Denison recently became one of the newest members of Questbridge, a national non-profit organization dedicated to connecting exceptional low-income students with top colleges. Questbridge has been around since 1994, and has developed a track record of amazing success in reaching students who historically have difficulty seeing themselves at top colleges, in spite of the fact that they are clearly capable of succeeding in a rigorous college environment.
Our partnership got me thinking recently about imposter syndrome. In our selection process, the first bar any admitted student needs to climb is the ability to be successful in the classroom. We won’t admit a student if we don’t believe that they can hack it here – it wouldn’t serve us, but it certainly wouldn’t be a service to that student either. Everyone who is here at Denison has proven that they are fully capable of doing the work.
Unfortunately for many, particularly students from low-income and under-represented backgrounds, capability does not always result in confidence. When we tell students they were selected from an applicant pool of almost ten thousand, it isn’t to brag. It’s to help instill that confidence in all of our students, to tell them that we, the experts, know that they can succeed here.
In fact, not only can they do the work, we think they can contribute in huge ways outside of the classroom as well. They bring their identities, cultures, curiosity, and passions with them and make this place richer.
That’s why we’re so excited about our partnership with Questbridge, because they share that mission with us – not just to enroll and graduate students from low-income backgrounds, but to instill in them the confidence that they can and will do great things here – not to mention, make our “Home on The Hill” better with their presence.