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December 20, 2018

USC’s QuestBridge Scholar Community

QuestBridge is a national scholarship organization for high-achieving, low-income high school students. The program offers two scholarships, one for high school juniors called the College Prep Scholars Program, and a senior scholarship called the National College Match Scholarship. While we match fewer than 10 students every year through the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship, we have one of the largest QuestBridge Scholars Network because so many QuestBridge finalists are admitted through USC’s regular decision admission process. If you are not matched, you will still be eligible for USC’s institutional merit scholarships.

To give you a perspective of USC’s Questbridge Scholar Network, I recently spoke with current President Edgar Bustos and past President Vanni Le. Edgar is one of our few matched scholars on campus. Although Vanni was not matched, she interviewed for the Trustee Scholarship and ultimately decided to attend USC.

Edgar’s hometown is Dallas, Texas and I spoke to him the day after he flew home. Like many of our amazing students on campus pursuing multiple interests, Edgar informed me that he is triple-majoring in Business, Economics, and Political Science with a minor in Law and Public Policy.

I asked him if he remembered his Match Day:

Edgar: I do remember when I was matched. I wanted to be with family when I checked my portal so I was waiting until after school to log in. I was actually driving over to my girlfriend’s family’s home when Kirk Brennan called to congratulate me. I did not process what had happened until I was sitting inside my parked car. It was a wave of emotions. I was sitting in my beat up car that I managed to buy after years of working at the Outback Steakhouse. I must have looked crazy to anyone walking by because I was just laughing and crying. I had flash backs of my life up to this moment, it felt like all my hard work had paid off and there was something different on the horizon. I was the only student from my high school to be matched through the QuestBridge program.

He also spoke about the mission of the USC Quest Scholars organization:

Edgar: Our QuestBridge group is not just for Match students, it’s for all Finalists. We are an organization focused on first-generation, low-income students. Because the ratio of match to non-match Scholars is so small, matches are kind of seen as mythical people. Our mission is to provide a community on campus. Sometimes we might not feel immediately welcomed in the culture of a school. College is not a low-income thing. It’s a high society thing. Each QuestBridge chapter across the U.S. develops an agenda based on the current leadership. Our current mission is 360 support and that means focusing on the community around USC. This community is similar to the communities that many of us in QuestBridge are coming from.

Additionally, Edgar had the following advice for future QuestBridge applicants:

Edgar: Something I did that I do not recommend is to put all your eggs in one basket. For most of the fall semester, all I worked on was my QuestBridge application. I did not apply to any state schools and was balancing my time between senior year, the QuestBridge application, and two part-time jobs. I realized the day before Match Day that I hadn’t really planned for not being matched. I definitely recommend putting in a lot of work into your application and prioritize it but make sure you have other options as well. Additionally, I only ranked 3 out of 8 possible schools. Every time you add a new school to your rankings it’s a new supplement you need to complete for that school. Most schools want to see a very convincing “why us” statement. Do not think of this process as collecting trophies.

Another QuestBridge Scholar I was able to speak with is Vanni Le. Vanni is originally from Tampa, Florida and is currently pursuing a progressive degree in Digital and Social Media through the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. In her 4th year at USC, Vanni is technically a graduate student.

I asked Vanni about her experience with the QuestBridge community at USC.

Vanni: Last year, I was president of the QuestBridge group. My freshmen year I was not that involved because I was trying to adjust to campus. However, during my 2nd year, I got involved as a graphic designer creating the logo and working on social media. After being on the executive board, I realized I could make an impact with the first-generation low-income student community on campus. During my year as president, my biggest goal was to establish relationships with administrative offices at USC and have more of a presence on campus. Due to my efforts, there is a new chair in the executive board team known as the University Relations Chair.

I also asked Vanni to provide advice for students who are not matched, which is a large majority of our Questbridge Scholar network on campus.

Vanni: I think every non-match student might have the feeling of, “How am I going to afford college without this scholarship?” Don’t be discouraged. QuestBridge Finalists have been identified through the QuestBridge organization for being amazing. You will be fine wherever you end up in college and you will be able to afford college. For example, I was not matched but I was invited to interview for USC’s Trustee Scholarship. I would encourage you to have faith that schools are really going to want you on their campus. Also, you are not going to be treated differently for not matching with USC. I think in my four years at USC, I’ve probably only met two QuestBridge Match students.

In general, Vanni had the following advice for any student headed to college: “As a freshman, try everything and anything. I have a couple of regrets for not trying everything and now my schedule is too full to try things”.

While the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship is a great opportunity for first-generation, low-income students, USC is committed to providing an affordable education to any admitted student. We are need-blind in our process and do not make admissions decisions based off your economic background. As a private institution, we are able to fully fund demonstrated need for our students. For more information on Financial Aid Resources at USC please visit our Financial Aid website.

Ways to contact QuestBridge at USC

Email: usc.liaison@questbridge.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/uscquest/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/usc.questbridge/

Check out our previous QuestBridge Blog Post: I’m Not a QuestBridge Match, What Does This Mean?

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