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Applications due Sept. 30 for unique college match, scholarship program



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September 14, 2011 - Oxford High School seniors interested in the opportunity to gain admission to the top colleges and universities in the country and possibly receive a full four-year scholarship have until Friday, Sept. 30 to apply for a unique program.

Since 1994, the QuestBridge National College Match program has helped connect high-achieving, low-income high school seniors with college admissions, scholarships and other educational opportunities.

"It's specifically targeting the under-represented population as well as (those who are) first in the family to go to college," said Kai-Lynn Rim, the academic and career transitions coordinator at OHS. "It's a good opportunity that students and parents should at least know about."

In Oxford, Rim estimated "about a handful" of students "could be eligible" for the QuestBridge program every year.

"Of course, we're not in an urban, depressed area or anything close to that, but wherever you go, there's going to be pockets of individuals who will fit the criteria," she said.

QuestBridge has no "absolute criteria" when it comes to grade point average, standardized test scores or income.

Students are selected as finalists for the National College Match based largely on two questions 1) Does this student have the motivation and academic ability to thrive in college?; 2) Has this student overcome socioeconomic obstacles to achieve academic excellence?

Finalists for the QuestBridge program have their applications forwarded on to its 30 partner colleges for review and selection.

QuestBridge's partner colleges include the nation's top institutions of higher education such as Yale University, Dartmouth College, University of Southern California, Vassar College, Northwestern University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, just to name a few.

Last year, more than 1,300 QuestBridge applicants were admitted to partner colleges, receiving financial aid worth more than $100 million.

All the partner colleges offer generous financial aid that covers 100 percent of a student's demonstrated financial need.

Of the applicants admitted last year, a total of 310 received College Match scholarships covering the full cost of tuition, room and board, a combined total of approximately $55,000 per year. Most of the partner colleges automatically renew the scholarship for all four years of college and all College Match scholarships are loan-free.

Most College Match scholarship recipients come from households earning less than $60,000 annually for a typical family of four and have experienced long-term economic hardship.

Oxford High's already had one QuestBridge winner and that was Lindsay Stairs, a 2010 graduate. She received a full four-year scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League college, where she planned to study astrophysics in the hopes of one day working for NASA.

"We also had a couple students apply last year, but without as much success," Rim noted in an e-mail.

Rim believes QuestBridge needs to be publicized more for the benefit of students, parents and counseling professionals such as herself.

"In all honesty, I didn't know about the program until (Stairs) brought the application to me two years ago," she admitted.

Applications are available at www.questbridge.org. There is absolutely no charge to apply.

According to the program's website, "The application includes numerous questions and essay prompts that aid students in presenting a full picture of their intellectual promise and personal qualities in light of the obstacles they have overcome."

Rim said she's willing to make herself available to any students who need assistance filling it out.

"You do have to go through a lot of steps," she said. "It's an application that requires a little bit more than maybe your usual application. When I was working with (Stairs), it was pretty extensive."

Those interested in contacting Rim about the QuestBridge application can call her at (248) 969-5147 or e-mail kai-lynn.rim@oxfordschools.org.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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