The Columns

Washington and Lee University Partners with QuestBridge

— by on November 18th, 2009

As part of its continuing efforts to attract and enroll a diverse group of students, Washington and Lee University has partnered with QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that assists low-income, high-achieving students with college applications.

The QuestBridge program will augment W&L’s outreach efforts, according to Erin Hutchinson, senior associate director of admissions.

QuestBridge’s National College Match Program connects high-achieving, low-income students with admission and scholarships to approximately 27 partner colleges and universities. In 2008-09, it enabled more than 1,000 students to receive admission and financial aid from partner colleges. Partner institutions include Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Swarthmore, Emory and Rice, among others.

“Even though we did not get involved with QuestBridge until late in the summer, we’ve been pleased and surprised with the level of interest that we’ve seen,” Hutchinson said. “We have begun reading the applications and are finding that students who are applying through this program are bringing a very different set of experiences than we’ve traditionally seen.

“At the same time, these are really high-achieving, low-income students who are interested in attending competitive schools like Washington and Lee. Their academic records are exceptional, and their personal qualities are impressive.”

The QuestBridge National College Match program provides two different paths for students to gain admission partner colleges. One is an early admissions option in which students complete one application by September 30 and use it to apply early to up to eight of QuestBridge’s 27 partner colleges, ranking the schools in order of preference and agreeing to attend the school that ranks highest on their list and accepts them. All the colleges agree to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need of students selected through this program, and, as is the case with all W&L students receiving need-based financial aid, eliminating loans that may comprise part of a conventional financial aid package.

Meanwhile, the QuestBridge Regular Decision process enables qualified students to apply to partner colleges for free via the regular admissions process using their QuestBridge application.

Membership in QuestBridge is in keeping with the University’s strategic plan, which calls for W&L to “[e]nroll greater numbers of qualified American ethnic minorities and students from low- and middle-income families.” An ad hoc Committee on Socioeconomic Diversity in the Undergraduate Student Body submitted its report to President Kenneth P. Ruscio in June 2009. Among its recommendations was that Washington and Lee affiliate with an organization designed to increase college access to students in traditionally underserved populations.

In his response to the committee’s report, Ruscio said that “QuestBridge is one such group that immediately meets our needs and works with colleges that have rigorous admissions standards and demanding academic programs.”

Additional details about QuestBridge and the National College Match are available on the QuestBridge Web site.