Pros and Cons of Questbridge?

I am a senior filling out my Questbridge application with several questions about this SEEMINGLY amazing program. (Please note that I am not yet a finalist, just someone who’s trying to get more information about Questbridge)

I’ve done some digging on Questbridge and have found several forums where members actually warned against going with College Match for finalists; instead, many seemed to recommend using the Questbridge Finalist status on the Common App as an award instead and applying via SCEA/ED to a top 15 college. Does anyone know the caveats of this strategy?

For some background, I am a lower-middle class (EFC: $0) Asian Male with mediocre test scores. (1520 SS SAT, 33 ACT, and have not taken SAT 2s but have done practice tests and gotten 760+ on Math 2 and 700+ on Bio without studying) My GPA is 4.0 unweighted and I was ranked #1 in my class of 380ish last year, however, my school is definitely not a prestigious High school of any kind (58% minority, 42% government assistance). These are definitely aspects I want to highlight on my College Apps but was just wondering if I would have a better chance going through Match (IF a Finalist), or using the common app earlier with a Finalist Status?

My daughter was a finalist last year who didn’t match, but was accepted to a partner school ED1 and attends there now.

Based on her experience and what she gleaned from her fellow finalists last year, the only people who seemed to regret going through the match were those who (1) weren’t matched and (2) didn’t think they put forth their best application with questbridge. Since the questbridge app is due so early and some people fairly rushed through it, they wished they had a chance at revision or a do-over app. That said, outside of the match you only get one shot at ED or SCEA. Within the match you get the chance to apply early to many schools- and then still hit ED (or ED 1 and 2) if you’re not matched.

My daughter only ranked two schools, and we kinda knew she wouldn’t match because we have an EFC over zero, and there are schools with unofficial policies of only matching kids with an EFC of zero. We decided to trust the process though. Her questbridge app was rolled from the match round to ED1 with a single email and she was accepted just a week after not matching.

The difference in FA from the match scholarship was $5,000 a year (parent contribution, work study, summer work)- that could be covered by the federal loan (it’s within the limits) if needed since loans weren’t included in her aid. She’s lucky enough to have an outside scholarship, but it would have been doable on just federal loans if need be.

I don’t see cons to the program IF you understand it and your chances, carefully choose your ranked schools, apply early to an academic/financial safety (my daughter had a few acceptances with scholarships before she even submitted her quest app), and have a plan for each step of the process.

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Do you understand how QB match works? The drawbacks are obvious. Look at the % of kids matched. Its lower than the ED and SCEA accept rates. Simple as that.

If you get finalist status, THe chances of a match are greater, but you have to understand that many of the finalists rank up to 12 schools. Your chances of a match diminish greatly if you only list, say one school for a match, which is what you’d be doing with SCEA or ED. There is insufficient data out there to come up with the chances for a QB finalist getting matched to , say, Princeton, or any of the other
Single digit accept rate schools if only one is chosen, as opposed to just applying early. Also if you have Harvard, Cornell or another non QB school as a top choice , you wipe out the early option to those schools.

IMO, you have a better chance through QB than most applicants, if you have a Zero EFC and if you don’t have NCP financials upping your financial need picture. I don’t know a single Matched kid without a zero EFC. In your situation, I’d go through QB.

Some unmatched kids feel that they would have done better had they applied ED. If you are set on Princeton as your true ED choice but you throw in 11 other schools, and get Haverford as your match, I can see someone thinking, “What if?” What if I’d just applied to Princeton SCEA or just listed Princeton as my only choice for match? If matched to any school other than Princeton, MIT, Stanford or Yale, you have to take that match under the terms of QB. Of course, you can just ask to be matched to those 4 schools that permit you to be released from the Match and try applying on your own, but you lose early application advantages in doing so.

There isn’t enough info to weight the percentages, but my feeling is that you, especially you, will have better chances through QB, IF you get to Finalist status. Schools that run out ofvQB funds and spots are permitted to invite you to apply privately after Match anyways, and I’ve seen that happen which is an occurrence not statistically reported

The biggest problem I see with QB is that it doesn’t emphasize the truly tiny percentage of applicants who are Matched. Kids get really disappointed and come upbwithball sorts of reasons and rationales as to why it did not happen, and one reason floating around is that one’s chances are smaller getting into a school through QB than on one’s own.

@cptofthehouse thank you for the in depth analysis of QB. So would you say that IF I was a finalist and IF I ranked only the 4 schools that have no binding agreements, that I would have a better chance? (In my case)

Pro: the detailed app adcoms see. Con: your effort to produce the detailed app adcoms see.

Even with QB, you need to ensure you’re a compelling candidate for your targets, that you’re looking at the right colleges for you and your record, what they want to see. Not just what you want.

You are still giving up the opportunity to apply ED or EA to other schools by applying to those 4 non binding QB schools. If you go to the QB FAQs, this is directly addressed. But you would be permitted to apply to, say Harvard RD or Cornell or other school RD, and drop the QB match without breaking the terms of agreement of the QB program, IF your match is one of the 4 schools mentioned above.

Any rolling admission type school like state schools are permitted as well.

I have no statistical evidence, but I get the a strong feeling that anyone’s chances of getting into these schools is stronger through QB. Even if you are not matched, sometimes a school will contact you and invite you to apply to them ( ED is what I’ve seen, no idea how else) , for a sure admit. Schools allocate so many spots for QB mAtch, and some will reach out to those who don’t get one of those rare spots, and offer them a regular spot subject to their own financial aid process. So you get the chance of a Match through QB in addition to extra consideration from some of these schools who ran out of match spots but are interested. You can also apply RD if you don’t get a match with Finalist status.

You are suggesting skipping right over to Finalist status (if you get there) without a Match by not submitting any school for a match and applying early independently? You want to use QB as a feather in your EC cap without going thorough all of the process?

Here is the problem with this—it’s not a big deal to skip over the match when you have another school in mind. That school is usually Harvard. Harvard dies not care if you are a QB Finalist. They declined to join QB because they use their own system. You also risk that someone misunderstands what you did, because kids do mess up in these rules each year, and you get dinged on it. I have to stop and think a moment on certain statuses with QB and the rules , especially any changes , because I’m not involved directly, so I don’t keep apprised. So it is with others. I bring this up because I actually know a couple of kids who did something off the beaten track with QB, and it did cause misunderstandings.

What QB does, is give a minuscule chance at a near full ride at 40 select schools through an enhanced process. It gives you exposure to those schools so that even if you do not get a Match, they may invite you to apply. It also gives a chance to apply RD to those schools that respect and invest in QB. What is not clear is how do those schools who have deliberately declined to join in this venture look at the QB leftovers which are all they ever see on a RD application? Do they give these Applicants a leg up? Do they just ignore the status as they have their own methodology to pick out those challenged applicants that interest them? I don’t think it hurts on a RD basis , but when you get into EArly applicants and the students are a Finalist, something isn’t right because that’s not a category one sees.

@milgymfam that’s great that your daughter got to one of the schools she wanted!

Could you explain how your daughter was forwarded towards ED1? Don’t ED/EA decisions come out just a mere two weeks after match day? Are all schools willing to do that? Or just some schools?

A number of the schools allow match applicants to roll their applications into ED following the match round. Each college lists whether or not they allow this on their individual questbridge institution pages. Her school has a general ED1 app deadline of November 15th, but non matched finalists who ranked the school had five days (December 1-6) to email the intent to be included in the ED1 pool. There is no additional paperwork required and my D got her acceptance on Dec 15.

@milgymfam that is great! Did it mention in her email that she could do this? Or did you guys find this out by yourself? This seems very useful to know.

We already knew and she sent the email request not five minutes after the match results came out. She was emailed by her second ranked school asking her to ED as well, but she had already emailed the first and that one was always her clear favorite anyway. I feel like the majority of her unmatched cohort were invited to apply ED to at least one school.

This is an old post but in case anyone looks for this information. Questbridge will send the app you submitted to them to all the schools you ranked if they don’t match you. This is not great if you feel like a) your Questbridge app is not as strong as you’d like 2) you want to tailor your apps to the colleges in terms and take advantage of their specific essay questions, which is something you now can do on common app since they allow unlimited edits. I’ve seen this be a nightmare for kids who weren’t expecting it.