Sobechukwu Uwajeh (Matteson, Illinois) and Ashley Trube’s (Hutto, Texas) families took a gamble sending them to Culver Academies.
In each case, their families had to sacrifice to send them to Culver, even with the scholarship monies each girl received. But their families decided they would look at Culver as an investment that would pay dividends when it came time for college.
Now, with the QuestBridge National College Match program, that investment is paying off. Uwajeh wll be attending Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. Trube is heading to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
QuestBridge pairs high-achieving, low-come high school seniors with full scholarships to the nation’s top colleges. This year, there were 15,606 applicants, from which 5,759 finalists were chosen. A total of 918 students were matched with one of QuestBridge’s 40 partner colleges.
The students receive guaranteed four-year scholarships, including tuition, room and board, and other expenses. The students may apply to up to 12 schools and must take the top college they are matched with. The colleges provide the scholarships.
That’s when I realized it had changed my life.
Trube didn’t fully realize what was happening when she first learned she was matched with Macalester.
“It really didn’t sink in until I was telling my grandmother,” Trube said. “That’s when I started crying. That’s when I realized it had changed my life.”
The QuestBridge application process is intense. The financial paperwork and tax forms “are the worst part,” they said. The application is very extensive, but it actually turned into a cathartic experience for each.
“There is no interview,” Uwajeh explained, “so the application is very in-depth. It is very, very personal. There are two long essays and several smaller ones. But the process really helped. I wrote about things some of my closest friends don’t know about me.”
“It really helped me focus on the trajectory I was going on,” Trube said.
After being selected as finalists, Trube and Uwajeh each decided to apply to all 12 partner colleges they had selected. But they had just two weeks to complete the applications. Even with using the common application, the essays took a lot of time.
Both girls thanked Humanities instructor Richard Battersby for assisting them with their essays and applications. They said he spent a lot of extra time working with the finalists.
Culver had five finalists, but Trube and Uwajeh were the only two to match and accept. The other three finalists received scholarship opportunities to colleges not affiliated with QuestBridge. Michael Bocker (Wheaton, Illinois) will be attending Harvard on a full ride. Sarina McCabe (South Bend, Indiana) received a full ride to Emory University. And Elena Prieto (Culver) received a significant scholarship package from Indiana University.
When Uwajeh and Trube visited their schools, they understood why the application was so extensive. Each college felt like a perfect fit. There were also fellow QuestBridge students on hand to meet with them and answer their questions during their visits.
“It’s just like here,” Uwajeh said of Claremont McKenna. “There is a community of people that you know and you all have something in common.”
Having just returned from her visit to Macalester, Trube said, “I know it is the place I want to be for the next four years.”