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QuestBridge Details

QuestBridge LogoQuestBridge is a nationwide program that connects talented, under-served students with high-quality education opportunities after high school.  Since 2013, we have been a partner college with QuestBridge.  We also partner with organizations like the Posse Foundation, College Horizons, Venture Scholars, and many more. 

What is QuestBridge? 

The QuestBridge program and its partner colleges provide opportunities for students in their junior and senior year of high school, through three separate programs:

  • National College Match, for high school seniors: earn admission to one of 36 partner colleges, with a financial aid award that covers full tuition, room, and board (with $0 in loans and $0 in parental contribution)
  • College Prep Scholarship, for high school juniors: receive free test prep and early access to the National College Match application, plus become eligible for other opportunities like attending one of QuestBridge's National College Admissions Conferences and receiving essay coaching
  • Quest for Excellence Awards, for juniors and seniors: receive an award for either a new laptop or iPad or an expense-paid visit to a QuestBridge partner college (like Carleton!)

Students who participate in QuestBridge become QuestBridge Scholars once they get to college.  Carleton currently has over 30 QuestBridge Scholars, including 15 or so students who came to us through the National College Match process.  QuestBridge has established the QuestBridge Scholars Network for QuestBridge Scholars to connect in college and beyond, as they pursue careers in different fields and continue to aspire for excellence.  Every QuestBridge partner college has a chapter of the QuestBridge Scholars Network.

How is the National Match different from Early Decision? 

Both are binding admissions programs: if you are admitted, you are expected to attend.  The difference lies in what your financial aid award will look like.

At Carleton, we have a firm commitment to meeting the full demonstrated need of all admitted students, through a combination of need-based grants, loans, and work-study wages.  The QuestBridge National College Match program takes this commitment even farther: Matched Scholars receive a financial aid award that covers the full comprehensive fee of tuition, room, and board, without any loans or parental contribution.  

Wait, what?  A full scholarship with $0 in loans?

That's right!  Each year, Carleton matches 5-8 students through QuestBridge's National College Match.  These students receive financial aid awards that cover the full cost of tuition, room, and board, and include $0 in loans and $0 in parental contribution.

Students who apply for the National College Match can list up to 8 partner colleges in ranked order of preference.  These colleges then receive the applications of all the students who ranked them.  Their admissions committees review the applications and select a group of students they'd like to admit with the four-year College Match scholarship.  QuestBridge uses this list, plus the students' rankings, to complete matches between students and colleges.  You can only be matched to one school, and after you're matched, you must withdraw all other outstanding applications. 


Who should consider QuestBridge?

We hope that all students who have achieved academic excellence in the face of economic challenge will consider applying for QuestBridge.  QuestBridge has identified some common benchmarks for typical College Match Finalists:

  • in the top 5-10% of their class
  • scored >1250 on the SAT (CR+M) or >27 on the ACT
  • come from households earning less than $60,000 per year
  • may be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch
  • may be part of the first generation in their family to attend college

Our current QuestBridge Scholars come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.  Like all Carleton students, our QuestBridge Scholars are united by a shared joy of learning, which permeates not just our classrooms but also our sports fields, theater stages, and dorm lounges.  A Carleton education is rigorous, but it isn't cutthroat.  Our students are joyfully competitive -- more likely to inspire one another than jockey for favor.  This spirit fosters not only academic excellence, but also depth, creativity, and compassion.  Does this sound like you?  Let us know you're interested!

How can I learn more about Carleton?

Check out our website!  Carleton students love to learn, and we hope you do, too. Student life is full of clubs, sports, performances, and wacky traditions.  We've also put together a series of videos on a variety of topics related to life as a Carl.  Of course, visit to campus is really the best way to get a sense of our community, and we're pleased to offer some travel assistance to QuestBridge-connected students.  We hope to see you soon!


What's the QuestBridge timeline?

Students interested in participating in QuestBridge's programs will need to pay close attention to deadlines.  QuestBridge does a good job of outlining the specific details of the deadlines, but this will give you the general idea:  

  • March of your junior year:  Apply for the College Prep Scholarship.  This is not required for consideration in the National College Match Process, but it's how you'll be come eligible to attend one of the National College Admissions Conferences and receive other benefits of being a College Prep Scholar.  Through this process, you can apply for the Quest for Excellence Awards, too.
  • Early summer between junior and senior years: Attend one of QuestBridge's National College Admissions Conferences, where you'll receive help on your college applications, meet other ambitious high school students like you, and learn about partner colleges (like Carleton!)
  • Summer between junior and senior years: Take advantage of our travel voucher and arrange a visit to our campus (to help share the opportunity among as many students as possible, we limit students to just 1 travel voucher)
  • Late summer between junior and senior years: Begin work on your National College Match application, if you haven't already started!
  • Late September of your senior year: Submit your National College Match application.  Through this process, you can apply for the Quest for Excellence Awards, too.
  • Mid October of your senior year: Submit your ranked list of partner colleges for matching.
  • Late October of your senior year: Find out if you've been named a finalist.  If you aren't a finalist, and Carleton remains your first choice, you can contact us to change your application to Early Decision (binding). You can change your application to Regular Decision through QuestBridge's application portal.
  • November of your senior year: Partner colleges' admissions committees meet to select our National College Match Scholars, and QuestBridge makes matches based on Finalists' rankings
  • December 1 of your senior year: QuestBridge announces Matched Scholars. 
  • Mid December of your senior year: If you aren't a Matched Scholar and remain interested in Carleton, you'll need to use QuestBridge's application portal to convert your application to Regular Decision.  You can contact us if you're interested in applying Early Decision.
  • December through March of your senior year: Non-Matched Scholars who converted their applications are considered in our Early Decision or Regular Decision rounds.  Decisions come out by April 1.

Phew!  It's a lot to keep track of, we know.  If you have questions, check out the more detailed information from QuestBridge and get in touch with us if there's anything we can clarify about our process.


Who can I talk to about QuestBridge at Carleton?

We're so glad you asked.  Please get in touch with us and we'll help connect you with the right person, whether it's...

  • a member of the QuestBridge Admissions Committee
  • a current Carleton Matched Scholar
  • a current Carleton Quest Scholar
  • a faculty member from a department you're interested in

... or someone totally different!  You can always email us at or give us a call at 1-800-995-2275.  And if you're still craving more info, but don't have specific questions, check out the Carleton QuestBridge Scholars Facebook group, or QuestBridge Scholars Network accounts for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.