QuestBridge Scholars announce their matches, give advice to potential applicants


Carter Moore

This year, three MSMS seniors matched with universities through Questbridge.

Jillian Snodgrass, Copy Editor

The QuestBridge National College Match scholarship program (NCM) is a way for high-achieving, low income students to go to college at no cost. This year, three MSMS students matched with colleges in the program. Abby Strain matched with Wesleyan University; Jesse Tran matched with Rice University; Nina Vo matched with Grinnell College.

All three students expressed satisfaction about the colleges they matched with, as well as excitement at the prospect of attending in the fall. 

“I think [Grinnell] is a great fit for me,” Vo said. “The curriculum is highly individualized and there aren’t any required classes aside from one first-year class, so I’m excited for the freedom. I think the values Grinnell holds and the resources they have will allow me to succeed.”

The students’ contentment with their matches was important, as the application process is extensive and matches are legally binding. Vo gave a summary of the detailed application.

“In September, the QuestBridge application is due, which includes a long essay, second essay, two short answer prompts, a couple of short answer questions, two teacher recommendations, counselor forms and other background information. It also has a section where you fill out your finances based off of tax forms,” Vo said.

That is only the preliminary work. In October, the students learn if they’ve become finalists. If so, they must rank the schools that they would most like to attend.

“After ranking at least eight colleges, you must complete all the match requirements listed on the QuestBridge website which generally includes completing the FAFSA, CSS profile, IDOC and supplements for each college,” Tran said. “Having finished all those, you wait until the decisions come out. You enjoy the fruits of your labor or have a huge head start in the treacherous and unforgiving college application season.”

Strain had mixed feelings about the application process, saying that it felt like an even playing field but that the work was almost too much to do in such a short time frame. Ultimately, though, she felt that it was an excellent opportunity.

“Your application is viewed through a lens of disadvantage, so the colleges understand that you didn’t go to that summer camp because you can’t afford it and that you couldn’t be a part of Beta Club because you must pick your sister up from school every day,” Strain said. 

All three scholars mentioned the College Prep Scholars program (CPS) as a helpful segue into the National College Match program and highly recommended that juniors interested in NCM complete CPS when it opens in February.

“Juniors who are interested in the process should apply to be a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar later this year,” Strain said. “Being a College Prep Scholar significantly increases your chances of being matched, and your application carries over, so you don’t have to fill out everything twice and can spend more time editing and improving.”

Another piece of advice Tran had for prospective applicants was to avoid procrastination at all costs and always ask for help if needed.

“Please do not make the same mistake as me and begin doing everything last minute. Allocate a great chunk of time towards these applications and find somebody that will help you,” Tran said. “I felt that I would be a burden to others if I were to ask for help, yet I could not be more wrong. Our counselors are more than excited to help us, and I am sure that your family and friends are happy to help you too.”

Although they believe that NCM was an incredible opportunity, this year’s scholars emphasized that it isn’t the path for everyone.

“It is binding and MSMS requires us to rank eight schools, so if you’re a really indecisive person or you like having non-binding options, then this probably isn’t for you,” Vo said. “Otherwise, it’s a really great opportunity to get a four-year ‘full-ride’ at one of these 42 schools that partner with QuestBridge, and if you get matched, your stressful college app season ends way earlier than is typical.”