Alissa S.'s Story

"Growing up, [my parents] always supported me as best as they could and I knew that attending, and graduating from, a top college would make them extremely proud.”

For Alissa Selover, community provides energy. Born and raised in Colusa, California, Alissa always knew that she wanted to attend college, but was concerned about the financial pressures on her parents. “I didn’t think that the larger private schools were in my future,” Alissa shared. 

Nevertheless, a conversation with a high school counselor convinced Alissa to apply for the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program in her junior year, to which she was accepted. Alissa went on to attend the National College Admissions Conference at Stanford University: “After attending the conference at Stanford, I knew that I wanted to apply for the National College Match,” said Alissa. 

When the time came to begin her application, Alissa was strengthened by the support of her loved ones. “My parents are my primary source of motivation,” Alissa explained. “Growing up, they always supported me as best as they could and I knew that attending, and graduating from, a top college would make them extremely proud.”

Still, even with the encouragement from her family, Alissa faced challenges as she worked on her application: “I suffered from severe imposter syndrome. I felt like every other student applying was much more accomplished than me or much more prepared to approach the application process in general, which was an intimidating factor to consider,” Alissa admitted. “I didn’t have any knowledge about how to apply to college and went to a high school that didn’t provide me with adequate resources for navigating this process. Overcoming this wasn’t easy, but I joined the Facebook group for my College Prep Scholars class, utilized the mentorship program provided to College Prep Scholars, and leaned on the friends that I had made through the program to support me, assist me, and make me feel like I wasn’t completely lost.” 

With that strength of community, Alissa submitted her National College Match application and waited for Match Day. When that day arrived and Alissa discovered she had matched to Princeton University, she shared that, “I cried and called my mom immediately. It felt like a million pounds had been lifted from my shoulders and I knew that I had a place to call home for the next four years.” While Alissa once did not believe attending a school like Princeton could be possible, “QuestBridge changed that for me and helped me understand that anything can be achieved with the proper support,” Alissa explained.

Once on campus at Princeton, Alissa decided to major in Politics and quickly joined a number of different groups including the Princeton QuestBridge Scholars Network Chapter, the Daily Princetonian, the Cloister Inn Eating Club, and Princeton Campus Recreation.

When asked about the most important lessons learned at Princeton, Alissa said that, “I learned so much about myself during my time at Princeton. I learned that I need sleep to function and caffeine only goes so far, but I also learned more about the situations that I thrive in and the ones that cause me to shut down. I learned my own best practices for self-care and time management, but I also learned to allocate my time and energy into things that make me happy.”

Despite the transition to online learning as a result of the pandemic, Alissa successfully graduated with the class of 2021: “After a year and a half of virtual learning and not having the same experiences as before, it was such a wonderful feeling to be in person for a graduation ceremony with my closest friends, many of whom I didn’t see during the year and a half that we were virtual learning. While it was a sad moment to be parting ways, it is still one of my favorite days to look back on.”

Following graduation, Alissa went on to Vanderbilt University Law School. Thanks to her experiences at Princeton, she felt well-equipped to take on this new challenge. “College has really prepared me for this in so many ways,” Alissa explained. “It prepared me academically for law school, helped me get into law school, and I now have an entire network of people to lean on for support as a law student.”

Offering advice to future students, Alissa again highlighted community as strength: “If I had to name the most important lesson, it would be to lean on those that will support you during your struggles and celebrate your good moments with those people. The individuals you surround yourself with are crucial to your success and lifting you up during hardships.”