Chance Me for QuestBridge NCM


  • US citizen
  • Resident of 2 states due to military: Arkansas and Montana
  • Prestigious public boarding school
  • Female/White
  • Not first gen

Intended Major(s)

  • Psychology or neuroscience major, Japanese or East Asian studies minor

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted GPA: 4.19 (no available APs, many of the classes related to my major/interests aren’t concurrent credit)
  • Class Rank: N/A, but I’m above average for my school profile
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 33 ACT (36 on reading, 35 on English, 31s in math and science), retaking in July


  • 4 on APUSH exam (only AP, current school does not offer any)
  • All concurrent credit classes and honors courses
  • 2 years of German (current school does not offer)
  • 1 year of Japanese (taking Japanese II next year, self studying Japanese I currently)


  • QuestBridge College Prep Scholar - 2022
  • Outstanding student in humanities and sociology - 2022
  • 3rd place at humanities symposium - 2022
  • Various speech and debate awards - 2018-2021
  • Most valuable member of speech and debate team - 2021
  • Various academic awards from previous school - 2019-2021


  • Student Ambassador for my school
  • Japan Peace Project (cultural exchange related to WW2 which will have me in Japan for 10 days in October, lots of work required and currently learning Japanese for it)
  • President of Interact Club (community service org)
  • Vice president of Human Rights Club
  • President of Linguistics Club
  • Published literary analysis research paper in my school’s student journal about Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s unique surrealist style
  • Head of stage crew for drama club
  • Maybe Pioneer Academics, still waiting on summer session results

I’m still workshopping essay ideas, but my main talking points will be growing up in a military family, living in Germany for most of my childhood then coming to Arkansas, raising my younger sibling, and my mom with substance abuse issues. I’m going to try to connect these topics to my interest in psychology through the use of psychology-related concepts/media as a metaphor.

Humanities research instructor and English teacher: 10/10 (loves me, loves writing LORs, knows a lot about me personally)
Sociology/Psychology teacher: 9/10 (LOVES me but is older and hates writing LORs haha)
Literature teacher: 9/10 (loves me, loves writing LORs, doesn’t know as much about my personal life)

Cost Constraints / Budget

  • EFC will likely be ~3-5k, but my parents are divorcing, and that number will likely be impacted
  • I qualify for in-state tuition in Montana and Arkansas


  • Safety: MSU Bozeman (RD) and University of Arkansas Fayetteville (EA)
  • Target: University of Washington (RD), Lehigh University (RD) (need more recommendations for targets!)
  • Reach: Bates College (RD), Johns Hopkins (RD), Harvard (maybe?), Cornell (RD)
  • National College Match Ranking Concept: 1. UChicago 2. Stanford 3. Yale 4. Columbia 5. UPenn
  • QuestBridge RD: Bowdoin College (applying to Explore Bowdoin), Brown University, Emory University, Middlebury College, Northwestern University, Pomona College, Swarthmore College (applying to Discover Swarthmore), Williams College

Please chance me, and if you know some schools you think I’d like, give me more target colleges!

i have no clue on QB - but I think a lot ofher states give in-state to military families so you may look into that.

And schools like Arizona, Alabama, MIssissippi State, etc. will be very generous - although not make your #. Those and others have auto merit…so you might look into them if they’d be of more interest than your in state options.

Good luck.

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Only for retired military sadly :confused:
I’ll look into those for sure, thanks!

Many highly selective private colleges also require both parents’ cooperation with financial aid forms. Will both be cooperative? If not, you may want to include Vanderbilt as well as Chicago in your QB NCM list if the other colleges do not waive the non-custodial parent finances requirement.


Though documents won’t reflect the abuse because my parents aren’t going through court, I think my explanation backed by my counselor and therapist should be enough to qualify for a waiver. And if it isn’t waived for whatever reason, my mother will remain unemployed and live off alimony from my dad anyhow.

It does not matter what you think – it matters what each college thinks.

Well yeah ofc, but based on what I’ve read from their sites and from previous applicants, I imagine they would be inclined to give me the waiver given my situation. And like I said, if they deny it, I doubt it would impact my profile considerably because my other parent will not have savings or assets.

Congratulations on all of your accomplishments so far! I only have limited familiarity with Questbridge, but I do know that it’s awesome you’ve been accepted and it’s a great opportunity as well. That’s a pretty great hook, but your geographic residence (whether Arkansas or Montana) is also going to be an attractive feature to a lot of colleges that are trying to make sure they have someone from all 50 states.

Is there anyone you would be able to stay with in Bozeman or Fayetteville where you could commute and attend school? If your family can only pay $3-5k, then neither would be a safety. A safety should be both extremely likely for acceptance AND affordability. In your situation, it seems that a community college or a local public that was commuting distance away would be a safety, as you would likely receive full tuition from scholarships and grants, and then the $3-5k would be used for books and transportation costs.

Also, most colleges like to see 1 letter of recommendation (LOR) from someone in the humanities/social sciences, 1 from math/science, and then 1 additional LOR (if they require 3). Thus, you might want to switch one of your LORs out to get one from a math/science perspective.

How did you develop your list of QuestBridge schools? Due to your interest in Japanese (and the fact that it’s a relatively rare major among U.S. colleges), I went through to see which Questbridge partners offered a major. There were 18 of them:

  • Boston U
  • Colgate
  • Dartmouth
  • Emory
  • Macalester
  • Middlebury
  • Pomona
  • Scripps
  • Stanford
  • Swarthmore
  • Tufts
  • U. of Notre Dame
  • Vassar
  • Washington U.
  • Wellesley
  • Wesleyan
  • Williams
  • Yale

Looking at your list of College Match rankings, you only list 5. My understanding is that you could rank up to 15. Has that changed? The Questbridge website doesn’t seem to indicate so. If it’s still 15, I would use all 15 of your slots as that would be one of your best ways of getting in and at a price that your family can afford. I would figure out what are your 15 favorite Questbridge schools and put them in order. Then look at their admission rates and stats of incoming students and make sure you have one or two that are not ultra-competitive for admission (though to be frank, all of the schools are competitive). For instance, Wellesley and Colgate are around 22-23% and Scripps has an acceptance rate of 32%. In comparison with schools with acceptance rates below 10%, these others are at least 2-3x likelier for admission.

In developing your non-QB list, these are schools that offer a Japanese major and meet 100% of financial need:

  • Bates (ME), 12% admit rate
  • Georgetown (D.C.), 14% admit rate
  • Occidental (CA), 37% admit rate
  • St. Olaf (MN), 48% admit rate
  • Trinity (CT), 33% admit rate
  • Wake Forest (NC), 30% admit rate

Run the Net Price Calculator (NPC) at these schools to see how they calculate your family’s need. If they calculate it in such a way that it would be affordable for your family, then they are contenders. But running the NPC is important because not all schools will calculate financial need the same way. (I read a post where one college calculated need as $20k less than other schools!)


I really appreciate how in depth you were with this, thank you so much!!

I listed Fayetteville and Bozeman as safeties because I qualify for several major scholarships through them. The school I currently attend is technically part of the U of A campus and serves as a feeder school to their honors college. And given my stats/commitments/writing ability, I’m all but guaranteed to get a full ride to U of A through the Honors college. MSU Bozeman has a similar program with similar scholarship opportunities. And I forgot to mention it in my post, but my military parent transferred half of their GI bill to me, so that will definitely help w/ affordability if I am rejected from the Honors colleges. I should add another safety on to that list though.

My math and science teachers don’t know me near as well or as personally as the teachers I listed, and they do not like writing LORs. My math and science grades are very high though, 98s or above in all of them. Given that, do you think that I should still try to get one LOR from a STEM teacher of mine? Or is it better to play it safer but more one sided and related to my major?

You can list up to 15 QB schools now, but that’s just for the match. From what I understand, there’s little benefit to ranking schools for the match versus applying through QB RD. The schools I ranked come down mainly to financial aid packages, location, prestige, and just overall how comfortable I am being 100% committed to them by December. I still plan to apply to all of the schools listed in my post through QB RD, which should reap similar financial aid packages and benefits. I’m still going back and forth on it, but I don’t see myself ranking more than 10. If I do add colleges to that list, it’ll likely be Brown, Northwestern, Bowdoin, Swarthmore, and Pomona.

Japanese is definitely an interest of mine, but it is not my primary focus. A Japanese specific major/minor would be great! But at the end of the day, I definitely want to prioritize psychology. I might play off of the Japanese focus for some of the more selective colleges on my list though.

Many colleges do fill much of their class in ED (or EA; QB NCM is like a ranked ED), so that RD becomes more competitive simply because there are fewer spaces left. If you feel comfortable committing to more colleges in rank order, then it is likely to be favorable to rank them for QB NCM.

Also, if you do match, you get to find out early and be done with college applications.

However, you need to check on the cooperation of both parents for financial aid forms, or try to get decisions on the waivers early enough.

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I’m not a QB person - but typically the earlier is better.

If you have someone willing to spend $340K on you, take the 15 slots - and rank them - and get one.

That’s a TON of money - and you don’t want to risk it. At top schools now, more than 50% of classes are filled ED - so I suspect your odds would be less if you waited.


Will you have any GI Benefits? Some schools have Yellow Ribbon programs that do give a lot of funds to military kids.

I think that you are wrong. When the QB colleges are looking through the students to select for the match, they are only looking through those applicants who included their college on their list of 15.

Moreover, while you may be qualified for full support if you are accepted RD, you are definitely going have everything covered if you are matched.

There is absolutely zero downside to listing 15 colleges.

On other things. The best QB colleges for psychology are (no particular order):
Universities: Stanford, Yale, UPenn, UChicago, Columbia, MIT, Princeton, Brown, Northwestern, and Duke.
Liberal Arts Colleges: Amherst, Barnard, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, Pomona, Wellesley, CMC, Bowdoin, Williams, Vassar, Middlebury,

The rest of the QB colleges (except Caltech) also have top programs in psychology.

In short, choose the 15 QB college which you would be happiest to attend, and add them to your ranking. If you have to choose, rank college which are not full-need-met colleges.

To see if you are a strong contender - here are Questbridge’s criteria: QuestBridge | National College Match: Who Should Apply


Washington & Lee (VA) is also a QB partner and has a Japanese major/minor. There are study abroad opportunities and a Japanese tea room on campus.

Just adding to the list in case the OP wants to investigate further. The link below includes information on the program, including several endowments that provide assistance for East Asian study abroad for students with financial need.


Even if your math & science don’t know you as well as your humanities/social science teachers, it’s still important to include one. Get to know them better! Plus, you can give them a resume to help them write the LOR, too.

If your focus is primarily on psychology and neuroscience, these are two lists that you may want to take a look at:

That said, however, psychology is a bread & butter department for most colleges, and most schools will be pretty strong in it anyway. But if those are your key focus areas, I’d definitely pay a lot of attention to Vassar as it’s very well reputed in those fields (and has a Japanese major and is a QB partner).

I agree with the others on the importance of filling out a rank preference for all 15 QB slots.

With Montana State and Arkansas, are those scholarships you’re eligible for or are they guaranteed scholarships per a chart or the NPC or similar? You would likely be a strong competitor for a competitive full ride, but those scholarships are still hard to get and shouldn’t be counted if a school is in your safety bucket. If those scholarships are pretty much automatic, then it sounds like you’ve got two great options!

For the match yes, but QB RD is its own entity. QB RD are pooled in the RD round technically, but they are often considered within QB, with colleges taking a certain number of QB finalists through RD. Around twice as many finalists are accepted through RD than through the match. And if you are accepted through QB RD, you 9 times out of 10 will receive the same financial aid package they would have offered you had you matched with them. This info is coming from QB led CPS sessions. The downside to listing 15 colleges is that 1. you have to complete all of their supplements by Nov 1 and 2. you can’t control which you get selected to, and #15, while a great school, probably isn’t what you wanted out of the match. There are no 15 QB colleges that meet all of my desires in a college and that I feel 100% comfortable committing myself to, so I won’t. I think ranking more than 10 colleges, while it increases your chances of matching and being done with it all in December, has little benefit as compared to RD.

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But would #15 be your top remaining choice if #1 through #14 rejected you (as implied by matching #15)?


Point well taken.

No, because you can still apply to schools 1-14 through QB RD and receive similar benefits. You just find out in April instead of December. If you match with #15, you don’t have that opportunity

This is a good point. For the schools you are certain to be applying to, try to make headway on essays this summer so you minimize the impact during the Fall semester. Make sure to also get your safety school apps, including honors college supplements submitted before the Fall semester too.

Last year, about 38% of QB applicants were finalists (2021). You have to clear this hurdle before the rankings even come in to play…you will know around Oct 19th if you are a finalist (but you have to rank schools before then).

The majority of finalists have an EFC of zero, or very close to it. You said you think your EFC is $3K-$5K, but have you run this EFC estimator? If your parents are not legally separated and living apart, or divorced now, run this with both incomes/assets, (although it sounds like things might not change much post separation/divorce), plus any income/assets you have.

As OP stated, the downside is writing all the supplemental essays for these schools. It looks like the number of unmatched finalists accepted to QB schools in RD is closer to 1.25x matched finalist (not 2x as OP stated). We don’t have data as to how QB applicants who don’t become finalists (62% of applicants) fare in RD.

Here is the '21 QB data: