Meet the QuestBridge finalists


Going to your top choice university and getting a full ride scholarship sounds like a dream, right? Well, this is the reality for three QuestBridge Finalists: Skylar Stephens, Maddie Praxl and Hailey-Ann Plues. 

QuestBridge is a scholarship opportunity for low to middle income, high achieving students. It gives gifted students who would not normally be able to afford a high quality education the opportunity to thrive.

QuestBridge is available to high school seniors, however, juniors are able to apply early in February where they have the chance to become a College Prep Scholar. Juniors who become College Prep Scholars have a 70 percent increased chance to become a finalist.

18,000 students nationwide applied to be finalists, yet only 6,885 students were selected. Out of the selected finalists, three came from our high school. 

“I was shocked when I found out I was a finalist,” Plues said.  “I wasn’t really expecting to be chosen, especially since my ACT score was on the lower end of the average.”

Becoming a finalist is a competitive and rigorous process, especially for students who already have a lot on their plates senior year.

“Questbridge is very competitive, there were over 18,000 applicants this year,” Stephens said. “I was extremely shocked to be chosen as one of the finalists since only 6,885 students were selected.”

Making the time to complete the process is also challenging. The application is lengthy and applicants are required to write several long essays.

“[It] takes a lot of time to fill out the applications,” Praxl said. “It takes hours and hours, but in the end, if you get a match or crazy financial aid, it will all be worth it. It’s also only for people who qualify as low income.” 

Students who qualify as match finalists are matched with one of their top schools (public or private) and are given a full ride scholarship for four years. However, one does not have to be selected as a finalist to reap the benefits of QuestBridge.

“If you do not get to be a finalist and are a college prep scholar (the first, but not necessary, step), you are able to apply for regular decision to get more financial aid then you would originally through QuestBridge,” Praxl said.

Apart from financial aid, QuestBridge can help with several other parts of the application process.

“It also provided free resources for the college application process and gave a ton of opportunities to earn money towards college,” Plues said. “Through QuestBridge, I was able to get a college adviser who has helped me through the entire process and provided feedback on my essays.”

This program is extremely helpful to those from low or middle class income families as a college education can be extremely expensive in the United States. According to EducationData, “The average cost of attendance at any 4-year institution is $25,362.”

“It’s given me something to work for and it could potentially relieve a ton of stress,” Praxl said. “My family and I value education but since it’s really hard to pay for some colleges, this could really impact our lives for years, and for the better.”

Many students are very academically talented, but their families lack of funds prevents them from getting into top universities.

“Education at some of the best colleges isn’t an option for many students, even if they are academically gifted, because of cost,” Stephens said. “QuestBridge helps get rid of this problem, giving students a great opportunity.”

All three of the finalists said they would recommend QuestBridge to any student willing to put in the time.

“I would definitely recommend it to them if they are willing to take on the amount of hard work you need to put into it,” Praxl said.

The QuestBridge application is also free. This allows any student who is interested to take advantage of the opportunities they provide. These three students all heard about QuestBridge from their counselors.

“I would totally recommend it to other students. If you are eligible to apply, I say do it,” Plues said. “You never know what could happen. Plus the application is free and it is worth it to be able to go to college for free.”

QuestBridge can help all students and takes a huge weight off of many families. If you are a high achieving student and worry about how your family will be able to afford college, look into QuestBridge.