Questbridge Applications

Nicole Olekanma

It is now the season where many seniors are making decisions about colleges. It is also the season where juniors are taking SATs and starting to think about applying to different colleges. One college application besides the CommonApp is QuestBridge, a program that seeks to give high-achieving, low-income students a chance to attend the most elite schools at more affordable prices. In this interview, Kevin Durand and Jessica Hsu give two different perspectives on what it’s like to apply for college through QuestBridge.  

How did you hear about the program?   

Durand found out about QuestBridge through a senior who recommended it to him when he was a junior. Hsu heard about the program in school and also through an email.  

Why did they choose to submit a QuestBridge application? 

Durand was set on applying to college through QuestBridge in his junior year. So, by the time the applications came out, he was ready to start applying. Hsu submitted a QuestBridge application because she saw that it was a good opportunity for students to apply and if matched, be granted need-based financial aid. 

When did they start the application and how long did it take?   

Durand started his application in late August which is when the applications opened because he wanted to start working on it quickly before the deadline. Hsu started the application about two weeks before the September 28 deadline. However, she advises future applicants to QuestBridge to start applying earlier to give themselves more flexibility and time to look over and edit anything. 

What help did they receive with their applications? 

Both students completed the application by themselves, but Durand did ask his teacher Mr. Roderick to read over one of his essays. He also reached out to Mrs. Ferguson for his “school specific information” and the information that he needed to put on his financial documents regarding the school.  

How was their experience filling out the application? 

Durand claims that the process was “long and tedious” because of the various parts of the application and the various prompts that had to be filled out. He states that the financial aid part took the longest to complete. For him, the application process wasn’t necessarily difficult, but rather meticulous since he had to keep track of all the information filled out.

Hsu claims that fulfilling all the components within the application was a long process. QuestBridge sends the full National College Match application to the schools that a student ranked but when applicants advance to the finalist stage, more requirements may be needed to be sent directly to the colleges by a certain date including transcripts, recommendation letters, and financial aid documents. Hsu notes that the one of the most important things to do during this process is to be mindful of deadlines and keep track of all the papers that each school needs.  

What were their results?  

Durand ended up matching with Columbia University and is excited to be going there. Kevin can attend Columbia University with a full ride and he also now has access to the “QuestBridge network that exists in all the universities which helps out with smaller things like textbooks and other things.”

Hsu became a finalist but did not match with any schools. However, Jessica congratulates those who did and acknowledges the accomplishments of the applicants who stood out whether it is their “stellar academics, their compelling story, or their fervent passions and hobbies.” 

What have they learned from the entire experience?  

Durand has learned that he should stay on top of everything he needs to do since the QuestBridge process was such a long and tedious process. Hsu has learned that although QuestBridge doesn’t guarantee a match, it offers students a chance to showcase their story and qualifications. The competition is intense, so it is recommended for each applicant to prioritize their goals and do research on the pros/cons to determine whether applying through QuestBridge or the CommonApp will better meet their needs.