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On Dec. 1, 11 members of the class of 2014 received more than the big envelope.
These students received not only early admission to Brown but a full scholarship, thanks to Brown's participation for the first time in QuestBridge, a non-profit program that seeks to match high-achieving, low-income high school students with top colleges and provide them with full, four-year scholarships.

QuestBridge provides scholarships through a program called National College Match. High school seniors who apply to the program and are selected as finalists are then eligible for full or mostly full scholarships to 27 partner universities, pending their admission to the schools, according to the program's Web site. Students rank their eight preferred schools on the application and then must attend the highest school on their list that admits them. Washington and Lee University and Brown are the two newest additions to the program, joining a roster of schools that includes Yale, Princeton and Columbia.

Not all finalists in the program are "matched" to a partner college in the early round of admission, meaning that not every finalist is offered admission and a full scholarship at one of their top choice schools. Last academic year, about 11 percent of finalists — or 260 students — were admitted with a full scholarship from QuestBridge in the early round, according to the program's Web site. Some finalists who were deferred in the early application cycle could then be offered admission and financial aid packages from their schools along with other regular decision applicants, but they would not receive a QuestBridge scholarship.

Dean of Admission Jim Miller '73 said Brown decided to become a partner in the program after the "uniformly positive" experiences of other peer institutions.

He said QuestBridge was "very effective at finding students who might not be in our applicant pool."

Miller said he is "very impressed with the range of students QuestBridge attracts," describing the QuestBridge students admitted to Brown as "very, very talented."

Najma Yakob '14, of South Senior High School in Minneapolis, was one of the 11 students selected to receive the scholarship. She wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that her reaction to receiving the scholarship was "half-complete amazement and half-complete disbelief."

Without the program, "I probably would have gone to a state school here, simply because of the financial constraints," she wrote.

Steven Arroyo '14, of Stuyvesant High School in New York, will also be coming to campus next year with a QuestBridge scholarship. He wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that the QuestBridge application itself was an advantage in the admissions process.

"It was tailored to allow applicants to explain more intimately their family life, what they'd overcome to achieve success, and things of that nature," he wrote. "It was a chance to actually show all aspects of my character to the admissions officers."

The benefits of the scholarship are more than just monetary. The program offers leadership retreats annually for college students, and alums of the program are available for mentoring and career connections, according to its Web site. The program also encourages alums to give back in the future when they have the ability to assist other low-income students through the college application process and the job search.

"QuestBridge is a fantastic opportunity and the fact that it has done this for me will never escape my memory. They have single-handedly defined my life for me," Yakob wrote. "This isn't just a small thing. They're changing lives here."


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