College Prep Scholars Program application, if you haven’t already. We strongly recommend that you ask a teacher who has taught you in a core subject area (e.g., math, science, history/social studies, English, foreign language). The earlier you ask for a recommendation, the better. You don’t want your teacher to feel rushed!
Continue reading

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:
Continue reading

End Your Year With Reflection

As many of you know, reflection is woven into QuestBridge’s founding story. In the early days of QuestBridge, “Reflection Time” created a space where introspection and personal reflection could be explored, practiced, nurtured, and strengthened. At the very beginning of 2015, QuestBridge Co-Founder and CEO Ana McCullough wrote a blog post about the importance of taking time to reflect: Continue reading

How Can I Stay Organized While Applying to College?

How to stay organized while applying to college

Applying to college might be the first time in your life you’ve had to juggle so many deadlines and tasks. In order to successfully navigate all the minute details and different policies, you’ll need to track a lot of information. But how? Below we offer organization ideas for different stages of the college application process.

Researching colleges:

Keep a spreadsheet of all the colleges you are interested in.  Have columns including (but not limited to):

  • Size, location, school type, etc.
  • Acceptance rate, average test scores, etc.
  • Application deadline(s), required tests, etc.

You want to be sure to keep track of information that will later help you narrow down your list of schools to apply to. Also, be sure to identify if it is a reach, target, or safety school for you, based on your own academic performance. Later on you can use that information to make sure you are applying to a range of schools.

Conduct the majority of your college research over the summer. You can continue research on a small scale throughout the school year, but you’ll be juggling many other activities. Try to complete at much as possible during the summer to minimize your stress throughout the application process.

Applying to colleges:

Create a timeline or spreadsheet to track all deadline related information. You should be tracking:

  • All materials that must be submitted and the respective deadlines. For example, if you are ranking Amherst College through the National College Match, your deadline/requirement list could look like this:

jpeg graphic

Note: College Match and Regular Decision requirements for each partner college can be found here:

  • As you make this list, look for items that overlap. Use your own system (such as different highlighter colors) to group that information. Then, when you go to submit those materials, look for ways to streamline the submission process.
  • Make sure you have a clear method of checking off the items you have accomplished. It’s never fun to anxiously search through your email to see if you remembered to submit something – after the deadline has passed.

If you follow these organization techniques, we can guarantee you’ll make it through the college application process with much less stress than the typical high school senior!

A Note on Reflection from Ana McCullough, QuestBridge CEO and Co-Founder

Quest students during Reflection Time in our original five-week summer program.

Michael McCullough and I founded Quest in 1994 as a residential summer program on the Stanford campus for 22 bright, low-income high school juniors. At that time, we had vivid memories of our high school and college years, as we were just finishing college ourselves. We believed college can be one of the best times in a person’s life – and one of the most important. It is also a time of much movement and transition. College felt like a great adventure at sea – with exciting ups and downs, new horizons, new challenges, and new discoveries with each passing week. The college application process marked the beginning of that great adventure.

Given this, when we created the original Quest summer program, we wanted to explore the idea of providing time, and a conducive environment, in which our students (high school rising seniors) and staff (college students, mostly Quest Scholar undergrads) could reflect on their lives during this tremendously important time. With “Reflection Time,” our job was to create a time and space where introspection and personal reflection could be explored, practiced, nurtured, and strengthened.

During Reflection Time, some students wrote in journals, others sat in contemplation or prayer, others read favorite texts, others sketched or painted, others played an instrument, others practiced yoga or martial arts, others danced. It was up to each individual to decide what was best for her or him. Reflection Time was an opportunity to slow down, rejuvenate, and quietly explore one’s deepest goals, hopes, and dreams.

Reflection Time at Quest became a daily activity that students and staff routinely called their favorite activity of the summer. Often, students would request, “please give us more Reflection Time!” in spite of our packed daily schedules.

One Quest Scholar wrote:

Reflection time is another of my favorite activities because it is so free. I can focus on anything I love to do… I can draw, color, write poetry, write in a diary, relax, and just think. Through reflection time, I am getting in touch with my inner self, the very core of my individuality. As I was sitting on the porch, gazing out onto the lake and up to the foothills, I felt a deep sense of inner peace. I chose to write a poem describing my emotions at that moment. The feeling of freedom that I had then is almost indescribable.

Many students continued their personal reflection practices even after leaving the five-week Quest summer program, and continued throughout their college years. They often would use this time to explore big questions, such as:

  • How can I creatively approach my college education?
  • What is my identity as a Quest Scholar? As a student on my college campus? As a member of my family? As a member of my community?
  • What professions will enable me to achieve all of my life goals – including my financial, family, community, and societal goals?
  • What does “learning” mean to me?
  • What does “being happy” mean to me?

Quest Scholars in those early days shared that, during Reflection Time, they could get underneath the surface waves of their college adventure, to reach a certain kind of calmness that lay beneath the waves. That is what reflection enables you to do – to “drop in” to the part of yourself that isn’t always moving so fast, and that knows what matters most to you. Every Quest Scholar has this depth.

The great thing about reflection is that it doesn’t inherently cost anything, and doesn’t necessarily require special equipment, a specific place, or other people. And even a short period of time – five or ten minutes per day – can be powerful, and longer periods even more so. What it does require is openness, authenticity, and compassion towards yourself just as you are – along with a working vision for where you would like to go, and who you would like to become. You have everything you need for reflection wherever you are, right here and now.

On the whole, in our original Quest summer program we learned that high school and college students can, and do, powerfully grow and thrive with this kind of time built in to their daily lives. Once our students and staff got into the swing of it, they loved (and guarded) the time, because of how much it enriched and rewarded them.

During this January reflection month, I encourage you to explore the idea of building your own form of reflection time into your lives, if you haven’t already. Even a short time per day can make a big difference. If you already have a reflection practice, please let us know if you have stories to share, or ideas for your fellow Quest Scholars to make reflection time as rewarding as possible.

Very best of luck to you as you embark on the second half of this academic year. Warmest wishes for 2015.

Ana McCullough, QuestBridge CEO and Co-Founder

Happy Quest Day!

Today is our first annual National Quest Day, a day when Quest Scholars, admissions officers, friends, family, Quest staff, and general supporters represent their Quest spirit by wearing a Quest t-shirt. It’s only lunchtime in Palo Alto (Quest HQ), but already we’re so proud to see the outpouring of support and Quest spirit from our widespread Quest family.

Here’s a sampling!

Yale admissions department
Rice admissions department
Bowdoin Quest Scholars
UVa Quest Scholars
Colorado College Quest Scholars
Princeton Quest Scholars

 Be sure to follow the Quest Scholars Network on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more #questday photos!

— Lisa from Quest HQ