Why Should I Want to be a College Prep Scholar?


Sitting in the QuestBridge office, it can be easy to forget what it was like to be a high school junior. It seems obvious why anyone would want to apply to the College Prep Scholarship and it’s easy to forget how ominous the application can appear in the face of homework, extracurricular, and family responsibilities.

So let’s step outside the QuestBridge office. Here’s what you need to know, straight from last years’ College Prep Scholars.

The application is really long. Why should I take time to fill it out?

“The process of filling out the College Prep Scholarship application allowed me to get a taste of what the college process is like. I was definitely more prepared for the college process and for the College Match application after going through the process of filling out the College Prep Scholarship application.”
– Benjamin Bornstein, Rockaway Beach, NY

I’ve heard that everyone gets free test prep, but why is that such a big deal?

“Prior to being named a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar, I felt that my college application was not competitive with regards to my test scores. The QuestBridge test preparation award gave me the opportunity to take online SAT courses from Kaplan. I used this award a significant number of times. When I finally went in to take the college admissions test, my score increased substantially. Without QuestBridge, I would not have been able to afford a test preparation course and thus, would never have had extra resources that allowed me to receive a competitive test score.”
– Katherine Ochoa Castillo, Alexandria, VA

“The test preparation helped me to become a more competitive applicant because I was able to explore a new approach to studying for standardized tests and increase my test scores.”
– Jasmin Kamruddin, Duluth, GA

I know that many students are invited to attend one of the National College Admissions Conferences? Why does everyone rave about them?

“The National College Admissions Conference was an eye-opening experience. Up until then, I had been in the dark about the college admissions process. Being at the conference taught me valuable information that prepared me to become a well-informed, prepared college applicant.”
– Arriana Jones, Arizona City, AZ

“The National College Admissions Conference broke down the entire admissions process in a way that made it easy to understand. Hearing essay and application tips from actual admissions officers from the most prestigious schools in the nation definitely made me a more competitive applicant. Also, without the college fair at the conference I would have never even heard about the school that I have been matched to, Vassar College.”
– Leah Clark, Tuscaloosa, AL

“When I attended the QuestBridge College Admissions Conference at Princeton, it opened my eyes to all the opportunities that I have available. I learned some effective techniques in writing competitive college essays and how to make my application stand out among the many candidates. I also learned more about the QuestBridge partner schools.”
– Fatoumata Diallo, Bronx, NY

Is it worth applying if I’m not sure I’d be able to attend one of the conferences (if invited)?

“Yes. Although I was unable to attend the Conference, I received the PowerPoint presentation of everything that was presented at the conference. That material really helped me to understand what QuestBridge is. It was also one of the first things that helped me realized that I have a chance in pursuing my dream.”
– Zuly Maimaiti, Germantown, MD

“My 2014 College Prep Scholarship award was a huge benefit even though I had to decline attending the National College Admissions Conference at Northwestern. The distinction of being named a College Prep Scholar was hugely beneficial as were all of the QuestBridge informational emails, videos, and follow-ups sent throughout the summer about college admissions and counseling.  When I attended admissions sessions I was able to ask informed questions about the application requirements for admission to the top tier universities, thanks to my background research through QuestBridge.”
– Ethan Nelson, Scottsbluff, NE

The awards sound cool, but is there any other meaning to being designated a College Prep Scholar?

“The College Prep Scholar Award helped me realize that I truly was a competitive applicant because it’s an accomplishment in itself. The application process alone prepared me for what was to come in the fall.”
– Amaris Benavidez, Phoenix, AZ

“These awards helped me become more competitive not due to having been given more knowledge but because of being awarded in general. When I learned that I had been chosen as a College Prep Scholar and granted these awards I finally saw myself as being “smart.” I finally believed what everyone told me: “you’re smart,” “you can do whatever you want in life,” and “you work so hard.”
– Daniel Mayo, Surprise, AZ

So there it is, loud and clear: the College Prep Scholarship has the power to change lives. We invite you to explore all the awards offered (we didn’t have time to talk about all of them in this blog post!) and start your application today!

DearQB is an advice column for QuestBridge applicants and Quest Scholars. It is answered by QuestBridge staff and Quest Scholars. 

Knowledge Produces Confidence

Daniel and QuestBridge CEO Ana McCullough on National Quest Day.

[A note from QuestBridge: This is a special guest blog post about the College Prep Scholarship from Daniel Wilson, a Quest Scholar and a member of Quest’s staff!]

My name is Daniel Wilson. When I was told that I was a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar, I had no idea what that really meant. I knew that I was a good student, and I had filled out a CPS application, but what was next? In my case, I was invited to attend a National College Admissions Conference, but I had no idea whether it was worth putting in the effort to go. It turns out that it was definitely worth it. If I had not participated in the College Prep Scholarship program (CPS from now on because it’s sort of a mouthful), I honestly think that my life would be extremely different. The CPS program gave me the knowledge, the confidence, and the hope to later succeed in the college admissions process, and that success has been important in shaping who I am today.

When I was a junior in high school, I had no idea what was involved in applying to college. I knew I wanted to go to a good university because I love knowledge and learning, and I felt that better universities with more resources could provide a better learning experience. I just had no idea what those schools were looking for from an applicant. What do colleges want in an application essay? How should I explain my family’s circumstances? I didn’t know the answer to any of these questions at the time, but by the end of the CPS program, I not only had all of my questions answered but also had been pointed toward the resources I needed to figure out how to overcome any future difficulties in the application process.

Knowledge produces confidence. When I walked out of the conference, I said to myself, “I can do this,” and I wasn’t crazy. I knew what I needed to do to succeed in the college admissions process, and it really doesn’t have to be that scary when you know what you need to do. There’s a lot to process, and there’s a lot to do. College Prep Scholars are chosen, though, because Quest believes they have what it takes. It was great feeling that belief in me, and that’s one of many incredible things that Quest gave me that made me choose to come back and serve on Quest’s staff.

If I’m being completely honest, knowledge and academics were never simply ends for me to pursue as I grew up. To me they were also a means to escape my struggles. I was so stressed out and upset by my family’s situation, and I dreamed of a day when that wasn’t going to always be the case. One of the reasons I didn’t give up was because I felt like I couldn’t. Failure couldn’t be an alternative, but I didn’t know what was possible to aspire for. Quest helped change that. Unfortunately, going to a good university didn’t solve my family’s struggles, but it did give me access to an incredible range of opportunities for me to make a meaningful difference with my life.

For many of you, life has already presented plenty of obstacles to you, and you have had to decide whether it was worth it to pursue your dreams. I commend all of you for not giving up yet. You’ve made the right choice so far. Unfortunately, obstacles in life are still going to come, and it’s still going to be tough, at least for a while. I can honestly tell you that there’s something better out there for all of you. Working with Quest with the College Prep Scholarship program and hopefully more in the future can help you figure out how to do that, as it did for me. Regardless of what you choose to do, though, please don’t give up.