After a months-long, multi-step application process, senior Kevin Yeung received notification he had been matched with Princeton University through the Questbridge program. The admission decision, which Yeung received Dec. 3, included full tuition for four years at Princeton.
Questbridge, a Palo Alto-based program, allows low-income, high-achieving high school students to afford an education at one of their 40 partners, which are highly-ranked colleges that participate in the program. Yeung, being a first generation college applicant and meeting the requirements for Questbridge, decided to apply with the encouragement of his counselor, Mrs. Sharon Bikoundou.
After completing a lengthy application process that involved multiple long essay questions, Yeung found out he was a Questbridge finalist. From there he had a month to rank up to 12 schools and complete the supplemental essays and questions for those schools. If he was “matched,” he would receive a full scholarship to attend that institution. Out of 16,248 Questbridge applicants and 6,507 eventual Finalists, 1,044 students were selected as recipients of the College Match Scholarship.
“Princeton was number four on my list, but I knew I would be happy to get into any of my top six schools,” Yeung said. “People rank colleges, but for these six in particular you can’t compare them with each other. They each offer something unique.” Princeton had all the majors that Yeung was looking for, particularly in the engineering field.
Yeung opened the letter in Mrs. Bikoundou’s office and found out he had been matched with Princeton, the only Heritage student to be matched this year. “To he able to be there with him and see that he got into Princeton was overwhelmingly joyful,” Mrs. Bikoundou said. “I screamed so loud they almost called security. He logged on and we saw he was matched, and we both looked at each other and screamed before we even knew what school he was matched with. It was one of the best experiences in my 13 years of being a counselor.”
After experiencing all the program has to offer, Yeung has begun encouraging other students he knows to apply for the program, adding to the network of students that Questbridge fosters.
“In addition to the scholarship, Questbridge offers a network of other applicants who received scholarships, called Questies,” Yeung said. “It’s a network of students that helps us adapt to the conditions of college.”
Along with the mentorship aspect of the program is the ability for finalists and students who eventually got matched to connect. “Through the Facebook group, [you get] to meet people all around the world,” Yeung said. “I’ve met a lot of people in extreme poverty, and they were still able to do well academically, even though they faced so many problems. That was very eye-opening.”
Questbridge applicants discussed not only their academic achievement but also the financial and personal aspects of their life.
“What they really look for is to tell your own story, especially when it comes to your financial situation,” Yeung said. “They want you to not be afraid to say that problems you might be facing at home. Some things you don’t want to say to your friends; you want to put on a brave face when you go out into the world. But you have to be honest with Questbridge so they understand what you’re going through.”
Kevin will enroll at Princeton and begin school at the New Jersey university in the fall.