Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Matching Top Colleges, Low-Income Students

The second person I met here is Michael McCullough, a Stanford doctor and Rhodes Scholar who founded QuestBridge, one of the most remarkable (and least publicized) educational programs I've encountered.  I've just agreed to join its East Coast Advisory Board, which is co-chaired by Senator Bill Bradley.


QB addresses a huge problem: that far too many really talented, qualified low-income, minority students "undermatch" when applying to college for a variety of reasons, and thus end up in 2nd- and 3rd-tier schools when they could be going to 1st-tier schools on full rides.  QB scours the country for top students, has them fill out a common application, which then goes to 28 top colleges and universities who all do Early Action for these candidates, and then makes matches.  In a few short years, QB has become the largest pipeline of low-income, minority students to top schools.  Below is the only major article about the program, from the WSJ more than two years ago:

Last year, when Amherst College welcomed 473 new students to its idyllic campus, 10% of them came from QuestBridge.

But QuestBridge is no elite private school. It's a nonprofit start-up in Palo Alto, Calif., that matches gifted, low-income students with 20 of the nation's top colleges. In return, the schools -- including Princeton, Yale, Stanford and Columbia -- give scholarships to the students and pay QuestBridge for helping to diversify their student bodies.

The program is gaining in popularity because it addresses a growing interest of private and public colleges: increasing the diversity of their student bodies without relying solely on race. Since some states banned racial preferences in college admissions, many public colleges have begun focusing on income as a means to broaden the backgrounds of their students. Private schools, while not bound by the states' restrictions, are also eager to admit more students from low-income families.

…QuestBridge's use of the Internet has allowed it to have a big impact relatively quickly. In addition to its showing at Amherst last year, 2% to 6% of the accepted freshmen at Princeton, Wellesley and Williams last year were QuestBridge applicants, and 62 QuestBridgers were accepted at Stanford. In total, the program has placed 2,300 low-income students in top colleges in the four years of its existence. By contrast, the Posse Program has placed 1,850 students in 18 years.


  • NOVEMBER 15, 2007

Matching Top Colleges, Low-Income Students



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