Quincy Bailey and his mother

Quincy Bailey

Collegiate Scholars Program

Quincy Bailey is ready for Stanford. The Chatham resident and Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep senior will be the first in his family to attend college but after participating in the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars college readiness program he says a school like Stanford, where he’ll enroll this fall on a full scholarship, doesn’t feel as intimidating.

“Being on a college campus and being exposed to that, being able to roam around Hyde Park and get the experience of a college and how college is—especially at a rigorous college like University of Chicago—and being able to work with professors there was just amazing for me,” Bailey said. “I took a lot of AP courses in high school, but Collegiate Scholars definitely showed me that in a college setting, I’m also able to thrive.”

Established in 2003 after the UChicago Consortium on School Research found that highly qualified Chicago Public School high school students were underreaching in their college applications, CSP is a three-year enrichment program that prepares talented students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds like Bailey for admission and success at highly selective colleges.

Bailey was motivated to apply for Collegiate Scholars after speaking with one of his teachers, who had taken part in the program during his own high school years. The program offered a challenge beyond the typical high school courses that appealed to Bailey. Though about half of his Collegiate Scholars experience was virtual in the wake of the pandemic’s peak, Bailey soaked up the opportunity to take classes on UChicago’s campus last summer and engage with fellow high schoolers from across the city in the process.

“I loved meeting friends and hearing the different perspectives that they have coming from different high schools and different neighborhoods. Just hearing the different conversations and about the different upbringings brings more into the classroom environment. It sort of changes the way you think about certain things and makes you want to talk about certain topics that aren’t really talked about when you’re only exposed to people in your community,” Bailey said. 

Race and Gender was Bailey’s favorite class, he says, thanks in large part to the mix of insightful voices in the room. “They thought outside the box,” he said, “which sort of forced me outside my comfort zone to think outside the box as well.”

When it came time to navigate the complexities of college applications, Bailey says working with the Collegiate Scholars team gave him a solid foundation of support. Connecting with admissions officers at various universities through the program, identifying strengths, workshopping personal essays, and, perhaps most importantly, building up confidence all helped Bailey prepare for, apply to, and ultimately secure a spot at a highly selective university.

“I feel like Collegiate Scholars is vital for underrepresented students. It gives many of these students a chance to understand that hey, you can go to a great college, and you can succeed at this great college as well,” he said. 

At Stanford, Bailey plans to study political science on a pre-law track, though he’s interested in economics and English or African American Studies as well. He knows he’ll be encouraged to dabble in each, he says, because the community there, much like the community he built through Collegiate Scholars, wants students to engage with a wide array of subjects and succeed.

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