Dear QB: As a high school senior, what do I need to know about the FAFSA?

DearQBFAFSA season opens on October 1 each year! If you’re applying to college through the National College Match, you may be wondering what this means for you. Many of our college partners require the FAFSA as a College Match and/or Regular Decision Application Requirement, so we’re here to help answer your questions. Let’s get started!

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the primary form that the federal government, states, and colleges use to award grants, scholarships, work study, and student loans. Most of our college partners use federal and state funds to finance a portion of College Match Scholarships, which is why the FAFSA is a College Match Requirement for many college partners. Continue reading

Finding Your College Fit: Q&A with QuestBridge Scholar Daniel Espino

Daniel Espino, QuestBridge Scholar, Vassar ’18
Daniel Espino, QuestBridge Scholar, Vassar ’18

Ranking up to 12 colleges is what makes the National College Match unique from other college application processes. But with 39 college partners to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start your research and how to narrow down your list.

Daniel Espino (Vassar ’18) ranked colleges for the National College Match, and learned a valuable lesson that he’s passing along to this year’s applicants:

How did you choose schools to rank? Based on your experience, do you have any advice for students on deciding which schools to rank?

In the 17 years prior to having to apply to college, 99.999% of my life had been spent in the Southwest. My first time ever being on the East Coast was actually during the fall semester of my senior year, when I applied to a fly-in program and was flown to D.C. for a night (that was also my first time ever flying). Because of this, I didn’t know if I wanted to leave the comfort of familiarity that I had on the West Coast. This prompted me to make the decision to only rank the four schools that didn’t require me to make the commitment of attending if I was matched.

Looking back, I realize that this cut my chances of getting a guaranteed scholarship by half, and knowing that now you can apply to up to 12 schools, I would recommend to take advantage of this opportunity you have been given and apply to as many schools as you can.  Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Researching Colleges You Can’t Visit

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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

Dear QB: What are myths about creating your perfect college list?

DearQBWe talk a lot about “college fit” at QuestBridge because we know how important it is for the next four years of your life … and beyond! Choosing a college that facilitates your personal happiness will greatly enhance your undergraduate years, and there are several factors to consider (financial, academic, social, geographic — to name a few!). Today, we’re debunking three common myths we hear about college fit: Continue reading

Lessons Learned on the Path to College: Q&A with QuestBridge Scholar Jason Garcia

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Jason Garcia, QuestBridge Scholar, Northwestern ’17

When Jason Garcia (Northwestern ’17) received a letter in the mail from QuestBridge about the National College Match, he made it his goal to become a Finalist. Now a QuestBridge Scholar and History major at Northwestern University, Jason has achieved that goal and is hoping to inspire others to do the same.

Why did you decide to apply to college through the National College Match?

Once I actually confirmed that QuestBridge was a realistic opportunity, it made all of the sense in the world! I remember getting a letter from QuestBridge through the mail, and asking one of my school counselors about the program. They had never heard of it, and so I had to do a lot of my own research to figure out what QuestBridge was about and what it could offer me. Honestly, I applied just with the goal of becoming a Finalist, because I knew all of the free college applications I would have access to would save my family so much money. 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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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

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