“A complete shock.” That’s what Isidora Davis 26, an Illinois native and high school student, said she felt when she stared in disbelief at her QuestBridge Gateway earlier this month. She had just found out that she had been accepted to Stanford – her first school of choice – on a full scholarship.
Davis, like more than a thousand high school students across the country, participated in the national college game at QuestBridge. Of the 1,650 students in the match program, only a few were accepted into the class of 2026 at Stanford University.
This year, QuestBridge Match Scholars were accepted into 45 of the top US universities on full scholarships. QuestBridge, a non-profit educational organization founded in 1994, focuses on helping and enabling high school students from low-income families to apply to various universities in the country.
“Before that, I thought it was impossible for me to actually be accepted and be able to go without holding my parents financially responsible,” Davis said. “I instilled in QuestBridge this confidence that made me realize I could achieve more if I was willing to fight for myself.”
QuestBridge applicants first apply to the National College Match through an application consisting of personal essays and demographic information. Of the 16,500 applicants this year, 6,312 finalists were shortlisted and then asked to provide additional information based on the schools they hope to match. In the end, only 1,650 students were matched with one of QuestBridge’s partner schools.
Those matched through QuestBridge are expected to adhere to university – a process similar to early decision programs at a number of colleges across the country. Finalists who did not match in December have the opportunity to apply through QuestBridge’s regular decision-making program.
“The program taught me how to excel in colleges,” said Giovanna Jiang, 26, who will join Davis at Stanford next fall. “QuestBridge helped me focus on myself as an individual and try to sum that up through the app and share my passion that I had rather than just focusing on how to get in.”
Jiang, who is based in Pennsylvania, sees Stanford as “a community with a strong sense of fellowship with one another.” She said she ranked Stanford as her best college because she wanted to go to a school that not only had opportunities for academic and professional advancement, but one that felt right at home.
Dana Soriano, 26, a New Yorker credits QuestBridge with enabling her to realize her dream of college admission.
In addition to Questbridge Match, Soriano has participated in QuestBridge’s College Prep Scholars, a program for high school juniors and seniors that prepares them for the college application process.
Like many QuestBridge scholars, Soriano is the first in her family to attend a private university. When I applied to Stanford University and ranked it as my top choice, I was met with skepticism. Soriano said that during her college admissions journey, she encountered many people who questioned her potential and her ability to be accepted into Stanford University.
“I applied thinking I wouldn’t enter, I was told it was very competitive,” Soriano said. “Being from a low-income family, I knew the money would really come in handy and Stanford University was always my dream school.”
Even the opportunity to apply to Stanford University was “in itself a huge problem,” Soriano said, explaining that she is the first in her family to apply to any private school.
“I knew I didn’t have [anything] Soriano said. “The process was long and draining, but it was worth it.”