Dear Incoming Seniors,
I bet you're worried about the application process that you'll suffer through this fall. And I bet that with this economic dip, you're also worried about how to pay for all of those application fees, not to mention the costs of tuition, board, books, and other living costs.
If you're a high-achieving, low-income student, the Questbridge application process is something you should definitely take a look at!
Questbridge has two programs- the College Prep Scholarship, and the College Match program.
The College Prep Scholarship is for juniors. This scholarship has various prizes such as full rides to take summer classes at universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. You can also get college counseling, all-expenses-paid campus visits, and mentors who have already been through the college process.
The College Match program, however, is the "real deal". It's a college application process for students who have fought poverty and other hardships to succeed. If you're one of the 200+ students to be matched to a college, you are guaranteed a full ride to one of the amazing partner schools. Who are the partner schools? Well, MIT, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford, just to name a few. Even Parsons The New School for Design is a partner college.
The application to be a part of the Match process is due September 30th. It's a whole month ahead of most early action/decision deadlines. This deadline actually helped me, though, since it forced me to finish my essays a lot sooner than I would have otherwise. By this deadline, you should also have a good idea about what colleges you want to apply to, since you must submit a ranked list of colleges in five days.
Now about the rankings... These rankings are NOT something you should take lightly. With the exception of MIT, Notre Dame, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale, the colleges' acceptance decisions are binding. Binding means that you are not allowed to apply to any other school and you are required to attend that school. Make sure that if you list a binding college, you know for sure that you want to go to that school.
You are informed of whether you were accepted to the Match Process in late October. Then, in just one week, you are expected to finish the remaining parts of the application that your ranked colleges require. Most colleges want you to submit the Common Application along with the Questbridge application which is automatically sent to your ranked schools. Because of the extremely short time you have between notification and the deadline, I advise that you start working on the Common Application long before you find out about your status.
The Match Process seems to be the most confusing aspect for a lot of people, but it's actually a rather simple process. The colleges are given the applications from all of the students that ranked them. From those applications, the colleges will pick out who they would like to accept and send that list to Questbridge. The colleges do NOT know the order of your ranked college list. Questbridge will then go through the student's ranked list. Whichever college that the student ranked the highest AND accepted him/her is the match. You will be informed of your match in early December.
But what if you're not matched? Don't worry, this happens to most of the students who go through the Match Process. In fact, this past year, out of the 2470 students who were accepted to the Match Process, only 260 of them got matched. This is what the Regular Decision cycle is for. If you were one of the 2210 students not matched, you can apply to the same schools using the same applications. However, just to be safe, I think you should also apply to a school that you know you'll be accepted to. I suppose you would call that your "back-up" school. We don't want you without a college to go to by the end of your senior year!
Now where is this application that I've spent this whole article talking about? Go to www.questbridge.org. Explore the website this summer so that you'll be familiar with it when applying.
Somebody told me last August that if I didn't learned something about myself from the application process, I'd wasted my time. Back then, I thought he was crazy. But looking back, he had an excellent point. Applying and writing these essays helped me on my path to discover more about who I am and what I want to do with my life. So take this all into perspective. College is just another step. Step back, look at the big picture, and find out for yourself that going to an Ivy League school is not the be all end all of your life.
Have fun your senior year. Discover new interests, make new friends, and most importantly, relax.
I wish you the very best of luck!