“Complete shock.” That’s what Illinois native and high school senior Isidora Davis ’26 said she felt as she stared in disbelief at her QuestBridge portal earlier this month. She had just found out that she had been accepted to Stanford — her first choice school — with a full-ride scholarship.
Davis, like more than a thousand high school students across the nation, participated in QuestBridge’s National College Match. Among the 1,650 students in the match program, only a handful were admitted to Stanford’s Class of 2026.
This year, QuestBridge match scholars were accepted to 45 of the United States’ top universities with full-ride scholarships. QuestBridge, an educational nonprofit founded in 1994, focuses on helping and empowering high-school students from low-income families to apply to various universities in the country.
“Beforehand, I thought it was unattainable for me to actually get accepted and be able to go without putting a financial responsibility on my parents,” Davis said. “QuestBridge instilled in me this confidence that made me realize that I am capable of more if I was willing to fight for myself.”
QuestBridge applicants first apply to the National College Match through an application that consists of personal essays and demographic information. Of the 16,500 applicants this year, 6,312 finalists were selected, who were then prompted to submit additional information based on the schools they hoped to match. Only 1,650 students were ultimately matched with one of QuestBridge’s partner schools.
Those who are matched through QuestBridge are expected to commit to the university — a process similar to the early decision programs at a number of colleges around the country. Finalists who were not matched in December have the opportunity to apply through QuestBridge’s regular decision program.
“The program taught me how to stand out to 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 encapsulate that through the application and share my passions that I had rather than focusing only on how to get in.”
Jiang, a Pennsylvania resident, sees Stanford as “a community with such a strong sense of fellowship with each other.” She said that she ranked Stanford as her top college because she wanted to go to a school that not only had opportunities for academic and professional advancement, but one that felt like home.
Danna Soriano ’26, a New Yorker, credits QuestBridge with empowering her to achieve her college admissions dream.
In addition to the Questbridge Match program, Soriano 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 she applied and ranked Stanford as her top choice, she was met with doubt. Soriano said that along her college admissions journey she encountered many people who doubted her potential and ability to be accepted to Stanford.
“I applied thinking I wasn’t going to get in, I was told it was extremely competitive,” Soriano said. “Coming from a low-income family I knew that the money would be really helpful and Stanford has always been my dream school.”
Even the opportunity to apply to Stanford was “on its own a big deal,” Soriano said, explaining that she is the first in her family to apply to any private school.
“I knew that I didn’t have [anything] to lose,” Soriano said. “The process was long and draining, but it was worth it.”