Dear QB: How do I show a college that I’m still interested?

DearQBAs you are finishing your Regular Decision Requirements, you may be wondering what you can do to further stand out as an applicant. One way is to stay engaged with the colleges to which you’re applying. This is especially important if you ranked schools and submitted all of your materials to them in November. Each college is unique, but here are a few ways you can stay in touch with the colleges on your list:

1. Submit your midyear report and financial aid materials on time.

The midyear report and financial aid materials are likely the last few materials you need to submit for your applications to be considered complete. Make a good last impression! Continue reading

Dear QB: I wasn’t matched. Now what?

DearQBWhen December 1 rolls around each year, we know it’s an emotional day for all of our Finalists. Anticipation, curiosity, thrill, disappointment… you name it! If you were not matched, we’re here to tell you that it’s going to be all right. The college admission process is a journey, and you have many bright paths ahead of you.

Remember these important things:

You are a QuestBridge Finalist, which is an incredible achievement that colleges recognize.

Remember how excited you were when you found out you were a Finalist? Don’t forget that feeling! There’s a reason why you were excited — it’s because being a Finalist is a significant distinction. As you continue to apply to colleges through Regular Decision, this distinction will help you stand out as an applicant.

Don’t believe us? Check out what some of last year’s Finalists (who were not matched!) have to say… 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 38 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

Finding My Identity: QuestBridge Scholar Harpreet Singh’s Path to Emory

Harpreet Singh, QuestBridge Scholar, Emory ’17

QuestBridge Scholar Harpreet Singh (Emory ’17) has come a long way since applying for the National College Match in 2012. Originally from New Jersey, Harpreet ended up finding his college fit with a school 800 miles away that he had hardly heard of before being accepted. But that’s just the beginning of Harpreet’s transformative journey…

Since starting the National College Match application, I would say a lot has changed about me. I would say my self-confidence has increased. I would say I no longer doubt who I am and what my potential is. I would say I take risks more often than before. I would say I am proud to be who I am: a first-generation low-income student at a top-tier college.

What truly catalyzed this transformation, you may ask? I would say QuestBridge.
Continue reading

Dear QB: I’m on a college wait list. Now what?

DearQBIf you’ve been put on a college’s wait list, it may feel like you’re in the purgatory of college admissions decisions. Neither a clear “yes” nor a downright “no,” the wait list can be an unsettling place to be.

Although there isn’t a foolproof method to getting of a college’s wait list, we’re here to help you navigate this uncharted territory. Here are a few tips to help you demonstrate your continued interest to the college(s) at the top of your list: Continue reading

Time for a “Rematch”

Sunpreet Singh, 2015 National College Match Finalist
Sunpreet Singh, 2015 National College Match Finalist

I was at Buffalo Wild Wings eating away my tears. I’d just opened my match results and, like thousands of other Finalists, I found out that I wasn’t matched. I cried. A lot. I put hours of work into not only my QuestBridge application, but also my supplements and I somewhat felt like I got rejected. However, this truly couldn’t be further from the truth.

What I’m trying to say is that this is not at all a time of grief or sorrow. We should be immensely proud of our peers who have been matched, and, likewise, they should also be very supportive for non-matched Finalists looking ahead to the Regular Decision and Early Action/Decision processes. Continue reading

When You Don’t Make the List (For Now)

David Guirgis, 2015 Finalist and QuestBridge Blogger
David Guirgis, 2015 Finalist and QuestBridge Blogger

I cried like a child on December 1, but I wasn’t crying because I didn’t match; I cried because I was so happy for everyone. (Masculinity may be fragile but so are my emotions.) I’ve met a million wonderful people through QuestBridge, people I wish I’d met a million years before. And seeing their success—their hard work and the way they powered through lives that weren’t picture-perfect—pay off in such a grand fashion made me feel that much more special, because I’d become a part of their story the way they’d become a part of mine.
Continue reading

Dear QB: What are the benefits of being a Quest Scholar, and are they the same if you’re admitted through the Match or Regular Decision?

DearQBIt’s almost easier to answer this question in reverse order.

Who is a Quest Scholar? Anyone who was selected as a Finalist and was then accepted to and decided to attend any one of the QuestBridge partner schools. The three primary paths to becoming a Quest Scholar are:

1. You are matched through the National College Match.

2. You are admitted to a partner school through Early Action or Early Decision and decide to enroll.

3. You are admitted to a partner school through Regular Decision and decide to enroll.

But here’s the thing – there’s no hierarchy between Matched and non-Matched students! That’s because there are many considerations that go into selecting students for the College Match package.At the end of the day, Quest Scholars are Quest Scholars whether they matched or not, and that bond supersedes exactly how one was accepted to college.

It’s important to remember that if you weren’t matched with any schools you ranked that you were not rejected from them. That bears repeating: schools that did not match with you did not reject you. You can (and should!) apply to them again for Regular Decision.

In fact, the majority of Quest Scholars have been admitted through Regular Decision. Last year, 440 Finalists were matched to one of our partner schools, but over 1,000 Finalists decided to attend our partner schools via Regular Decision.

So now that you know who a Quest Scholar is and the many paths to becoming one, let’s talk about just a few of the benefits of being a Quest Scholar.

  1. You are automatically a member of the Quest Scholars Network. There are many opportunities this gives you access to, but the most important is the most simple: a supportive community that understands where you’re coming from. Each of our partner schools has a Quest Scholars Chapter filled with wonderful individuals who are there for each other.
  2. You have access to fantastic financial aid. Obviously, the College Match Scholarship is a great deal, but don’t forget about financial aid that these colleges offer to all admitted students! While it varies per specific situation, Quest Scholars often find that their financial aid is comparable to a Match package, or at the very least makes it affordable for them to attend a college they never thought they’d be able to pay for.
  3. You are connected with leadership, career, and service opportunities. Your journey doesn’t stop after your admission to college, and the Quest Scholars Network is there to support you during college and beyond. Be a Liaison, Group Leader, Ambassador, Quest Mentor, summer intern – the opportunities are endless and growing!

Match, RD – it doesn’t really matter how you become a Quest Scholar. What matters is what you do once you are one!

DearQB is an advice column for QuestBridge applicants and Quest Scholars. It is answered by QuestBridge staff and Quest Scholars. To submit to DearQB, email

Not Matched?

The VaseYou spent your day in anticipation (and possibly starvation, if you’re of an ultra-nervous disposition like me) only to find yourself drenched in utter disappointment. I regret to inform you…. This is the moment when you want to let go—all the late-late nights with your not-so-favorite textbooks have gone to waste, the pains on sporting fields were endured in vain. Solace from your friends or parents flies out one ear as soon as it enters the other. A braid of doubts, regrets, and panic refuses to untangle even late into the night as you ponder what has gone wrong, what steps to take next, what awaits on the other side.

Let me preface the following spiel by telling you that I was not matched. Nonetheless, through QuestBridge Regular Decision, I was admitted to three of my top choices (Princeton, Stanford, and Dartmouth) and was offered generous financial aid packages.

One thing you must understand about college admissions is its unpredictability. As my counselor once put it, applying to top tier universities is like buying a lottery ticket. According to QuestBridge statistics, only 440 out of 4,773 Finalists received College Match Scholarships last year. Nonetheless, more than 1,500 Finalists were admitted to a partner school through Regular Decision. The fact is clear—whether you were admitted early is not at all an indicator of how your merits compare to other applicants. The colleges you ranked may still be very interested in you. On the bright side, not being matched also renders you freedom to explore a fascinating array of colleges. Truth be told, most of my Questie peers at Princeton and at other institutions were not match recipients (in fact, I’ve yet to meet one).

This leads me to my quintessential advice: DO NOT let not getting matched be an excuse to stop working hard. There’s still a long way to go before the final decisions are released. If you want to gage the attention of a college you’ve ranked, try drafting update letters or emails detailing your academic and extracurricular accomplishments in the past few weeks. Depending on individual school policies, you can seek supplemental recommendations to add to your portfolio. For schools you didn’t rank, reflect on your experiences from writing the first set of essays and start preparing applications right away. Piling up everything to plow through during winter break is a terrible idea, and you should never wait until the clock ticks down to January 1st. Remember, colleges are looking for applicants who are genuinely excited to attend their institution. Prove your passion with your actions.

There’s nothing pleasant about opening a disappointing e-letter on a cold, brisk December day. However, remember that there are thousands of Quest Scholars who had to bear through the same grim couple of hours yet ultimately ended up in the school of their dreams. In Chinese, the character for crisis is identical to the one for opportunity. Let the match decision be a motivator to push your limits. Patience brews strength, and it surely will make the fruits of spring sweeter.

Jessica Li, Quest Scholar, Princeton ’18