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Senior Twins Named First Questbridge Finalists in School History

Courtesy of Allison Jo and Ashley Jo
While Allison Jo and Ashley Jo share a close bond, the twins took precautions to ensure their applications were personal to them. “If we were going to ask [each other] questions, they would just be really broad ones,” Ashley Jo said. “I think the only information that we actually shared with each other was financial stuff, because obviously, our financials are going to be the same.”

Seniors Allison Jo and Ashley Jo were named Questbridge National College Match Finalists, becoming the first students in school history to be awarded this distinction. Finalists receive a full-ride scholarship to whichever four-year college or university they are matched to, which requires that the school admit the finalist and the finalist has the college listed in their rankings.

“The exciting thing about Allison and Ashley is that they’re both finalists,” counselor Nicole Epres said. “I personally haven’t had a student who has been a finalist in my years here at Portola, so I’m excited to see or hear about what the next steps are for both of my students.”

Aspiring finalists submitted a comprehensive application by Sept. 28, including an 800-word personal statement, a 500-word topical essay and a statement about their unique perspective shaped by their financial situation. Applicants learned of their status on Oct. 19.

“It was actually during English class that I got the email that I can check my status, so I opened the email in the middle of class,” Ashley Jo said. “My sister sits right next to me, so I shook her, and I was like, ‘I got accepted! I got accepted!’” 

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After submitting their applications, students rank their colleges of choice from a list of 45 partner schools. 

“For me, I didn’t come into the process knowing what my dream school was,” Allison Jo said. “I have a very specific major that I want to go into, and there are actually only four colleges that align with that major.”

Allison Jo and Ashley Jo also joined the 2021 class of College Prep Scholars earlier this year, another Questbridge-sponsored program that offers additional support for students who excel academically through mentorship from Questbridge alumni. College Prep scholars are historically five times more likely than other applicants to receive scholarships through the National College Match, according to the Questbridge website.

“After we got admitted into the program, Questbridge was really nice in setting up Zoom meetings and deadlines for all these other assignments,” Ashley Jo said. “So just keeping up with that helped us be on track for the National Match application.” 

After submitting college-specific supplemental essays by Nov. 1, finalists can find out their College Match status on Dec. 1. Finalists who are accepted to a college on their ranked list are considered “matched” to that school — the high-ranked college that is willing to accept them with a four-year scholarship — and are obligated to attend.

I wrote about a lot of hardships that we endured, obviously with the pandemic and my identity as a low income student and also a twin.

— Allison Jo

“I wrote about a lot of hardships that we endured, obviously with the pandemic and my identity as a low income student and also a twin,” Allison Jo said. “I feel like that showed the admissions officers that I would succeed if I got accepted to colleges.”

This story was originally published on Portola Pilot on November 2, 2021.