By Shania Kuo
Many high schools don’t advertise college preparation opportunities that are available outside of what the schools offer. Students have to research these opportunities on their own. Since many high school scholars have a packed schedule, there are only a select few who find these opportunities. When I was in 10th grade, I told my counselor about my circumstances, and she recommended a program called QuestBridge. There was no real explanation of what it was, only that it was a scholarship program. Since I was only a 10th grader, there wasn’t much else that I could take advantage of at the time. So, I signed up for the newsletter and forgot about it.
When I was in 11th grade, I got an email telling me about the College Prep Scholars program and encouraging me to sign up. I didn’t give much thought to it at the time, thinking that it wasn’t really that important. The application itself almost
deterred me from applying altogether, given how long it was. But, I figured the experience would be worthwhile since I could use it for my college applications the following year.
It was with great joy and surprise that I found out I became a prep scholar. The award was given to only 3,968 students out of 11,600. I joined a network of highly motivated and academically successful students my age all across the United States, and some internationally as well. This network motivated me to apply to top colleges in the United States. My mentality of “I can’t do it” changed to “I can do it.”
As one of my rewards for becoming a prep scholar, I got to visit Yale University for a QuestBridge conference. There, they told me all about the college process, and I got to meet with admissions officers. I made new friends, and the experience gave me the confidence I needed for the application process.
This year, I applied for the National College Match, a scholarship that offers the possibility to win a full ride to one of QuestBridge’s 40 partner colleges. I was one of the 6,507 seniors chosen out of 16,284 to become a finalist. Even though I didn’t get the scholarship, QuestBridge gave me the opportunity to apply to top colleges for free and let me use my QuestBridge application to apply. The QuestBridge application offers more than twice the amount of information available, so colleges can really see who you are.
There are some basic guidelines for consideration to the National College Match. For 2018 finalists, the average GPA was a 3.0, the middle 50% of SAT scores were 1320-1450, and the middle ACT scores were 28-32. 86% of students were in the top 10% in their school. The median household income was $35,000, and 79% of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
For those who are close to these requirements, I implore you to apply. The Prep Scholars application is open now, and the National College Match opens in August. QuestBridge broadened my horizons, and I hope it does for you as well.
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