By Jed Quiaoit
More than a thousand high school seniors across the nation were admitted to 42 top universities under QuestBridge’s National College Match program on Dec. 1. Among the Match scholarship recipients, a handful will be joining the Farm as the first members of Stanford’s Class of 2025.
A revamp of the Quest program founded at Stanford by Michael McCulough ’89 and Ana McCulough ’95, QuestBridge is a college access program offering four-year full-ride scholarships since 1994. The organization empowers high-achieving low-income seniors to apply to competitive American universities.
QuestBridge’s unique application process is appealing to students who want immediate results and multiple chances of admission. Finalists who are “matched” to a partner school are expected to commit to attend that college (with the exception of non-binding MIT), mimicking Early Decision. Finalists who are not matched still have a second chance to apply to dream schools via QuestBridge Regular Decision. This year’s admissions cycle is unique due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added more factors to an already complicated system, such as new test-optional/blind policies, gap year Class of 2024 students and suspension of extracurriculars.
“Before high school, I didn’t really know about a lot of colleges,” said Sam Wondsen from Chamblee, Georgia. Growing up with immigrant parents, he wasn’t familiar with the college application system. QuestBridge, however, enabled him to dream of attending these institutions.”
To be matched, candidates follow a competitive multi-tiered application process. This year, almost 20,000 seniors first completed a form similar to the Common Application. Selection committees then reviewed applications holistically, narrowing the pool down to almost 7,000 finalists. Finalists proceeded to research and rank up to 12 QuestBridge college partners by late October.
After a one-month wait, the program concluded as 1,464 finalists were matched with one of their chosen colleges in December.
Wondsen streamed his results to friends on Discord. “As soon as I saw ‘Congratulations!’ and then ‘Stanford,’ I screamed, ‘Stanford!’ at the top of my lungs five times.” He added that he was in “disbelief but at the same time, total excitement.”
For prospective student Noor Hassan from Paterson, New Jersey, being matched with Stanford alleviated his self-doubt. “My first impression was ‘well, they are too smart for me.’” He said he “trusted the process” and took a leap of faith.
Stanford is described by QuestBridge as “brimming with innovative high-tech businesses and startups [and] known for its entrepreneurial culture.” Hassan said, “I ranked Stanford because of their research opportunities and their standing in cognitive science. I want to pursue their Symbolic Systems major.”
Current Stanford undergraduates enthusiastically welcomed admits on social media. They inundated the Stanford Admissions Instagram page with tree, confetti and heart emojis, as well as congratulatory comments. Richzeska Ann Sy Fandino ’24 wrote, “WELCOME BABY TREES/STANFORD QUESTIES ’25!! WE CAN’T WAIT TO MEET Y’ALL AND WE’RE SO HAPPY Y’ALL ARE WITH US!” Likewise, Kevin Thor ’24 said, “Welcome home!”
Ready for the transition to college, Stanford matches also named some aspects of the “Farm life” they are looking forward to.
Prospective student Jordan Grant from Columbus, Georgia, said that she eyes Stanford’s community and culture in particular. “Just being in an environment like Stanford’s makes everything feel new and surreal,” she said. She is excited to meet fellow QuestBridge scholars in Stanford, enjoy residential life and try out a multitude of food.
Echoing Grant, prospective student Devyani Gonzalez from Salinas, California, is eager to live in a college setting. She also cannot wait to immerse into college classes and join the growing scholar community. “It’ll be really cool!”
“There’s so much to anticipate,” she said.
Wondsen said he would love to play intramural soccer, and called the opportunity to research astrophysics at Stanford “pretty amazing.”
Stanford will admit the rest of its class in the following months. Restrictive Early Action applicants will receive decisions by Dec. 15 while Regular Decision applicants can expect theirs by April 1. Applications close on Jan. 2.
Contact Jed Quiaoit at aidanjed1218 ‘at’ gmail.com.