Jamal Succeeds in Quest for a Full Ride With Questbridge


Tanzila Jamal has been accepted to Claremont McKenna College through the Questbridge National College Match

Samantha Booher, Reporter

Navigating the college application process is challenging for most students, and students who need financial assistance have even more to figure out. Many students benefit from programs that focus on helping those with financial aid needs find the right college, such as Questbridge National College Match. You can read more about the program and past Chamblee alumni who received the scholarships here.

Questbridge is a non-profit organization that can give two- or four-year scholarships to students who have faced financial hardship.

Chamblee senior Tanzila Jamal (‘22) was honored to receive a match with Claremont McKenna College, a private liberal arts school.

“I received a four, full-year scholarship […] that covers room and board and tuition costs at Claremont McKenna College in California,” said Jamal. “I spoke with representatives from there and I’m going to be majoring in political science, probably minoring in psychology or biology. I haven’t really decided [what I want to be yet], but [I’m] probably becoming a lawyer.”

Questbridge is partnered with some of the country’s top colleges to offer full-rides to students. When applying, students rank up to 12 schools that interest them and essentially apply to all of them through the program.

After hearing about Questbridge through counselors, teachers, and even posters on school walls, Jamal began working toward the scholarship during her junior year by joining College Prep Scholars. Historically, students who participate in College Prep Scholars are more likely to be chosen for the National College Match.

“Prior to the National College Match, they have this thing called College Prep Scholars, and it’s a program for juniors. Basically, it’s for students who are low income and have high academic achievement, and they can receive a College Prep Scholar that will prepare them better for the National College Match,” said Jamal.

In addition to scholarships, College Prep Scholars offers additional summer programs that allow young scholars to apply to visit college planning programs and select colleges like Yale and Stanford during the summer.

One benefit of the National College Match program is that they track and organize scholarship opportunities based on the student’s needs, interests, and location.

“You also have a chance to get $1,000 scholarships. There’s various scholarships for that. A lot of people get them. There’s a USA award, which [is given to] one person from each state, so 50 people get that,” said Jamal. “There’s the Fine Fellows award, arts and humanities, […] a STEM award […] and you get $1,000 put towards your separate scholarships.”

National College Match highly considers the resources students were provided to them and their motivation during their evaluations.

“I think it really recognizes students who don’t have access to many [resources.] We have to work twice as hard to go to top universities. I think Questbridge recognizes the students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to have an opportunity to actually have a chance at these top universities,” said Jamal.

Multiple factors unrelated to joining College Prep Scholars go into the school match process.

“Try to keep your grades up, obviously, and form connections with their teachers for a good teacher recommendation, because it does happen earlier than the Common App. So you have to fill out everything quicker,” said Jamal. “I think the actual application is due by the end of September, whereas most college apps are due for regular decision in January.”

A key factor for applying through Questbridge is the application essays.

“There’s the biographical essay and you have to write what in your life has contributed to your academic success. It’s just talking about how you grew up and how I’m taking care of my education, prioritizing it,” said Jamal. “If there’s a correlation between your low economic background and high academic standing, then that puts you at a higher chance of getting matched to a school.”

Through a Facebook group, Jamal was able to connect with other older students who went through the same process she did.

“I met people who are one year older than us who were kind of able to guide me, […] read my essays, and help me proofread and tell me [how to] strengthen my application,” said Jamal.

Jamal described finding a sense of community through the program.

“You meet other low-income students who have very interesting stories, like their backgrounds and where they come from. You’re able to form connections with people from all races and all sorts of [situations],” said Jamal.