The administration has said that changes to need-blind admissionspolicies will not affect students admitted through Questbridge’s National College Match program; however, current Quest Scholars have expressed concern about the future of low-income students’ presence on campus.
Questbridge, which the University has participated in for four years, is a college admissions program that gives low-income students the opportunity to apply for free to up to 8 of 33 top colleges and universities that participate in a program called the National College Match. If accepted to one of the schools that he or she ranked, the student receives a full four-year, loan-free, and tuition-free scholarship, including room and board.
However, not all low-income students are interested in applying to college through Questbridge. Applications are due early—by the end of September during the applicant’s senior year in high school. Once accepted, admission to a student’s ranked school is binding (except when a student is admitted to a university with early-action admissions). This puts students in a difficult position; students with the same credentials who choose not to apply through Questbridge will have less of a chance of being accepted under the new admissions policy.
In addition, students who apply through Questbridge and are rejected from their top eight choices are still considered Questbridge Finalists but are no longer eligible for the scholarship. These rejected finalists then apply early and regular decision to various schools and are considered for financial aid at those schools. This poses problems for those low-income students applying to the University whose applications might be affected negatively by the amount of financial aid they require.
Erik Islo ’15 currently serves as the University’s campus liaison for the Quest Scholars Network (QSN) which is comprised of all Questbridge Finalists—regardless of whether or not they were admitted through the National College Match process. Each partner college has a student liaison to the QSN headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.
The QSN hosts meetings and events, and it also provides Quest Scholars with funding for activities on each partner college campus. These activities vary by university, and can include anything from community service outings to Thanksgiving dinners.
Islo explained that the QSN has been growing on campus ever since its inception. He shared his initial reaction to the removal of need-blind admissions last May.
“It’s like Roth is saying that students like me aren’t necessarily wanted here,” he said. “It costs money, and money is what distinguishes us from other students.”
Lindsey Proper ’15, a Quest Scholar and the former campus liaison, worried that the University will use Questbridge as a hypocritical admissions policy for low-income students. Islo shared her concern about how the new admissions policy will affect class diversity on campus.
“Even if you were not accepted to the University via the College Match [but were considered a finalist], you are still considered a Quest Scholar on campus,” he said. “A lot of people want us to be here because they’re paying a lot for us to be here. We have racial diversity, why not class diversity?”
The University’s QSN is growing to include more meetings and activities aimed at creating a stronger community of low-income students on campus. Proper said that she hosted a Thanksgiving meal for all Quest Scholars last fall.
Islo agreed that having a strong QSN presence on campus is an essential element of the Quest Scholar college experience.
“Everyone knows that wherever you’ve been, and wherever you are, you’ve worked your ass off [to get there],” Islo said.
Despite the University’s commitment to continuing its work with Questbridge, it remains unclear how the new need-aware policy will affect their growing community in more subtle ways.
For more information about the QSN at Wesleyan, contact campus liaison Erik Islo ’15 (firstname.lastname@example.org).