At their inaugural meeting in Dwight Hall Library last Thursday, the new Yale chapter of the QuestBridge Scholars Program talked about ways to build a strong community on campus.

The national QuestBridge organization, which helps low-income students get into top-tier universities, has been opening chapters in its partner universities, all of which allow underprivileged students to apply to the school through QuestBridge, said Liane Membis ’12, aformer staff reporter for the News, Yale’s QuestBridge Liaison. Membis likened the organization’s role on campus to that of a cultural house, building a community for students with similar backgrounds.

“We’re trying to bring together students that are low-income,” Membis said. “Although they all have diverse backgrounds, they’re pretty much the minority here and we’re trying to create a community for them.”

Launched in 2004 by the Quest Scholars Program, QuestBridge was founded to help high school students apply for and attend top-tier universities. Since then, it has partnered with over 30 schools, including Yale, Princeton and Stanford to provide high-achieving, low-income students with college counseling when they apply to schools, and also cover students’ travel expenses for visits and interviews. If QuestBridge scholars get into a top school, they receive full financial aid that covers their tuition and room and board.

The program selects on the basis of GPA, class rank, rigor of high school curriculum, standardized test scores, essays and letters of recommendation,

When QuestBridge Scholars apply to universities, they are required to rank their top eight preferences from among the list of partner schools. If accepted to more than one of their eight, they are bound to attend the university that they had originally given the highest ranking.

Co-President of the Yale chapter Christine Jun ’12, who decided to apply through QuestBridge after attending one of its conferences during her junior year of high school, said she plans to find other “Questies” and organizegatherings for themto build a sense of community. She said she hopes to invite guest speakers to Yale, such as Quest Scholars Program Co-Founders Michael and Ana McCullough. She will also work to organize housing arrangements for pre-frosh Questies during Bulldog Days, she added.

During the meeting, students proposed ideas for the future, including organizing community service activities, coordinating mentoring programs, and establishing an extensive Questies network.

Natalie Ivanov ’13 said she thinks Questies at Yale have formed stronger ties with one another than members of other scholarship programs because they understand each others’ pre-college experiences. Last year, aspiring QuestBridge scholars were paired with students currently in the organization as part of a mentorship program.

Ivanov said she applied to QuestBridge on the recommendation of her high school advisor, who knew that financial aid would be a factor in her college decision.

“I was okay with student loans but thought that [QuestBridge] would be a better way to apply,” Ivanov said.

She added that the QuestBridge application let her describe more aspects of herself than the Common Application would have, like her family life.

Jun said the 800-word essay required in the QuestBridge application allowed her to describe her background more thoroughly than the 500-word Common Application essay.

“But it was a pain in the ass to do,” she added, laughing.

In 2009, QuestBridge gave scholarships to 268 of 5830 applicants.