Questbridge scholarship presents a valuable opportunity for students

Anjali Aralikar, student life beat lead

College is the behemoth lurking on the outskirts of most Edina High School seniors’ future plans. For some, pursuing a post-secondary education is expected. For others, college tuition’s maddening price tag is an insurmountable obstacle in their way. Fortunately, for the latter, the Questbridge Scholarship is a beacon of hope.

The Questbridge organization essentially offers a full ride to college. Each finalist receives four full years of tuition. Senior and Questbridge finalist Daniela Lopez applied for this reason. She also applied because of the community of previous years’ scholars. “It’s a community that will be to support you [through college],” Lopez said.  

There were 6,507 finalists, in 2018, out of 16,248 applicants. The scholarship prides itself on its goal to make college accessible to students. According to the Questbridge Finalist Profile for 2018, 73% of the finalists were first generation four-year college students and half of the finalists identified as people of color.

Lopez felt proud when she found out that she was a finalist. “Becoming a finalist meant a lot to me and boosted my confidence outside of Questbridge and in the college application process,” Lopez said.

Senior and finalist Gabi Leovan found out she was a finalist on the bus to a college visit, surrounded by friends. “It was very exciting,” she said.

Typically, applicants for this scholarship come from low-income backgrounds. As the profile continues, the median average income for the finalists was $35,000. Applicants also “exhibit high academic achievement.” The finalists’ average GPA was around 3.90. The middle 50% of their SAT scores ranged from 1320-1450. The middle 50% of their ACT composite scores ranged from 28-32.

When Leovan and Lopez found out they were selected, each created a list of colleges to apply to for both Early and Regular Decision. In the case of Early Decision, Questbridge supersedes the ‘one school per applicant’ agreement; this means that, for example, a finalist can apply to all seven Ivy League schools early decision.

Neither chose to do so, though. When applying, the finalists still have to complete supplement essays for each school. This task proved to be the most stressful for Leovan and Lopez.

“You have to make sure you give [the essay] your best and it really represents you,” Lopez said. “You have to communicate who you are and why [the college] should pick you.” Leovan said she also felt the strains of her essays and their deadlines.

But eventually, the writing became second nature. “A lot of what I wrote about were my passions and what I really thought was important in my life,” Leovan said, regarding the topics of her essays.

Although neither finalist was matched for Early Decision (only 1,044 finalists were matched in this round), both will apply through Questbridge for Regular Decision. For juniors who plan on applying for the scholarship next year, Lopez encourages them to highlight their strengths.

“Give [the application] your all and keep having hope,” Lopez said.