We’ve discussed financial aid and scholarships before, but in this article, we want to highlight a specific opportunity for high-achieving students. QuestBridge is an organization dedicated to helping high achieving but financially disadvantaged students apply to and pay for college, and awards a number of large scholarships each year to serve this goal.
In this article, we’ll break down what QuestBridge is, whether it’s right for you, and how to apply for it. While QuestBridge isn’t right for every student, it can be an amazing resource for some. Let’s get started!
Founded in 1987, QuestBridge seeks to match high-achieving students with top colleges. The students they work with come from underprivileged backgrounds, and the organization awards a large number of generous scholarships. These scholarships pay for the full cost of tuition and help with other costs. Students are sometimes expected to participate in work-study programs as part of these programs.
QuestBridge originally only partnered with Stanford, and they are still based in Palo Altos in California. Now, however, they have 45 college partners, which comprise many of the country’s top research universities and liberal arts colleges.
Students apply for the program, and as part of this created a ranked list of up to 12 schools they wish to apply to. Qualified students are selected as finalists, and these students have their QuestBridge application sent directly to the schools they ranked as part of their application. Students who match with a school through this process are awarded scholarships. Matching with a school through QuestBridge is usually binding.
Students who do not match in the initial round are allowed to submit their QuestBridge application to other partner schools in the Regular Decision round of admissions. While getting admitted this way does not award a scholarship through QuestBridge, many of these schools offer large financial aid packages, and all application fees are waived for QuestBridge students.
QuestBridge applicants are evaluated holistically; they have no hard cutoffs for grades, test scores, or financial circumstances. That said, they do have recommended benchmarks for applicants, both academic and financial. These are:
This seems like a lot, but what QuestBridge is looking for is the same thing as top colleges. They want to make sure the students that are accepted as finalists will be able to succeed at the country’s top schools, and these metrics are seen as the best indicators for future success. The financial criteria are meant to ensure that QuestBridge’s resources go to the students who need them the most.
If you are a high achieving student from a disadvantaged academic background, we encourage you to apply to QuestBridge. The program is meant to help you achieve, and they are always looking for great students.
Applications for QuestBridge are submitted online and are due in September. This is far in advance of any college application deadlines.
The timeline for this alters slightly every year but follows the same general pattern. Applications open in late summer and are due in September. You are not able to edit or update your application after it is submitted. You use the same application for all schools; if you are not admitted into one of your initial ranked schools, you reuse the same application to apply to QuestBridge partner schools’ regular decisions.
Students selected as QuestBridge Finalists have three options for sharing their QuestBridge application with Yale. Yale has no preference for any option, and no option increases an applicant’s chances of admission or the size of their financial aid offer.
You meet students who are just like you
A big thing about QuestBridge is to be socially connected. Thus, every year, the QB staff throws together Facebook groups for the CPS and NCM finalists. It’s a place for kids of all kinds of diverse backgrounds to be united behind their shared low-income status and academic prowess. I remember how shy I was when I first entered the QB 2017 NCM finalist group. I didn’t know what to do. It was like the first day of school all over again—what do I say? But it turned out to be a blast! Not only did I make tons of new friends (many of whom became very near and dear to my heart these past couple of months), but we formed our own little communities: writing groups, calculus chats, rant forums—you name it, we’ve made it! And it became a resource that was sometimes even necessary for us. On these groups, we weren’t just another kid struggling to make it big in the world—we had each other. We’re a family. And should you become part of the QuestBridge experience, you’ll be part of it too.
There are many other reasons why one should apply to QuestBridge (for free, by the way!), but these are the best ones. And don’t forget the most important perk of all—being a part of QB makes you one step closer to a free education at one of the world’s finest universities. Now who could pass that up?
Find the QuestBridge partner schools on our Featured School Profiles page to learn more about them before applying to the program.
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Lydia Abedeen is a (stark-raving SANE) writer based in Orlando. She writes because, in the end, its all she has. Its the one gift that shes always willing to share, and the one thing that people truly appreciate when she gives it to them. Thus, she makes it her job to never stop gifting the world with a little bit more of her wisdom. And so, she shares some of it with you today.
It looks good on college applications
If you don’t match with any QuestBridge school on Match Day, it’s not the end of the world. The majority of QB NCM finalists receive admission via Early Action, Early Decision, and Regular Decision—so there you go! Plus, if you don’t match to any of your ranked schools, you can just apply to them again via Early Decision (for some schools) or Regular Decision. So there’s really nothing to lose by trying! But moving on—being a QB College Prep Scholar and/or National College Match finalist is an accomplishment in its own right. Only around 3,500 students are selected globally for the National College Match (with similar numbers for College Prep Scholars), so even if you don’t apply to a QB partner school with this on your résumé, it shows the dedication and accomplishment you truly possess as a student, so it can only help. And if you have it on your résumé and you’re applying to a QB partner school, well, you’re truly a force to be reckoned with, as QB NCM finalists and College Prep Scholars are favored over regular applicants at these schools.
QB guides you with the college application process ASAP
If you manage to become a College Prep Scholar in your junior year, consider yourself blessed. QuestBridge is good to their Scholars—the first piece of correspondence you receive is essay feedback, which is priceless! Plus, as summer arrives and you segue into senior year, QB provides College Prep Scholars with various tools such as college application preparation lectures, free school fly-ins, and reduced-price summer programs, giving a CPS the best head-start into the whole mess that is college applications, and, ultimately, admissions. It doesn’t sound like much, but to someone who is serious about the college application process, these tools are matchless, so take advantage of it! (Plus, College Prep Scholars receive early access to the NCM application in the summer.)
What are the chances of getting into QuestBridge?
Do QuestBridge applicants have an advantage?
Does being a QuestBridge finalist help?
How many QuestBridge finalists get matched to Yale?