This Monday, QuestBridge students across the country received the results of the National College Match. Through this program, students who qualify as QuestBridge Finalists apply to up to 12 of the partner colleges in the hopes of being matched with one. Through this program, USC admitted the first 5 Trojans to the class of 2024. As excited as we are for these students (and for any student who has been admitted through the National College Match) we also know that many students were disappointed on Monday. The nature of selective admission means that there are limited spaces and incredibly talented and strong applicants don’t always get the news they were hoping for. However, though we only admit a handful of students during the match process, we are about to admit many more during our scholarship and regular rounds. Until then, we thought it would be best to hear from a QuestBridge Scholar who didn’t match.
Keon Ghodrati, the president of the USC chapter of the QuestScholars Network, sat down with me to share his experiences and wisdom for QuestBridge students who are about to enter the regular process. Perhaps the kindest person you’ll ever meet, Keon is a SoCal native studying neuroscience with plans to attend medical school. In the early summer before his senior year, he got an email from QuestBridge. Thinking the program was too good to be true, he called the headquarters to make sure it wasn’t a scam and was subsequently thrilled to find a great (and totally legitimate) program helping low income students across the nation.
Up until that point, Keon had been set on going to community college considering the significant financial benefits of that path. He credits QuestBridge with showing him that a four-year college plan was in reach and that the substantial financial aid packages offered by QuestBridge partner colleges could make it affordable as well. Though he considered entering the National College Match process, Keon ultimately decided he was not comfortable committing to any school he hadn’t visited and decided to apply only through the regular round. He applied to several partner institutions and is glad that QuestBridge encouraged him to look at schools outside of California (and outside of his comfort zone).
When I asked Keon what made him decide to come to USC over the other colleges that had admitted him, he specifically cited the fact that he had been admitted as a neuroscience major. The field was dear to his heart due to family medical history, and he said it meant a lot to him that we trusted he would be a strong contributor in that program.
Especially at this time of year, we tend to focus on the college admission piece of QuestBridge, but Keon really emphasized how important the Quest Scholars network is for students once they enter college. As he said:
QuestBridge helped me out so much my first semester. I didn’t feel that sense of community in my first couple of months…but the QB welcome event allowed me to meet people I could relate to. It was organic and natural…The social aspect of the events really helped me make strong friendships. It was hard not being around family. I felt homesick and the higher rigor [of college] forced me to adjust my work ethic. This is a transition that almost everyone experiences.
He appreciated how welcoming the upper classmen were to the freshmen and the mentor/mentee relationships that grew from the organization. It was important that he could ask questions in a space that wasn’t intimidating, and he cites their Facebook group as being an amazing shared resource for information on everything from which classes to take to how to navigate the CalFresh system.
When I asked Keon what advice he would give to students who weren’t matched through QuestBridge, he said:
Don’t lose hope! The regular decision process is a whole other chance and opportunity...You’ve worked really hard for this and, regardless of the results, you should pat yourself on the back. Especially for a first gen, low income student, this process is daunting…so props to you for going through it! You will make it. The work ethic that you have is unlike anyone else’s so that sort of mentality and the struggles you’ve been through definitely make you a strong individual…it will take you very far.
This can be a stressful time, but above all else, Keon advises high school seniors to savor the last year of high school, especially time with friends. Don’t get too comfortable, though! New adventures are about to call you, and your future family of Quest Scholars can’t wait to meet you.