Admissions Officer Insight: Get to Know Swarthmore College

As Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions at Swarthmore College, Andrew Moe has great insight into the academics and campus life of  the small liberal arts college located in southeastern Pennsylvania. Get to know Swarthmore and see if it’s a good fit for you!

Andrew Moe, Swarthmore College, Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions

Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts college in southeastern Pennsylvania, is a bit different than most places.  The following list represents just a few of our favorite things about Swat:

Small size, plentiful options.  We enroll just over 1,500 students, and nearly everyone lives on campus all four years.  Almost 40% of our classes have nine or fewer students, and yet, our students choose from over 600 courses offered each year.  Additionally, we are part of the Tri-College Consortium, where you can take classes and engage in social activities at Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College – just a free shuttle ride away.  And if that’s not enough, you can even register to take courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Find Your College Fit

Don’t know where to start your research for ranking colleges? Colorado College Admission Counselor Skyler Paltell gave us her tips for finding the best college fit for you. 

Skyler Paltell, Colorado College, Admission Counselor

High school seniors around the country are wrapping up their college searches and swapping road trips in favor of college applications. But, in the frenzy of application season and the pressure to gain acceptance to colleges, students often forget the importance of fit when it comes to selecting a college. The best way to ensure your college search process results in a great fit college is to thoroughly research schools that interest you, so that come May, you’re off to a college that suits both your academic and personal preferences.

Below, I’ve listed a few of the most helpful college characteristics to research and consider when choosing colleges to apply to: Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Get to Know Carleton College

As an Admissions Counselor at Carleton College and an alumna, class of 2014, Holly Buttrey knows Carleton College better than almost anyone. Located in Northfield, Minnesota, Carleton offers many “favorite things” with its small town charm and big city opportunity nearby in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Holly’s list of favorite things will help you determine if Carleton is a good fit for you! 

Holly Buttrey, Carleton College, Admissions Counselor

I assume you are all familiar with Maria’s long, melodic list of favorite things in The Sound of Music, but perhaps you know a little less about Carleton. Now, I am not much of a singer, but I can, however, share my favorite things about Carleton:

  • Chocolate chip cookies at 1 a.m. (or any time for that matter)
  • Wooden Adirondack chairs
  • Warm woollen mittens (just like Maria!)
  • Friedrich von Schiller
  • Farm House
  • Cheesy Sayles quesadillas Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Five App Tips from Pomona College

If you’re working on your application, make sure you review Ashley Pallie’s top five application tips … including her bonus tip at the end!

Ashley Pallie, Pomona College, Associate Dean of Admissions

1. Tell your truth. As you’ve all probably heard many, many times, the QuestBridge application is an opportunity for high-achieving, low-income students to apply to some fantastic colleges and universities across the United States. Take a moment to think about the power of this process; some of the best institutions in the country are saying that the unique life experiences you have lived are important to the fabric of their schools. At Pomona, diversity of experiences is at core of our institutional identity. The QuestBridge application gives you the opportunity to talk about who you are, to delve deeper into your background and how you’ve come to be the person you are today, and to tell an admissions officer what excites you intellectually.

Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Five App Tips from Rice University

We know you’re looking for insiders’ tips about the college admissions process. Tamara Siler, Senior Associate Director of Admission & Coordinator of Minority Recruitment at Rice University, shares her top five application tips to help you fill out the best possible National College Match application!

Tamara Siler, Rice University, Senior Associate Director of Admissions & Coordinator of Minority Recruitment 
  1. Be sure to answer the question being asked, whether it is a short response or an essay. In addition to the QuestBridge College Match Application, the Common Application, or the Universal College Application, you may be also responding to a college specific supplement to these applications.  Some will give you a choice of question, but some are questions specific to the institution.  Read the question carefully and make sure your response specifically addresses the prompt.

2. You may get asked a similar application question in a number of places. Do not simply cut and paste a previous response to address the question, which basically means you are submitting the same writing sample twice.  Continue reading

Admissions Officer Insight: Five App Tips from Amherst College

Looking for insiders’ tips about the college admissions process? Sara Cohen, Former Assistant Dean of Admission at Amherst College, shares her top five application tips to help you fill out the best possible National College Match application!

Sara Cohen, Former Amherst College Assistant Dean of Admission

1. Organize the “Activities” section of the QuestBridge or Common Application to list entries in descending order of importance to you. In other words, start your list with the activities that you spend the most time doing, have been involved in for the longest period of time, or have developed leadership roles within, so that admission counselors will see your most important activities first.

2. List all your activities, even those that might not seem like “traditional” extracurriculars. If you work at a part-time or full-time job during the summer or school year, tell us. If you spend time taking care of a family member, caring for younger siblings, or maintaining responsibilities at home, tell us. Continue reading

Not Matched? Me Neither


It’s finally that time of year again -– holiday music and hot apple cider, snow flurries and fuzzy socks, family, friends, and gifts galore -– but for hundreds of high school seniors, this holiday season has brought with it the epitome of all miracles. After months of slaving away at college applications and spending countless hours perfecting every letter of every word of every essay, a new batch of QuestBridge National College Match Finalists discovered on December 2 that they had been matched with a full financial aid package to one of QuestBridge’s thirty-five partner colleges, which rank among the most prestigious in the nation and in the world.

These students will just now be beginning to breathe easy for the first time in months, because they have made it. They have conquered. They have singled themselves out as some of the nation’s best and brightest. They, despite every obstacle, have been accepted.

I remember that day. I remember the evening decisions were released. I remember waiting with bated breath and a pounding heart for that one momentous e-mail to ping into my inbox. And I remember the rejection. I remember that exact moment when all my hopes and dreams seemed to deflate like a popped balloon. I remember the aching disappointment and the helpless frustration. I was not matched with any of the eight schools I ranked, and I remember that rejection and the many more I faced after as six of the ten colleges I applied to turned me down one after the other.

But what do I remember more than all the rest? More than all the rejection? More than all the disappointment? I remember the moment I was accepted to the college of my dreams through Regular Decision, accepted to the college I had ranked as my number one choice in the Match. My happy ending may not have come when I would have liked, but it was as fairy tale perfect as one could hope for.

To all of those finalists who were not matched last week, you may not yet be able to breathe easy, but know that your dreams are as real and possible as ever. Do not lose hope. Take every rejection as a challenge to succeed, and tackle those Regular Decision applications with all you’ve got. Just one year ago, I was in your shoes, but in the end, I received an acceptance and a phenomenal financial aid package from Yale University — my number one choice. While it’s not yet time to breathe easy, it’s also not yet time to hyperventilate, to have a panic attack, or to go flat out comatose. Take a deep breath. Count to ten.

And get to work.

— by Juliette Grantham, Quest Scholar, Yale ’17

This post was originally published on 10/14/13 on the Quest Scholars Network blog.