Researching Colleges

Not sure what colleges to apply to? Let QuestBridge guide you through researching colleges with important tips, resources, and more!

It’s never too early to start researching colleges that interest you. As a talented student from a low-income background, you may have more options than you realize. Researching your options can be very exciting, but daunting. Where do you begin? Which schools should you consider? What’s important to you?

Ranking QuestBridge college partners

If you want to be admitted early to a QuestBridge college partner with a guaranteed full-four year scholarship, you must research and rank colleges. Explore our webpage dedicated to ranking to watch an overview video, download a research worksheet, and learn what “matching” to a college partner means. Researching and ranking colleges is an important part of your pathway to a top college, so begin now!

Different types of college fit 

Regardless of where you want to apply, it’s important to think critically about which college will provide you with tools to succeed. Besides looking at the strength of a college’s financial aid, you should also consider what kind of lifestyle is important to you. Choosing a college that facilitates your personal happiness will greatly enhance your undergraduate years. 

When researching, what kind of questions can you ask yourself, current college students, or admissions officers to determine if a college might be a good fit for you? Read through the questions below or download our College Fit and Goals Reflection Worksheet for a more detailed look at different factors to consider.

Whether or not you’ve decided what to study, it’s important to attend a college that suits your general range of potential interests, your personality, and even your relative academic strength. 

  • What programs fit my current and/or potential academic and career interests? 

  • Will I thrive under the school’s teaching style, calendar structure, and faculty? 

  • Am I comfortable with the school size? How many students are in an average class?

The social scene on college campuses can vary widely. If you aren’t able to visit the campus in person, use admissions websites, student blogs, and talk to real students to get a sense of the campus personality. 

  • Does the campus have a diverse community that I will be comfortable in? What does diversity mean to me?

  • Are there non-academic opportunities that interest me? What are students doing outside the classroom? 

  • What values does the college uphold? Are there any fun campus traditions that I can take part in?

One of the most exciting parts of the college search is the opportunity to think about where you want to live for the next four years. 

  • Does the location appeal to me? Is the campus in a city, a small college town, or something in between?

  • How close or far do I want to be from home, and how often can I visit? 

  • What about other aspects like weather, seasons, or culture? What will impact my experience? 

The affordability factor

100% of demonstrated financial need 

One of the biggest concerns for low-income students is financial aid. How can you determine which colleges will support you financially for four years and which ones will not? All QuestBridge college partners have financial aid policies among the best in the country; they guarantee to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need. 

For more information on paying for college, please see our Financial Aid Overview page. You can also fill out a net price calculator for each of our college partners to see an estimate of your financial aid package if you were to be admitted.


Non-QuestBridge colleges

If you are participating in QuestBridge Regular Decision, you should also plan to apply to a range of target and likely non-QuestBridge colleges where you are confident you can be admitted. For these schools, ask the following questions:

  • Does the college guarantee to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need?

  • Does the college practice “need-blind” admissions?

  • Will financial aid stay the same for all four years?