The Yale Admissions Office regularly participates in group trips to conduct outreach. But this summer, the office tried something different: Admissions officials traveled alongside representatives from other schools partnered with QuestBridge, a national nonprofit that connects high-achieving, low-income students with colleges and other resources.

Moving forward, QuestBridge will use the model developed by Yale and the other participating schools to organize more such trips.

QuestBridge is most famous for the National College Match, a program that helps high-achieving, low-income students gain admission to and full scholarships at 40 partner colleges, including Yale. Together with admissions staff from Colorado College, Vanderbilt University and the University of Notre Dame, Yale officials traveled to cities around the country to meet with high school counselors and prospective applicants and talk about need-based financial aid, selective admissions and QuestBridge specifically.  Bob Mundy, the admissions director at Notre Dame, said the group is planning to travel together again this spring.

Leslie Sullivan, QuestBridge’s director of partner relations, said the nonprofit had been working on a pilot program for its partner schools to travel together when Yale approached the group with a proposition. QuestBridge used the summer programming “to see how a number of ideas worked in practice,” Sullivan said.

“We found that the model allowed us to capitalize on QuestBridge’s expertise in reaching students from low-income backgrounds and the schools’ expertise in traveling on the road,” she said. “The Yale admissions staff was incredibly helpful in giving feedback to us as we finalized our QuestBridge group travel pilot program, which is now available to the entire QuestBridge partnership.”

The Admissions Office’s director of outreach and communications, Mark Dunn, said the information sessions held by travel consortiums usually start with officials giving brief presentations about their respective schools and then answering general questions fielded by the audience. This time, however, the officials reversed the format, discussing admissions and financial aid first, and then giving short presentations about each university.

This year, the information session for high school students took place in the evening and was supplemented by a breakfast meeting with high school counselors, Dunn said. Officials walked the counselors through the QuestBridge application process and answered other questions.

“With this trip, first and foremost we wanted to use it as a service to folks at the session,” Dunn said. “We’re trying to make sure that we’re good educators, and part of the message is that Yale is not the only good school out there. QuestBridge really encourages you to apply to other partners.”

Mundy said Notre Dame officials were excited to join the traveling group. He added that the program allowed the school to continue its efforts to enroll more students who are first-generation or who come from “challenging socioeconomic circumstances.”

Carlos Jimenez, director of admission for outreach and recruitment at Colorado College, described the summer travel program as “a great opportunity” to conduct outreach with a diverse group of schools.

“It can be incredibly beneficial for students and counselors when schools are able to travel together,” he said. “We can reinforce key themes, such as how valuable need-based aid could be in allowing these low-income students to reach college [and] that despite our selectivity, gaining admission is possible.”

Jimenez pointed out that group travel also allowed universities to reach students and families that they might not be connected with when doing “typical high school visits in a particular market.”

He added that for counselors, too, this was a valuable opportunity to learn about the QuestBridge process in detail; many of them, he explained, had never had any formal training in the QuestBridge process and belonged to districts that could not afford to send school officials to large conferences.

Anastasiia Posnova |