All of us here at Casa Aloha are feeling very good this Friday: WenYu was selected as a national Questbridge Scholarship Finalist! We were feeling very anxious about the results, and by Wednesday morning I had convinced myself that she was not going to be selected. When I opened her text at noon and saw the good news I burst into tears!
Questbridge connects high-achieving, low-income students with top colleges and universities all over the country, including all the Ivies and schools such as Stanford, University of Chicago, MIT, Vanderbilt University, Vassar and others. Thirty-six colleges in all partner with Questbridge.
The scholarship program has two parts, beginning with the finalist round. Students complete a rigorous application, write two essays, and submit transcripts, test scores and parent financial information to Questbridge. Students can also choose to “rank” up to 12 partner colleges that they would like to attend (WenYu ranked seven: Scripps, Wellesley, Oberlin, Davidson, Colorado College, Pomona, and Vanderbilt). Questbridge reviews all the applications, and finalists are selected. Finalists’ applications are then sent to all their ranked colleges where they will be reviewed for a possible match scholarship awarded by the college (Questbridge itself does not actually award any scholarships; they provide a matching service that identifies qualified low-income students and connects them with participating schools). A Questbridge match scholarship from one of the partner schools covers all tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses for four years, with no student loans and no parental contributions. Some universities award as many as 40 Questbridge scholarships each year; smaller colleges award around 10 or less.
Although not the golden ticket itself, being selected as a finalist is still a major honor, and provides a huge boost for admission to one of the partner colleges even if the student is not matched with any of their ranked schools. Last year (2014) 11,654 students applied to Questbridge, with 4,180 chosen as finalists (36%). From those, 501 match scholarships were awarded by partner colleges, and an additional 1,499 finalists were accepted by partner schools through regular admission, many with a full need-based scholarship.
Questbridge finalists do not have to pay application fees to partner colleges (which is saving us nearly $420!). Only one of WenYu’s college choices requires a further writing submission, but official transcripts, tax returns and test scores have to be sent to each college by November 1. Match scholarship winners for all schools will be announced on December 1. If WenYu doesn’t receive a match, her application will be automatically moved over to the regular decision round at each of her ranked schools, and she can apply to other colleges as well.
We bought mint chocolate chip ice cream, hot fudge sauce and whipped cream on Tuesday, and were prepared to either celebrate WenYu’s success or drown our sorrows in ice cream depending on Wednesday’s results. So, so thrilled though that we got to celebrate! We are still doing the happy dance here at Casa Aloha and are extremely proud of our girl and all her hard work.
We are all definitely feeling good this Friday! I hope everyone else had a very good week too!