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College Prep Scholar Workbook:
                                                      Table of Contents

Activity: College Goals Reflection Worksheet ......................................................... 3

Applying to QuestBridge College Partners

         My Notes .................................................................................................................. 5

         Activity: College Fit Worksheet ............................................................................... 7

Making College Affordable

         My Notes .................................................................................................................. 9

         Financial Aid Glossary ............................................................................................ 11

Telling Your Story

         My Notes ................................................................................................................ 13

         Activity: Telling Your Story ................................................................................... 15

         Weak Sample College Essay .................................................................................. 17

         Strong Sample College Essay ................................................................................ 18

National College Match 101

          My Notes .............................................................................................................. 19

          Terms .................................................................................................................... 21

          Frequently Asked Questions ................................................................................ 22

National College Match: Insight from QuestBridge Scholars

          My Notes .............................................................................................................. 23

Activity: College Fair ................................................................................................... 25
Activity: College Goals Reflection Worksheet

To get the most out of the National College Admissions Conference and your college
admissions journey as a whole, it's important to take time to reflect. Use this worksheet
to start thinking about how you can align your college search with your personal goals.

Personal Reflection Questionnaire
Why do I want to go to college?

What type of individual do I hope to become through my college experiences?

Who will help me make my college decision (myself, family, peers, other influences)?

When it comes to college, what am I most looking forward to?

When it comes to college, what am I most worried about?

What resources must I seek to best address my concerns listed above?

Three college majors that interest me:

Three professions I am interested in:

College Search Criteria
Describe the importance of the following factors in your college search. Use the
examples under the criteria to guide your reflection.

 Location:                                                Size:
 Proximity to home, urban or suburban, climate            Student population, student:faculty ratio

 Type of school:                                          Academics:
 Small liberal arts college, large university             Departments, special minors, research
                                                          opportunities, interdisciplinary programs

 Financial Aid:                                           Diversity:
 Need-based financial aid, no-loan policies               Student body demographic, offices or programs
                                                          for cultural or identity-based groups

 Community:                                               Activities/Organizations:
 Volunteering, community engagement                       Clubs, sports, career-building opportunities

 Housing:                                                 Facilities:
 Residential colleges, dorms, on-campus housing vs.       Classrooms, labs, libraries, athletic centers
 off-campus housing

 Study Abroad:                                            Career Development/Alumni Network:
 Semester-long programs, summer terms,                    Alumni mentorship opportunities, career
 alternative breaks                                       centers and workshops

 Of the above criteria, which three are most important to me? Why?

My Notes: Applying to QuestBridge College Partners

Finding the
Right College Fit

What are some
characteristics of
a college that are
important to me?

What We Look

What are
officers looking

How can I
highlight my
academic ability
and interests in
my application?


Activity: College Fit Worksheet

What characteristics of a college are important to you? What are your preferences and needs?

   Types of Schools


 Personal learning style

 Average classroom size and
 student-to-faculty ratio


 (urban, suburban, etc.)

 Distance from home

 Seasonal climate

   Academic Programs

 Specific programs of interest

 Core requirements

 Academic opportunities
 (research, internships, etc.)

Options if you are undecided
 or change your mind

   Student Life

 Campus and student groups

 Student life and campus culture

 Housing and residential options

 Athletics and school spirit
 (intramural, conference, etc.)

What are your top three college “must-haves” from your notes above?

   1) ____________________________________________________________
   2) ____________________________________________________________
   3) ____________________________________________________________

What can you ask admissions officers to help you determine if a college might be a good fit?

   • What type of student thrives in the learning environment at your college?
   • Can you tell me about the academic programs for students interested in ___________?
   • What summer internships or opportunities are available to students studying _______?

  Campus Life
   • What are students typically involved in outside of the classroom?
   • Which characteristics would describe the student body at your college?
   • Does your college have resources for first-generation and/or low-income students?
   • What are some notable and interesting traditions that take place on campus?

   • Can you tell me about the location and the activities and opportunities available nearby?
   • Your college is far from home so I cannot visit. How can I get to know the campus?
   • What is the relative size of your campus, and how do students get around?

My Notes: Making College Affordable

Components of
Financial Aid

How are college
costs covered?

Real World

What are some
takeaways from
these examples?

Financial Aid

What tools would
be useful when I’m
applying for
financial aid?

How can I best
describe my
financial situation
in my application?


Financial Aid Glossary

Books and Supplies: A college student must purchase or rent the books required for
classes along with notebooks and other materials. Books and supplies usually total
several hundred dollars per term, but the amount will vary depending on the student’s

Cost of Attendance (COA): The total cost of attending a college for one year,
including tuition, room & board, books & supplies, travel, personal expenses, etc.
This is sometimes referred to as the “sticker price” of a school.

CSS Profile: An additional financial aid application used by some colleges to award
their own financial aid funds.

Demonstrated Need: The difference between the cost of attendance and the expected
family contribution for each college. Some colleges commit to meeting demonstrated
need through financial aid.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount that a student and the student’s
family is expected to contribute to the cost of college based on their income, assets, and
household situation.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): A free application form
students submit to apply for federal financial aid. It is required for all students seeking
federal student grants, work-study programs, and loans and may also qualify students
for state-sponsored financial aid.

Grants: Gift money from the federal government, state government, and/or a college
that the student does not need to pay back. This money is usually paid directly to the
college without passing through the student’s hands. See also “Scholarship.”

Net Price Calculator: An online tool provided by colleges to allow potential students
to estimate the net price of attendance, which is the difference between the full cost of
attendance and any grants and scholarships.

Outside Scholarship: Money from an outside organization that does not need to be
repaid. Each college has a different policy on how outside scholarships impact a
student’s financial aid package.

Parental Contribution: Amount that a student’s parents are expected to pay directly
to a college. This amount is calculated using the information in the FAFSA,
CSS Profile, and other required financial forms.

Parent Loan: Money that is borrowed in the parents’ name to pay for their child’s
college. Parent loans need to be paid back with interest. The main parent loan is the
federal PLUS loan.

Pell Grant: Government grant for low-income students, which ranges from $1 to
over $5,800 depending on financial need. Eligibility is based on the FAFSA.

Personal Expenses: Any personal expenses that the student will incur, such as
purchasing toiletries or seeing a movie. Some school-related fees (for labs, music
lessons, etc.) may also be expected to come out of the personal expense budget.

Room and Board: Costs associated with living and dining while enrolled in school.
There might be different room and board budgets for students living on and off campus.

Scholarship: Gift money for college that does not need to be repaid. It can be offered
by the college itself, or outside organizations. See also “Grants.”

Student Loan: Money that a student borrows to pay for school. Student loans must be
repaid with interest. Student loans are offered from the federal government, private
lenders, and, in some cases, from the school directly.

Student Savings Contribution: The amount a college expects a student to contribute
to college costs from their savings and investments. A student savings contribution is
typically a percentage of a student’s total savings and investments.

Summer Work Contribution: The amount of money a student is expected to earn
during the summer to be used for college expenses for the upcoming year. The summer
work contribution is often used to pay for travel costs to campus or to pay for personal
expenses during the academic year. A student can start earning this money in advance of
the summer.

Travel: Costs associated with transportation to and from college at the beginning and
end of the school year and for winter break.

Tuition: Cost of educational instruction at a college.

Work-Study: A program where a student can work on campus or sometimes in the
local community. A student is typically expected to work 5–10 hours per week and must
apply for and secure their own job. Work-study income is often expected to be put
toward the cost of books and supplies, travel, or personal expenses.

My Notes: Telling Your Story

Your Complete

How can I use all
available space in
my application
to tell my story?

Four Essential
Essay Strategies

What are some
takeaways from
these strategies?

How can I use all
four strategies to
tell my story?

Activity: Sample

What are some
strategies used in
the sample essays?

What did I learn
from this exercise?


Activity: Telling Your Story

Based on what you have learned from the Telling Your Story presentation, assess the following essay:

Sample Essay #1

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was sitting on my bed in my polka dot blue
pajamas. My little sister was getting ready to go sleep on the top bunk of the bunk bed. And then my
mom came in with a very serious look on her face. She paused for a second to catch her breath. Then
she said, “Travis, your dad…”

And then she started crying. “Your dad has left.”

There was a lot i wanted to ask her. Where had he gone? When was he coming back? Why didn’t he
tell me himself? Wouldn’t he still be at my 11th birthday party in a few weeks? But i never got the
answer to these and other questions. My mom just ran out of the room. She didn’t want to talk about
it then and she still doesn’t want to talk about it today. When my father left, he ruined our lives, and
my mom made it even worse by not talking to us about it. My dad never came to any of my birthday
parties after that. He barely even pays child support and hasn’t visited me since he left.

Sometimes I wonder where he is now. I imagine he’s on the beach, or he’s fishing at the creek he used
to take me too. Sometimes I wonder if he has a new family now and he’s forgotten about us. Mostly
i just wonder why he left. I work hard and i’m the top student in my class so that if he hears how
much I’ve accomplished, he’ll be embarrassed that he’s not here. He’ll be embarrassed that I’m
starting on the varsity soccer team and that he’s never gone to one of my games. He’ll be
embarrassed that I’m the editor of the newspaper and he’s never red one of my articles. He’ll be
embarrassed that I’m on the honor roll and he’s never had a chance to see one of my report cards.

And I know in the end I’ll get the last laugh. Because when I have son, my goal will be to act exactly
the opposite way my father has, because my father doesn’t deserve to be called a father.

In one sentence, summarize what you learned about the writer:

List two things the writer did well:



List two things the writer needs to work on:



Activity: Telling Your Story

Based on what you have learned from the Telling Your Story presentation, assess the following essay:

Sample Essay #2

As soon as I entered the village, I was hit by a wave of hot air, and an appalling stench. It was
like someone had placed a wet, fetid sock over my nose and mouth. I begin to panic. I thought I
couldn’t breathe. Welcome to Ecalpa, I thought. In front of me was row after row of shanties as far
as I could see – but I couldn’t see very far because I had to dodge small children who reached up at
me for money with boney hands. In two seconds, my conception of what poverty was had shifted.
These kids were barely wearing rags. From their exposed ribs, I could tell they had not eaten
much, if anything, in days. Their parents were nowhere to be seen. It was the middle of the day on
a Monday, and they were nowhere near a school. I had many experiences like this while I was in
Ecalpa during a one-week-service trip for Springfield United Methodist Church. Things were so
much simpler there. As we helped to build a home, I met child named Manuel who was happy to
just have a little bread to eat for a lunch. All he had in life was his mom and his dog. And the
family whose home we helped to build was happy beyond their wildest dreams. At the end of the
trip, we went to a dinner at the home of an uncle of one of the family members whose new home
we constructed. We all sat outside around a fire as a chicken twirled on the roast. As we waited
for it to be finished, several people banged drums and played native Ecalpan instruments. They
showed us how to do traditional dances. As the sun set I looked around the fire at all the happy faces
and thought about how nice everyone had been to us. If one can be happy with so little, what does it
say about our current American society, where people demand so many material things?

In one sentence, summarize what you learned about the writer:

List two things the writer did well:



List two things the writer needs to work on:



Weak Sample College Essay

The problem with this essay is that it could have been written by anyone. It is also a common
essay topic that contains no personal details that make the writer stand out to the admissions officer.
Every word of the personal statement needs to be carefully measured to tell more about the writer.

Prompt: Choose a photograph of something important to you and explain its significance.

A photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. hangs in a silver frame on my wall.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke those words on August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memo-
rial. They helped transform a nation, exposing hatred, silencing prejudice, and forging common bonds.
But before he did any of this, many people doubted the nation could change. Segregation and the after-
math of slavery were entrenched in every aspect of American life. It was difficult for black people to
vote, earn wages, gather, and travel in the way that all other Americans were able to.

King founded the SCLC, a Christian organization, to try to combat these policies – but few thought he
could accomplish anything. What could a young, black preacher do in the face of a society that had all
of its forces amassed against him? Despite his non-violent approach, he was dismissed as a radical.
Many called him a criminal. The FBI even tapped his phones.

And yet he persisted. And because of his efforts the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 and the Voting
Rights Act was passed in 1965. Time Magazine named him Man of the Year. And he became the young-
est person in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

We need another Martin Luther King, Jr. today.

Again our society faces a slew of problems. Poor people and minorities are disproportionately unable
to gain access to health care. Urban schools are failing and urban school children have little chance to
catch up with their wealthier peers. Violence and crime are so rampant that gang-life has become idol-

Again, people believe that these problems cannot be solved. They think that the forces that created the
problems are too powerful.

Who will be the next Martin Luther King, Jr.? I do not know, but I do know that as long as people are
worried about these problems, I will work on them.

Strong Sample College Essay

This student also writes on a common topic, but he is able to use Martin Luther King, Jr. as a character
to frame his essay. The majority of the essay explains the student’s personal background and future
goals. As a result, the reader has a better understanding of the student’s character rather than Martin
Luther King, Jr.’s achievements.

Prompt: Choose a photograph of something important to you and explain its significance.

Every night my eyes meet a familiar image in the faded black-and-white photograph that hangs from a
nail over my bed. I take it down and stare at it in my hands every time I feel myself wavering over what
I see as my future. The edges are fraying now. The picture was taken on August 28, 1963. There is a
long flowing crowd gathered around a reflecting pool, and at the top of the page, on the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial, you can just make out the shape of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Before I wrote a paper on Martin Luther King, Jr. for my history class, I knew the general outlines of
his story, but I had never really challenged myself to think about what it meant to my generation or to
me. I knew that he had played a crucial role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights
Act, was Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year,” and was the youngest person in history to win the Nobel
Peace Prize. But I had not realized how difficult it was for black people to vote, earn wages, assemble,
and travel in the way that white Americans were able to during that difficult time in U.S. history.

The difficulties that the disadvantaged faced then made me think about all the problems in my neigh-
borhood today. The shards of broken glass, restless young people, and distressed houses that I walk by
on the way to school perhaps were common then too. And they once seemed like intractable obstacles
to me. The vacant stares of old people sitting on the neighborhood stoops suggest they too probably
experienced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Their situation made me feel deeply ashamed. It was
easy to assess on an intellectual level what Martin Luther King, Jr. had done and to write a paper
praising him. On another level, I felt I was being hypocritical to support with words someone who
fought for change, then do nothing with my own actions.

I am particularly inspired by something King wrote about the transformative power of education. I put
the photo above my bed to remind me of future possibilities. Then I gathered some friends from my
history class and we talked to our teacher, Mr. Smith, about forming the Jefferson High School Adult
Literacy Club. With his help we formed an official school club with 25 members. Once a week, we go to
local community centers and read to adults who cannot read. The number of illiterate adults is higher
than I thought. We read with them, sound out words by pronouncing each letter, and practice spelling.

I realize that this is just a small step in solving big problems, but it has reaffirmed to me the im-
portance of making my education more than an intellectual exercise. Now, it is beginning to inform my
life-decisions for the better. Recently on my walk to school, I passed an older man who used to seem so
vacant and unreachable. I now recognized him as “Tobias” from Literacy Club, and I saw a gleam in his
eye for the first time I could remember.

My Notes: National College Match 101

An Introduction

Which college
partners am I
interested in

What does it mean
to “match”?

Process and

What are some
deadlines in this

for Admission

What are some
other benefits of
applying to the
National College

What are my
options if I do not


National College Match: Terms

College Partners: 45 of the top colleges in the nation that have partnered with
QuestBridge and are committed to supporting high-achieving, low-income students. They
are dedicated to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need.

College Prep Scholar: A high school junior selected by QuestBridge as a strong candidate
for admission to our college partners through the National College Match.

Finalist: A student selected by QuestBridge as a competitive applicant for the Match and
our college partners. Finalists are eligible to be considered for early admission and a Match
Scholarship to our college partners.

National College Match: A college admission and scholarship application process that
helps high-achieving, low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year
scholarships to the nation's most selective colleges.

National College Match Scholarship: Also referred to as the Match Scholarship. A full
four-year scholarship for matched students worth over $200,000.* Our college partners use
their own funds and state and federal aid to cover the full cost of attendance, including
tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and travel. All Match Scholarships are loan-
free and require no parental contribution. They may contain a student contribution in the
form of work-study, summer work, and/or student savings.

Match: The process of ranking schools to be admitted early to a QuestBridge college
partner with a full-four year scholarship.

QuestBridge Regular Decision: The process through which Finalists who are not
matched can apply for free to any of the QuestBridge college partners. Although the Match
Scholarship is not offered through QuestBridge Regular Decision, Finalists can still receive
generous financial aid, if admitted. Admission decisions and financial aid packages for
QuestBridge Regular Decision are released by college partners in the spring.

QuestBridge Scholar: A Finalist who attends any QuestBridge college partner through
the Match, QuestBridge Regular Decision, or other admissions processes.

Ranking Colleges: The process through which students submit a list to QuestBridge of up
to 12 college partners where they wish to be considered for the Match. Students rank up to
12 colleges in their preferred order of consideration.

*Some schools may require students to submit financial information each year to qualify.

National College Match: Frequently Asked Questions

Does participation in the National College Match guarantee admission?
Applying to QuestBridge or being selected as a Finalist does not guarantee admission to any
of our college partners. Therefore, we encourage all QuestBridge applicants to pursue other
college admissions options in addition to the National College Match.

How can a student be matched?
Finalists' National College Match applications are sent to the college partners that the
students ranked. On the basis of this application and other materials the Finalists submit
directly to the schools they ranked, the college partners select who they are interested in
matching with. Finalists who are matched are matched to their highest ranked school that
also selected them. Students can only be matched to one school and are committed to attend
the school they are matched to.**

If a student is matched, are they required to attend?
Admission through the Match is binding, which means that if a student is admitted to that
school, they are obligated to attend and must withdraw any applications to other colleges.**
The binding nature is in place to benefit both parties. The student is ensured the full
scholarship, and the college is ensured that the student will attend.

What happens if a student is not matched with any of the colleges they ranked?
Not being matched is not a rejection from the schools the student ranked. Students can still
apply to the schools they ranked as well as additional college partners through QuestBridge
Regular Decision. Some schools may also offer students who ranked them the opportunity to
apply through Early Decision or Early Action after Match Day.

Can a student rank colleges through the National College Match and also apply
Early Decision/Action to other colleges?

No. Please visit the Early Application Policy on our website for exceptions.

**MIT does not require students admitted through the Match to commit to attending their

My Notes: National College Match: Insight from QuestBridge Scholars

Scholar Stories

What can I learn
from these
Scholars’ stories?


What advice
should I remember
for the application


Activity: College Fair
   The College Fair is a unique opportunity to meet admissions officers from our 45 college
   partners. Revisit the questions that you brainstormed in the College Fit Worksheet at the
   bottom of page 8 to ask meaningful questions and get to know our college partners.
   Use the checklist below to track which college booths you visited. After the conference, make
   sure to research the schools you were not able to check off!
   Not sure where to begin? Flip through the QuestBridge College Partners booklet for an
   overview of each school, and follow these steps to figure out which booths to visit first:
      •   Visit the booths of 3 college partners that you are already interested in.
      •   Visit the booths of 4 college partners that you are not very familiar with.
      •   Visit the booths of 5 liberal arts colleges.

                                                   Massachusetts                University of Notre
 Amherst College         Colorado College
                                                    Institute of Technology       Dame

                          Columbia                Northwestern                 University of
 Barnard College
                           University               University                    Pennsylvania

                          Dartmouth                                             University of
 Boston College                                   Oberlin College
                           College                                                Southern California

 Boston University       Davidson College        Pomona College               University of Virginia

                          Denison                 Princeton
 Bowdoin College                                                                Vanderbilt University
                           University               University

 Brown University        Duke University         Rice University              Vassar College

 California Institute                                                           Washington and
                          Emory University        Scripps College
  of Technology                                                                   Lee University
                                                                                 Washington
 Carleton College        Grinnell College        Stanford University
                                                                                  University in St. Louis
 Claremont
                          Hamilton College        Swarthmore College           Wellesley College
  McKenna College
                          Haverford
 Colby College                                    Tufts University             Wesleyan University
                          Macalester
 Colgate University                               University of Chicago        Williams College

                                                                                 Yale University

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