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

It Takes a Community to Build a Home

Leslie Luqueno, QuestBridge Scholar, Haverford College ’20

A bit over a year ago, I was accepted through Early Decision to my top-choice school, Haverford College. But first-quarter-high-school-senior me would have never imagined myself attending a small liberal arts college across the country. I was set on attending well-known, large research universities, but after attending Haverford’s fly-in in October, I knew that it was the place that felt most like home. Abandoning my original dream institutions was not easy and there were many factors I had to take into account to see if it was worth going across the country, leaving my beloved golden state behind. Continue reading

Dear QB: How can I find a summer job to help pay for college?

DearQBIf you have already received your financial aid package, you may have seen the term “Summer Work Contribution,” which is a common component of financial aid. This is the amount of money you are expected to save this upcoming summer to bring with you to college.

Why is this so important? Well, this money is your responsibility to earn. Be sure to arrive on campus with this money on hand or else you will be short during the year. Here are a few tips to make sure you stay on track to earn your summer work contribution: Continue reading

Q&A with Quest for Excellence Arts Winner Sisam Bhandari

Paty Calderon, 2016 College Prep Scholar and Quest for Excellence Award Winner
Sisam Bhandari, 2016 College Prep Scholar and Quest for Excellence Award Winner

Last year, Sisam Bhandari applied to the College Prep Scholars Program and received a full scholarship to a summer program through the Quest for Excellence Arts Award. During her summer at the Rhode Island School of Design, Sisam was challenged to think of both her art and her interests in exciting new ways. We spoke with Sisam to learn more!


How did you initially learn about the Quest for Excellence Arts Award, and why did you decide to apply?

I was a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar and heard about the Quest for Excellence Arts Award through the QuestBridge application, QuestBridge emails, and also through other students in a Facebook group.

Leading up to the program, what were you most excited about?

I was most excited to experience the “college experience”—  living with a roommate, making new friends, and working tirelessly to learn about something I was very passionate about. Continue reading

Finally Finding My Niche at a National College Admissions Conference

20160109_125602If someone ever looked at my notebooks from school, it was easy to tell that I wanted to go to college. Stickers ranging from “I love UC Berkeley” to “Future Harvard Student” were plastered on the covers, and my extensive college list was on at least one page of each of my notebooks. However, the closer I got to the end of my junior year, the smaller the list would get, until the point where I did not find anywhere I wanted to go. Sure, some of these schools looked great on paper, but I could not find a place I could call “home.” Was I being too pessimistic? Why didn’t I like the schools everyone wanted to go to? With only a summer left to finalize my college list, I pondered on millions of these questions, wondering if I would ever find “the one.” It wasn’t until I attended the National College Admissions Conference at Stanford that I discovered the place I would fit in.
Continue reading

Paty’s Quest for Excellence in the Bahamas

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Paty Calderon, 2016 College Prep Scholar and Quest for Excellence Award Winner

When Paty Calderon applied to the College Prep Scholars Program last year, she received a full scholarship to a summer program through the Quest for Excellence STEM Award that took her on an amazing journey of discovery and learning in the Bahamas. Read Paty’s story below!


Upon researching the QuestBridge summer programs awarded to College Prep Scholars, I was amazed by the opportunity of researching with the Island School in the Bahamas. I have always been very passionate about the environment and how marine life is affected by human actions, so the Island School was the perfect place for me to engage and learn with my surroundings through important research I really cared about. Continue reading

Why should I apply to be a College Prep Scholar?

If you’re a junior in high school, the reality of applying to college may be starting to sink in. 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:

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“Being a College Prep Scholar prepared me for the college application process like no other prep program could. It also gave me the confidence that I could really make it through the Match and one day call one of the nation’s top schools ‘my school.'”

Evan L., 2016 College Prep Scholar, Duke University ’21
Continue reading

Dear QB: How do I fight senioritis?

DearQBSen·ior·i·tis (noun)

A supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.

If you’re a high school senior, you have likely been forewarned by your counselor, teachers, or parents about “senioritis.” Graduation is now less than six months away and it can be tempting to slip into a senioritis state of mind. But now — more than ever! — it’s important to stay on track. To make this part easier on you, we’ve compiled our tips to help you fight senioritis: 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