QuestBridge applications up

The QuestBridge Program, a non-profit organization that has matched low-income applicants with Yale for three years, saw the greatest number of its students admitted early to Yale since its inception.

This year, 22 QuestBridge scholars are among the 730 students who have been accepted early to Yale this year, up from 17 at this time last year and 19 two years ago. Since joining the program two years ago, Yale has received an average of more than 1,000 QuestBridge applications each year and has admitted around 60 to 80 students through the program, said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel. Twenty-seven colleges, including Princeton, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, currently participate in the program, and around a dozen new colleges may join the program in the near future, said Michael McCullough, founder and president of the Quest Scholars Program.

Charlie Croom

Established in 2004, QuestBridge National College Match Program is a non-profit organization that seeks to connect low-income students with elite colleges around the country. Students matched under the program received full four-year tuition at colleges such as Yale, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. In order to participate in QuestBridge’s National College Match program, prospective students must come from households earning less than $60,000 annually and have strong academic and extracurricular credentials. After submitting their transcripts, test scores and teacher and guidance counselor recommendations to QuestBridge, some applicants are selected as QuestBridge finalists and their applications are forwarded to participating colleges. Students rank their top schools, and colleges choose which students they wish to admit from their finalist pool and decision letters are sent on Dec. 1.

For students, becoming a QuestBridge finalist is one way to ensure that some of the nation’s most selective colleges are interested in their application, Brenzel said. The admissions office is actively seeking high-achieving, low-income, first-generation college students and QuestBridge helps to draw attention to such applications, he added.

“Our applications provide extensive information to highlight the backgrounds of our applicants that might otherwise go unnoticed,” McCullough said. “For example, instead of asking students about their favorite authors, we ask them to talk about the biggest challenges they have faced.”

QuestBridge scholar Ngozi Ukazu ’13 grew up amid a concrete jungle of apartment complexes in southwest Houston, where most residents spoke Spanish and few attended college.

But the youngest child of Nigerian immigrants said she knew she was college-bound the moment she stepped foot in kindergarten. Despite her family’s constrained financial circumstances, Ukazu said her parents instilled in her the value of hard work and strove to make every educational opportunity available to her.

Ukazu said she stumbled upon the program while researching summer college opportunities as a junior at Bellaire High School in Houston. But after being rejected from QuestBridge’s College Prep Scholarship for low-income students, Ukazu’s attention turned to the organization’s college match program.

“There are hoops that need to be jumped through when applying through QuestBridge,” Ukazu said, adding that her high school had difficulties submitting required documents for QuestBridge, and she had to send them herself.

Upon learning more about QuestBridge, Ukazu said her parents were excited about the opportunity for an all-expenses-paid college scholarship and urged her to apply. The effort paid off — Ukazu was initially matched with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall before being also accepted by Yale last spring.

Only a few years earlier, the thought of applying to Yale had been intimidating and she said she was initially worried whether the socioeconomic divisions she faced in high school might surface in college.

“Everyone who doesn’t know Yale well has this impression that it’s a country club where everyone owns yachts,” Ukazu said. “But I don’t feel my background has in any way ostracized me, you realize most people here are just middle class.”

Martha Juarez ’12, another QuestBridge Scholar who hails from Chicago, said she has also adjusted smoothly to college.

“Yale is diverse enough that you can find people you are comfortable with,” she said, noting that socioeconomic divisions are still present on campus among different friendship groups. “I also know others who have had a slightly harder time academically because they came from areas where they were less challenged in class.”

And while her QuestBridge scholarship covers tuition and board, other expenses such as books and flights must be covered through work, which limits the number and type of extracurricular activities she can participate in, she added.

Last year, over 1,000 students were admitted to QuestBridge’s partner colleges, disbursing more than $100 million under the program.


  • Hieronymus

    “ouseholds earning less than $60,000 annually and have strong academic and extracurricular credentials.”

    Hmmm, I rather doubt this is the ONLY criterion; nevertheless:

    “6. Is QuestBridge only for minority students?

    No. QuestBridge is for students of all races and ethnicities. We recognize that students of all backgrounds may face financial and circumstantial obstacles to higher education.”

    So… In the future I can restrict my income, reside in some under-privileged area (e.g., oh… North Dakota? New Haven?) and have my children have an equal chance in this program? One wonders…

    [Snarkiness aside: one DOES wonder… Such a program might free future parents to pursue, e.g., a missionary function instead of wealth accumulation… Hmm…. ]

  • Hieronymus

    The QuestBridge website offers insufficient data to assess potential “equality of outcome” hypocrisy.

    Grant recipients comprise:
    30% Latino
    28% Black
    17% White

    While we are not offered a similar breakdown for the applicant pool, QB does note the breakdown for “Finalists,” which is itself enlightening:
    22% “Hispanic” (QB’s designation)
    18% Black
    32% unlabeled (assume “White”)

    But… but… but… Where’s my Level Playing Field???
    Doesn’t QuestBridge know that

    [No, I am not *really* outraged, that would require some element of surprise and, indeed, I am not surprised. at. all.]

    Bonus round!

    While not *directly* comparable (2007 admits versus 2008 recipients), the admit rates may also offer instruction (darning, if not d*mning):
    Admissions rates:
    Asian/As-Am: 32%
    White: 22%
    Black: 21%
    Hispanic: 18%

    Hmmm… I’m sure *racism* is the answer to THAT ranking, hmm? (Of course, that would demand a pro-Asian racism, which doesn’t fit the meme…)

  • What?

    Heiro, you’re just on another planet. What are these figures supposed to prove?

  • Hieronymus


    I am not out to “prove” anything, merely make observations.

    Here is a fairly standard complaint (and a fair analogy): “Minorities are underrepresented on the Yale faculty.”

    Usually the focus is on African American faculty. The argument typically goes that “because AA’s make up ~12% of the US population, Yale’s faculty should reflect that percentage.” The argument either implies or states the underlying givens, i.e., that exclusive of bias (to include, e.g., test bias or, lately, the persistent effects of *historical* bias), all “groups” (ethnicities, races, whatever) should perform the same and, hence, be equally qualified. In other words, it is bias that keeps Yale’s faculty from reflecting the US population.

    Got it? This is the “equality of outcome” meme, that “outcomes” must reflect “inputs” (in terms of race).

    Can you make your own inferences from here, or do I need to hold your hand?

  • Hieronymus

    Addendum: the figures don’t “prove” anything, but they certainly “suggest” that QB’s statement of no other selection criterion than financial circumstances is less than fully accurate.

    My other point is that while some folks (typically “Liberals”) will cry and cry about *some* situations involving inequality of outcome (review, please, the Yale faculty problem), about others they will remain rather quiet.

    Does any of this ring a bell or will you persist in insisting that such observations are inter-planetary?

  • Question Jews

    What I want to know is why Jews are so overrepresented at Yale and AA is not being dicussed as a remedy to reduce the number of jew to proportion. Jews are 23% of yale when they should be 3 %.

    Why aren’t Whites rising up to protest for their rights against hypocrisy and injustice against them ?

  • Hieronymus


    Is religion a factor in admissions?

  • Yale CC ’08

    “So… In the future I can restrict my income, reside in some under-privileged area (e.g., oh… North Dakota? New Haven?) and have my children have an equal chance in this program? One wonders…”

    You’ve hit a new low, Hieronymus. Maybe YOU should “restrict” your income and move to North Dakota, since clearly flexibility of location and convenience of privilege don’t apply to low-income first generation-college households. [Snarkiness aside]

  • Yale ’08

    Hieronymus, go waste your talents for encrypted exposition on some other cause.

    QB is a great program and it’s about time that low-income students get their due day in the Ivy League. I see very little empirical support for your insinuations in the racial distributions you posted above.

    Of course income is not the ONLY factor! Come on, man, I expect after all of these years debating you on YDN comments boards that you wouldn’t stoop to such facile lows. There is an unfortunate correlative between ethnicity and income in this country, like it or not. The mission of QB should be to parse this correlation and determine who are most worthy of accessing a top-tier education.

  • Hieronymus


    I agree with you entirely. My diatribe was not that QB has an ethnic/racial component; my beef is that QB disingenuously downplays/denies that correlation. Why not just come out and say it: it’s a program (mostly) for ethnic minorities. Why the obfuscation?

  • ’98

    Regardless of any other merits it has, the he QuestBridge program is a great boosting tool for Yale’s admissions stats: Without half trying we get an huge number of minority “applicants” that we wouldn’t otherwise have, and a juicy 100% yield rate on those we choose to admit! A lifesaver for the Admissions Office at a time when the admit rate and the yield rate are lagging behind similar numbers at our peers!

  • Jordon Walker

    Obviously minorities are going to represent a disproportionate share of the individuals involved in the QuestBridge program as minorities are disproportionately poor.

    @10 There is no obfuscation the only problem appears to be your own lack of understanding the racial/economic stratification of our society.

    Moreover, latent sentiment that such programs are for minorities only–as many such programs are–likely contributes to a lesser amount of white/asian applicants, which in turn causes them to appear disadvantaged in the Quest Bridge process.

  • Egalitarian

    To Hieronymous: As I’m sure you know, a disproportionately large number of African-Americans and Hispanics have low incomes, so it doesn’t make sense to assume that there must be a racial preference if they are present in larger numbers in this program than in the general population. If this is in fact what’s going on, it’s perfectly appropriate for QuestBridge to state that they don’t exclude anyone on the basis of race. Low-income white applicants should also be allowed to access to the program.

    To #11: Boosting statistics is exactly what the problem is with undergraduate admissions. The goal of admissions staff should be to provide a fair and equal evaluation to all applicants. Statistics should be a tool to help locate and resolve potential inequalities, not an end in themselves.

    To #6: Jewish-Americans are not recognized as a racial or ethnic minority (even though we actually are), and religion is not used as a factor on the application to Yale or any other nonsectarian college or university that I’m aware of. There are no preferences in favor of Jewish applicants, and there seems to be geographic bias against areas with large Jewish populations. The only reason that there is such a large Jewish presence is that there are a lot of highly qualified Jewish applicants. An affirmative action program to decrease the number of Jewish students at Yale would be just as unethical as the programs in place to increase or decrease the number of students of any other demographic group.

  • To #13:

    < >

    You should express this view to President Levin, who violated his own previously-expressed moral stance by hanging onto the early admissions program when Princeton and Harvard dropped theirs. The hope, apparently, was to steal a few common admits from the “rivals” and raise the apparent yield rate. Yale fills more than half the class with “high-yield” early pool applicants, then looks to backfill with “diversity” candididates dug up for us by the QuestBridge program. It would be better if all applicants compete on an equal basis.

  • ridiculous

    I’m sorry, but saying that Yale looks to “backfill with ‘diversity’ candidates dug up for us by the Questbridge program” is a completely idiotic statement.

    First of all, Questbridge does not select which of the applicants are admitted to Yale. Those who rank Yale as a choice are forwarded to the admissions office, which selects which candidates are offered admission. It is HIGHLY competitive, just like any other admissions cycle at Yale. While essentially everyone who is admitted to Yale is incredibly accomplished, many of the Questbridge students stand out highly amongst the entire pool of admits.

    I applaud the Yale admissions office for recognizing that working multiple jobs and caring for siblings while parents are working is often much, much more time-consuming and difficult than being “officers” in BS clubs, doing a few hours of community service every few months, etc.

  • Ana Gil

    I applied for Questbridge College Prep and received a Yale Conference and I will be applying to Questbridge’s College Match in hopes to receive a full four-year scholarship from Yale University.