What You Need to Know When Applying to QuestBridge
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Aja Altenhof in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
QuestBridge is a non-profit program which streamlines the college application process for low-income and first-generation students. This article will explain how QuestBridge works and how you can become a part of it.
QuestBridge is a competitive program which provides selected scholars with college application assistance, including a special application portal and one-on-one advising. In order to apply to the program, you must submit:
- Your academic activities
- Household and financial background
- Two essays and a handful of short answer questions
- A school report from your high school counselor
- A school profile – this is optional, but recommended
- Your current high school transcript
- Any standardized test score that you want to report, including SAT, ACT, AP, or IB exam scores
Submitting a QuestBridge application is free, as is the program itself.
QuestBridge offers two programs: the College Match and the College Prep Program.
The College Prep Program
The College Prep Program will provide you with application guidance through a variety of resources. These include: access to the network of QuestBridge scholars and alumni, an invitation to an admissions conference, summer camp opportunities, and grant money. The College Prep Program does not limit your college list in any way, but rather will give you guidance to craft applications to any school.
The Match Program
The Match Program does not provide admissions guidance, but it does change the way you can apply to colleges. The Match Program allows QuestBridge scholars to apply Early Decision to up to 15 schools. This involves a binding element — applicants rank each school based on their interest, and they must accept the offer of the highest ranked school on their list they get accepted to.
The biggest pro of College Match is that if you match with one of the schools on your list, they will give you a full-ride scholarship. You will also receive an admissions decision in early December, which is much earlier than when springtime Regular Decision acceptances come out.
The main con to the Match Program is that there’s a limited list of Match schools. Only 48 schools in the US partner with QuestBridge as Match schools, and several selective schools notably are not QuestBridge partners. These include Harvard and Cornell. Since Match Program scholars can only apply early to Match schools, the program will limit your options.
QuestBridge Finalists — or those who are selected for a QuestBridge program — have several things to consider as they apply to college through the program. The first is whether they want to apply for both QuestBridge programs or only one. Either option is possible, and those who were rejected from the College Prep program can still apply to College Match.
College Match scholars are given the benefit of being able to apply to multiple schools Early Decision. However, they should rank their colleges carefully to make sure that they maximize their odds of getting accepted to their top pick.
Lastly, it is possible to apply to colleges Regular Decision as a QuestBridge Finalist. This eliminates the pressure of the Match Program to rank colleges, and ensures that you will not have to decline an offer from your dream school because of another Early Decision acceptance.
QuestBridge Regular Decision applicants are not as likely to get full-ride scholarships as Match applicants, but they still receive many of the same benefits. For one, they do not have to pay application fees to any QuestBridge partner college. The other plus is that QuestBridge applicants are guaranteed to receive aid packages that meet 100% of their demonstrated financial need — for many applicants, these packages are close in value to full-ride scholarships.