Karim commits to Emory on a full ride from QuestBridge

Thanks to the QuestBridge program, senior Ismael Karim recently found out that he has been awarded a four-year scholarship to Emory University.

Art: Charlie Bieg.

QuestBridge is a national nonprofit that gives high-achieving, low-income students the opportunity to apply to the leading colleges in the nation with full-need scholarships guaranteed. 

QuestBridge has over 40 college partners, including many renowned universities like Yale, Duke, Brown, and MIT. QuestBridge is continuously expanding with additional schools becoming partners every year.

“Basically, they say ... if you meet these income guidelines, if you apply through our portal and our process, our partner schools say we will cover your whole tuition and financial aid packages,” said Director of College Counseling Kevin Crimmins. “It’s great for the students. There’s not a bad school on the list. So they know they're going to get into a good college and they know it's going to be free for them.”

QuestBridge acts as a binding, early decision based on ranked choice. During the application process, the applicant will go through the QuestBridge affiliated schools and list their top schools. The applicant is limited to only ten colleges for the ranking process, but they aren’t required to put ten.

“It's like a draft pick. Every team is going their order, but you list the order that teams can consider you in,” said Crimmins. “If one passes, two passes, three passes, four passes, but five says yes, you now have a binding agreement with number five.”

Qualifying as a QuestBridge scholar does not guarantee that an applicant gets matched with one of the colleges.

“This year, I think there were over 35,000 applications, and only 1,600 actually got into a school. So I knew that before coming in, that most likely I wouldn't get in through QuestBridge. So I had prepared the Common App in advance, but I ended up not needing it,” said Karim. 

There are different ways that students learn about QuestBridge. One way is a summer QuestBridge program that allows juniors to learn more about the college admissions process. Another is by word of mouth.

“A majority of the time it's word of mouth from what I've seen here at SLUH. Students see success stories and then share it with fellow students that they believe would be a good candidate,” said college counselor Daniel Shields. “Friends, parents, guidance counselors, teachers, or people outside that know of a good student that is high achieving can recommend them.”

QuestBridge requires a lot of supplemental essays and an early submission, but the potential rewards are extraordinary.

“I think it's an amazing opportunity to give students that may not have looked at highly selective schools beforehand this chance,” said Shields “This program is something that really gives opportunities and pathways forward to more competitive schools, and I would recommend it to anyone that meets the requirement because the possibilities are limitless.” 

“I just opened [the acceptance letter], and I started to tear up,” said Karim of getting the news. “I didn't think it was possible for me to be able to go to a school like that, a top tier school on a full, four year scholarship.”

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