You’re Being Too Hard On Yourself

For some reason, our generation seems to glorify studying hard. All-nighters, caffeine, and cramming for that quiz right before class. Sound familiar? Well, if it does and you find yourself dozing off to the lecture about Maxwell-Boltzmann distributions, let me tell you something: you’re being too hard on yourself. Not only are you exhausting your brain and your own physical health, but you are also doing no help to your academic performance by overworking yourself.
Continue reading

An Open Letter to My Mentor

Dear Mentor,

Maybe I say it too much, maybe I don’t say it at all, but let me put it out there right now: thank you.

For all that you’ve done, do, and may do in the future. You are so appreciated. You swept in to guide me, even when you didn’t need to, selflessly, patiently, and full heartedly. You knew coming into this type of relationship that they serve mainly as a one-way street, where you teach and give all that you can, and I attempt to absorb it all, and you stayed anyway.
Continue reading

Do I Really Have To Do This Every Semester?

Let’s face it. Many of us won’t get the “dream” class schedule. You know… the one with early classes (nothing before 11 a.m.), that all end early (nothing past 3 p.m.), and here’s the kicker: no class on Fridays. I’ve only heard rumors of those types of schedules, but that does not mean you cannot make the most out of every semester at your university.

If you’re anything like me, picking courses each semester is much like deleting old e-mails: you have to do it eventually, but letting the task marinate seems like a better idea most days.
Continue reading

Beating the Winter Blues as a Sunny State Student


If you’ve already been accepted into college, you’re probably thinking, “What now?” Well, you have to complete the FAFSA, continue your schoolwork, and daydream about what your college experiences will be like while doing so. However, one facet of college life that students often overlook is the climate of the state they’ll be moving to in just a few months. I was one of those students and I wish I could’ve prepared a lot more for Connecticut’s climate during summer in Florida. Below is a list of ways you can beat the winter blues when coming from a sunny state, whether it be Florida, California, or Texas, and how to plan ahead – and what to expect – for the climate in a timely manner.
Continue reading

Dear QB: How do I talk about QuestBridge in interviews?

DearQBWhether you’re a freshman in college or wrapping up your senior year, you’re likely applying for internships or jobs this time of year. When it comes time to interview, you don’t have to be afraid of highlighting QuestBridge. In fact, you can use it to your advantage to highlight your strengths and set yourself apart from other interviewees. Here are a few ways you can leverage your QuestBridge story:
Continue reading

Capitalizing on College

This month we’re featuring posts from Quest Scholars who have learned (or are learning!) savvy spending tips for college, including searching for outside scholarships and financial aid tips. Keep reading and stay tuned for more!  

Jokes about the perpetually broke financial state of college students and the inundation of memes on the internet about the emptiness of student wallets plague our generation’s perception of college. Yes, college is expensive. But colleges are, to many people’s surprise, taking steps to help low-income students.
Continue reading

Paying for College: The Search for Outside Funds

January is a good time to plan ahead for education-related expenses in the coming months. Quest Scholar Alum Victoria Turner shares her first-hand experience finding the best outside funding options available for students. Make sure you check with your financial aid office to see how outside funds can be applied to your financial aid package. 

paying for collegeThe aid package you receive from the financial aid office can determine whether you attend a school. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than receiving an acceptance to a college you love when the accompanying aid letter doesn’t match what you need. Luckily, financial aid officers and organizations like QuestBridge work hard to fund you. If you’ve sent out your very best applications, just sit back and cross your fingers, toes, and any other crossable appendages while you wait for letters.
Continue reading

A Brief Guide to Internship Applications

DInternships Blog Photoecember begins soon, and in addition to cinnamon and nutmeg, the sweet scent of internships is in the air. The path to an internship can be long and winding for those of us who don’t finish our first semester of college with a clean set of A’s, or who realize they have an interest in an area late in their undergraduate years. Those who cannot break into the field will find it harder and harder to secure their first internship when competing for spots with those who have more experience. The gap only widens each year.
Continue reading

Dear QB: What questions should I ask when researching colleges?


Now that you have submitted your National College Match application, it’s time to research colleges you’re interested in attending.

Here are some suggestions for questions you should be asking the colleges and asking yourself during your research:

Questions to ask college representatives or on a campus visit:

  • What is one thing that students might not know about your college?
  • What type of student would be an excellent fit for your school?
  • What advice do you have for students who live far away from your school and are thinking about applying?
  • What kind of support does your college offer for first-generation or low-income students?
  • What are some of the most popular clubs/activities on your campus?
  • What is one thing about your school that makes it unique?

Questions to ask yourself to decide if a college is a good fit for you:

  • Does the school offer the majors and programs you’re interested in?
  • Does the school offer programs that benefit your career goals?
  • Would a big school or a small school be better fit for you?
  • Does the setting (urban, suburban, small town) excite you?
  • What interests you, and do the schools on your list provide an outlet for your extracurricular interests?

There are many other questions that you could ask. Check out our Choosing Colleges page to read more!


A guide for freshmen, from Kosovo – by “a country girl”


It’s Throwback Thursday on the Bridge Blog today! We’re featuring a post from 2013 by a Quest Scholars Network Blogger who attended Notre Dame and spent time abroad to further her studies in Kosovo. It may be a throwback, but the advice is timeless! 

After seven weeks alone in Kosovo, I’ve developed this talent for acting like I know what I’m doing, when in actuality I have no idea. Whether it’s navigating the impossible maze of city buses in Pristina or haggling with a grocery store clerk in broken Albanian, there are at least five instances every day that involve me feeling completely lost on the inside while having to maintain some semblance of poise on the outside.

And this feeling has reminded me of being a freshman.

So I thought I would share these five tips for incoming Notre Dame freshmen, inspired by a summer in Kosovo. Here it goes:

  1. Create a coffee budget. I promise, it’s worth it. At Notre Dame, you’ll arrive feeling like a big shot, rolling in flex points upon flex points of spending money. Skip forward two months and you’ll have spent it all on late night Starbucks lattes. Factoring in a budget for those lattes will make life so much more bearable when it’s finals week and you still have spending money for caffeine fixes. Here in Kosovo it’s the same situation; every day I realize how much money is lost in macchiatos … yet for some reason, my grant program wouldn’t fund me for this expenditure.
  2. Meeting new people is always positive. You will spend much of next year struggling to remember names, faces, and dorms as you wade through the sea of Irish business majors on your way to class. You’ll meet hundreds of wonderful people, people who will inspire and amaze you with their kindness. You’ll also meet people who will make you want to run screaming in the opposite direction. It’s important to remember that both kinds of encounters are equally positive. Both can teach you something about yourself, and both have the potential to help you grow. So even though it may get tiring after the first few weeks of constant introductions, remember that meeting new people will only ever be positive. It’s the same in Kosovo; I’ve been equally honored to meet the Prime Minister and a homeless woman named Zamira. Both have impacted me.
  3. Check the weather forecast. The weather in South Bend, Indiana, is sadly just as unpredictable as the weather here in Eastern Europe. Several times in both locations, I’ve been caught in the middle of a rainstorm wearing a white shirt and open-toed sandals or shivering in the morning only to boil in the afternoon – the temperature constantly shifts throughout the day. This all will be averted if you’re a little sensible about checking the weather forecast in the morning. It’s all a click away online … and for your daily random act of kindness, read it aloud to your future roommate!
  4. Call home, sometimes. For some of you, college will be the farthest away from home you’ve ever been. For many of you, it will be the longest away from home you’ve ever been. It’s important to know that all of you will get homesick at some point. Whether it’s your memory foam bed mattress, your high school football games or your wonderful labrador retriever, there will be some parts of life that you can’t bring along to college, and that’s painful. Every day in Kosovo I wish I could have brought my little sister along … and also my air conditioning unit. Just remember that while it’s healthy to call home once in a while, there is an entire world of new experiences and aforementioned incredible new people waiting to meet you. Try not to let your phone calls/Skype dates/FaceTime sessions come between you and those moments too often.
  5. Humans make mistakes. If researching in Kosovo has taught me anything, it’s that humans make mistakes. And sometimes at a school like ND you’ll forget that – because everyone is so wonderful. Our admissions office loves telling us, “You were picked for a reason, you’re the best of the best,” but being the best of the best doesn’t mean being perfect. It doesn’t mean setting the curve for every exam and winning the election in every club, all while smiling and laughing and self-actualizing. Freshman year is going to be difficult, and the difficult bits are what make it so beautiful. I hope you’ll be able to look back on your freshman mistakes and think, “Those were only one small part of who I became this year.” In the long run, you’re going to be more than okay; you’re going to be someone amazing.

If you’re an incoming freshman reading this, welcome to the Notre Dame family!

— by Brenna Gautam, Quest Scholar, Notre Dame ’14

This was originally posted on 7/11/2013 on the Quest Scholars Network Blog.