By Nahian Chowdhury ’16
Two Hornets have surpassed obstacles to become QuestBridge finalists.
Max Miloslavsky ’16 and Helen Tang ’16 have achieved finalist status in the National College Match.
The National College Match is a scholarship which covers all expenses including room and board. It is one of many programs offered by QuestBridge, an innovative non-profit organization which provides low income students the tools they need to gain admission to,and succeed in, the top colleges in the U.S.
The deadline to apply to the National College Match was September 28, and applicants were notified of their finalist decision on October 21. Finalists will move on the next round, where they may be matched to a QuestBridge partner college. Partner colleges include Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Vassar, Yale, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Oberlin and many more.
This year, 13,624 students applied to the National College Match and only 4,895 were selected as finalists. Miloslavsky and Tang were among those few.
“I know that being a QuestBridge finalist will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I honestly believed I had no chance of becoming a finalist for the QuestBridge scholarship. I was so determined that everything would go wrong,” said Tang. “ When I saw I had been accepted as a finalist, I couldn’t believe it. I was just one small woman, and I had been chosen over thousands of other applicants! It definitely did give me a self-esteem boost, and really made me realize that all the hard work I had put into my education for all these years was worth it.”
Miloslavsky said, “ Honestly when I opened the link to my acceptance results I did not believe my eyes. The competition to get into the program is really tough and by the statistics they had for the previous accepted finalists there was little to no chance of me getting in for my standardized test scores. My feelings about becoming a finalist can not be summed up in words.”
The selection process for the National College Match is highly competitive with 89% of finalists falling within the top 10% of seniors at their respective schools. The average finalist GPA was 3.87 and 71% of finalists will be the first in their family to attend a 4 year college.
Finalists were chosen based on their academic achievement, financial qualifications and personal circumstances, which include parental level of education and extracurricular achievement.
“Many low-income students are disadvantaged when it comes to applying to colleges, with application fees, fees to send your SAT scores, filling out the CSS financial aid profile and the fee to send that to colleges, and more. It all adds up, and QuestBridge allows other students like me to apply with no charge to a prestigious academic institution and then if accepted, an education that is fully covered by the school,” she added.
The application process for QuestBridge is extremely long and tedious. Since the deadline is in late September, prospective applicants must get started over the summer in order to ensure that their essays, recommendations and tests scores are submitted on time.
Tang said, “The process was far from easy. It was an extremely long process, more so because my parents don’t understand English well, so when I was filling out the financial parts of the application, I struggled a lot. I also had to make sure my responses were near-perfect, and that the teachers I asked for a recommendation for would be able to send one in for me.”
Despite the lengthy application process, both Tang and Miloslavsky agree that the program has great benefits.
Tang said, “QuestBridge is amazing. I mean, a full scholarship to one of the partner colleges, which all are top colleges/universities in the nation – who wouldn’t want that? And it’s not just a full scholarship to the college/university – it includes room and board, book expenses; basically everything is covered.”
Miloslavsky was drawn to the program due to his interest in going away for college.
He said, “They pay for your travel expenses which is great because I want to go to school in California but still want to be able to see my parents during breaks.”
Miloslavsky had his heart set on becoming a finalist ever since he found out about QuestBridge.
“ I originally found out about QuestBridge from a poster that was hanging in Ms. Gluck’s office. When I went online to find out more I realized how great of a program it was,” he said.
Tang on the other hand, was ambivalent about applying.
“I found out about QuestBridge through my sister, who was also a National College Match finalist in her senior year of high school, in 2009, and was later on matched to Williams College,” she said. “I wasn’t going to apply because I was set on the belief that I wouldn’t be a finalist, and that all my hard work would have gone to waste. But my sister encouraged me and told me of the wonderful benefits I would receive if I were matched to a college. Also, she threatened to never talk to me again if I missed this wonderful opportunity.”
Both Miloslavsky and Tang encourage current juniors to apply to the College Match.
Miloslavsky said, “I would definitely recommend students apply to the program. Besides being very prestigious it does help increase your chances to get into a top ranked school and if matched you are guaranteed a full ride.” He also added that even if a student is not matched to a college, their college application will be enhanced by the fact that they were selected as a finalist.
Tang said that despite the immense amount of work put into the application, the end results are worth it.
“Looking back, the all-nighters and late nights and tears I shed were worth it,” she said. “And of course, I must give my thanks to the college department and the wonderful teachers who worked tediously on their recommendations for me. If I could name names, I would. I know that without their hard work and dedication to students, I wouldn’t be here being interviewed.”