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My College Story: Stanford Student Jacob Tyler Randolph

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Jacob Randolph is a junior at Stanford University, majoring in Political Science and Communication. He is active in local, state, and federal politics, and is an external relations intern at Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Jacob is passionate about educating students about the value of higher education, and helping them find better prices for college—just like our mission here at Edmit! He also happens to be our newest intern.


We recently sat down with Jacob to learn a bit more about his college application and financial aid process.


Edmit: What was your college process like?


Jacob: I knew going into the process that I needed to attend a university that provided full financial aid, or something close to it, because college wasn’t something I or my family could afford. So I went in with that viewpoint and had to do my research and learned along the way.

Going into the process, I expected that I was going to end up at a state school - one of the UCs - because of the affordability question. However, I was connected with QuestBridge when my counselor happened to receive a pamphlet in the mail for it. I was the first person to apply from my high school. Little did I know that it would open up so many opportunities.


Edmit: How does the QuestBridge program work?


Jacob: QuestBridge is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect low-income and high-achieving students with top universities like Stanford. You apply as a high school senior to become a finalist in the program, and if you are accepted then QuestBridge supports you as you apply to their partner colleges – including help navigating through the large number of financial aid requirements.


Edmit: How did you compare colleges?


Jacob: I started to look at schools in California because I wanted to stay close to home. QuestBridge helped me a lot with the search; after I was accepted I looked at all of the partners from their site to see what schools would be a good fit for my interests and career goals. In particular, it was important for me to go somewhere that was humanities and social science-focused because of my desire to pursue a career in public service.


In terms of the cost, I really didn’t know what it would look like until I received the award letters - I was going on faith a little bit. And it was actually a shock when I received them. I was thinking that public schools would be much more affordable, but they weren’t anything compared to the financial aid packages I received at the private schools I applied to. That was definitely not something I was expecting.


Edmit: What do you wish high school students understood better about the college process?


Jacob: I am a QuestBridge ambassador now, so I visit high schools all over to tell them about the program and encourage students to not let their socioeconomic statuses define their future.


The biggest misconception high school students have is that private schools will end up being the most expensive. They see the $70K cost of attendance - and it’s scary. The sticker price discourages them and they don’t branch out to other schools outside of their comfort zone. Often you’ll hear people are only applying to their local public colleges or universities. I ultimately want to help people realize that lots of schools will offer generous aid. What I always say is, you have nothing to lose! Go ahead and fill out the forms, and see what they offer you. It’s better to have options than to shut the door of opportunity right at the beginning of the process.


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