Greencastle-Antrim senior receives full ride to University of Chicago

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Google "SAT score 1490 percentile" and the first thing that comes up is "Yes, a score of 1490 is awesome. It places you in the top 99th percentile nationally out of the 1.7 million test takers of the SAT entrance exam."

A score of 1490 out of 1600 on the College Board's standardized test, a record of Advanced Placement courses covering the academic spectrum and a lot of hard work have earned a Greencastle-Antrim High School student a full scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he plans to study history.

Adam Palmer is among the one-10th of over 16,500 applicants to receive a QuestBridge National College Match.

"It's still having trouble sinking in," Adam said, noting his parents won't have to pay for his education and he will graduate from college debt-free.

Greencastle-Antrim High School senior Adam Palmer plans to major in history at the University of Chicago, which he will attend through a QuestBridge National College Match scholarship.

The Match Scholarship is offered as part of a financial aid package provided by the university that covers the full cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses, according to a news release from QuestBridge.

"Being a QuestBridge finalist is impressive, and matching with a school is something we have never had here at Greencastle-Antrim," said Daniel Barrett, a school counselor.

"I am excited for Adam, but also know it is well-deserved," Barrett said, citing the 17-year-old's intelligence, maturity, selflessness, positivity and motivation.

In the classroom

"I like school. I don't feel as if I could be as good as I was at it if I didn't like it," said Adam who is modest about his accomplishments and has a quick sense of humor.

His list of AP classes includes math, calculus, science, social studies, U.S. government, psychology, computer sciences principles, AP literature and, his favorite, European history.

"I really like history," Adam said, adding his focus will probably be on "early modern history" from the 1600s to 2000.

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"We've seen massive change in the last 200 years," according to Adam, who likes getting immersed in the story part of history and its characters.

"Why this person did this thing," he explained.

He thinks he is more interested interested in European history, but hasn't delved into American history yet.

Adam, who eventually plans to be a history professor, joked he wants to earn a Ph.D. "so I can make people call me 'doctor' all the time."


When he took the SAT, Adam signed up with the College Board to share his information.

With a score in the top 1%, he got a lot of emails and the one from QuestBridge in March 2020 caught his eye.

"I went on the website and I saw an opportunity," Adam said.

"QuestBridge is a national nonprofit that connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading institutions of higher education and further life opportunities," according to the news release.

Recipients have an average unweighted GPA of 3.93 and 92% are in the top 10% of their graduating class.

"By recruiting, developing, and motivating these students — beginning in high school through college to their early career — QuestBridge aims to help talented, low-income students attend the nation’s best colleges and to support them to achieve success in their respective careers and communities," according to the news release.

"The whole time I was thinking I'm not going to get it, but I might as well try," Adam said.

Out of 6,312 finalists, he is among the 1,674 to be matched with one of QuestBridge's 45 college partners.

Once he was selected as a finalist, Adam had to rank his top 10 colleges and do "a lot of writing," including 10 college essays.

He called doing the tax returns and filling out financial aid forms for 10 schools "a painful process."

"He's really self-motivated, on top of everything," said Caroline Cuetara, his college adviser. "He knew what his goal was and went for it."

Everything was due Nov. 1 and "the month of November felt like 10 years." On Dec. 1, Adam learned he had matched with the University of Chicago.

"I'm very happy. I'm happy with the school," he said.

"I'm happy with the shirt," joked Adam, who wore a maroon, long-sleeved University of Chicago T-shirt. He noted his mother bought shirts and magnets within half an hour of learning about his match.

"It's a pretty good school with a 7% acceptance rate," Adam said.

He is attracted to the selection and rigor of the courses, activities, culture on campus and urban setting of the private university, which has about 7,000 students.


Adam is the son of Greg and Mary Palmer. He moved from Philadelphia to Greencastle with his family between middle school and high school. His oldest brother, Ryan, is an engineer and middle brother, Sean, is studying math at Shippensburg University.

While there was a difference between the urban and rural settings, "People are people wherever you go," Adam said.

It didn't take him long to settle into Greencastle-Antrim High School, where he is a member of Peer Leaders, astronomy club and National Honor Society.

He's a member of the G-AHS drama club that's been kept waiting in the wings for two years due to COVID-19 and is looking forward to actually having a production this spring.

Adam also tutors a ninth-grader in all subjects, especially science, during study hall. School counselors set up the program for seniors to help freshmen who might be struggling.

"Adam is constantly seeking ways to build relationship and help make his environment a positive one," Barrett said. "From being part of Peer Leaders for the past three years and continue to help create events that focus on positive choices and meaningful relationships to serving as a mentor in our ninth-grade transition study hall, Adam continues to seek ways to make people around him better."

All of his unique qualities "have prepared Adam for the success that lies ahead," Barrett said.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at