The Quest to be a Finalist: National College Match Participant Shares Her Success Story

We have a Questbridge National College Match finalist in our midst! Senior Maame Darkwah has been selected as a finalist for this renowned program dedicated to making college accessible for all high-achieving students regardless of their socioeconomic or racial backgrounds. 

Questbridge is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving minority, first-generation and low-income students access to academic and college-related resources and opportunities. Questbridge’s flagship program is its National College Match service, which offers more than 1000 of its finalists a four-year full ride to one of its 42 partner schools. 

Darkwah began her Questbridge journey her junior year of high school after receiving an email from the non-profit. The email encouraged Darkwah to apply to the Questbridge College Prep Scholars Program, which provides opportunities, scholarships and academic resources to its fellows. Curious, Darkwah decided to research Questbridge, applied to the program and was later accepted. Questbridge’s College Prep Scholars also serves as a stepping stone to the National College Match: 75% of prep scholars become finalists for the college match service. 

Darkwah explained that Questbridge does a phenomenal job of acknowledging that low-income, first generation and minority students are capable of achieving greatness and performing at a high level not in spite of their minority statuses but because they are hardworking and dedicated to thriving amidst adversity; finalists through Questbridge are not simply being rewarded for being disadvantaged or a minority. She says, “I feel like [Questbridge] forces us to not use our adversity [in combination] with…minority traits to get somewhere.” 

Darkwah realized this because of her favorite part of her Questbridge journey: answering the essay prompts. Darkwah says in writing her essays, she was forced to step out of herself and view her life, character and accomplishments through a third person perspective. Through this point of view, she felt she was better able to acknowledge and appreciate all she had accomplished over her lifetime as a secondary school student, not just as a disadvantaged minority. 

However, not every part of the process rendered such positive feelings for Darkwah. Her least favorite part of her journey was feeling the pressure from competing against other high achieving students. “There are always those subtle flexers who make you feel like your achievements are below theirs,” Darkwah says. This being said, Darkwah knows the competition was ultimately beneficial because she knows she will have to apply and compete for competitive positions in the future.

To her delight, Darkwah received her email telling her she was a finalist Oct. 21 and felt as though her hard work had paid off. Throughout her application process, Darkwah sought the help of teachers and fellow Questbridge peers from the College Prep Scholars Program. Darkwah recommends Questbridge to low-income, minority and first-generation juniors and seniors. “It’s a reminder that you aren’t alone,” she says. “There are a lot of people like you with similar scenarios [who achieve success].” She also states that while the program is geared towards those aforementioned groups of students, you do not necessarily need to be low-income, minority or first-generation to be a Questbridge competitor. 

Being a finalist, however, does not mean that Darkwah has been matched to a partner university yet; that decision comes in a few weeks’ time. Darkwah hopes she will be matched with the University of Pennsylvania, and the reason she likes that school in particular is a little more unconventional. Darkwah says, “I enjoy that it’s in the city and I could access daily food things that I love like Starbucks, Chipotle, Subway and also regular stores.” Darkwah is interested in studying Environmental Sciences. Sadly, due to COVID-19, Darkwah wasn’t able to tour the campus. She relied on YouTube and other online research to get a feel for the school. 

If Darkwah is not matched to a university, she is able to apply to schools by their regular decision deadlines through Questbridge, and is eligible to receive scholarships and waived application fees. Darkwah encourages interested students to check the Questbridge website or ask her questions through Instagram at: @maamxakua. On behalf of the Blake Beat, we wish Darkwah and her fellow finalists good luck throughout the application season!

Update: Since this article was written, Darkwah found out she was not matched to the University of Pennsylvania. However, she was contacted by one of the other schools she indicated interest in: Washington University in St. Louis. She will find out about the status of her admission Tuesday, Dec. 15. She says, “I wasn’t as upset about not matching as I thought [I would be] because I realized it wasn’t a rejection and a lot more goes into it than my merit.”

Update: Darkwah has been accepted to Washington University in St. Louis!