Questbridge Essay Topics

QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship Essay Sample

We are interested in learning more about you and the context in which you have grown up, formed your aspirations and accomplished your academic successes. Please describe the factors and challenges that have most shaped your personal life and aspirations. How have these factors caused you to grow?

QuestBridge Influence Essay

A sea of smiling and eager faces awaited before me as I stood on the stage, waiting for the final word - eruption. I grinned as I imagined myself sitting on my dad's lap in the living room of our one bedroom apartment as a video of volcanoes played from a rented library cassette. Occasionally I would question him on unfamiliar terms or why things worked how they did and as he braided my hair, he explained the functions of a volcano and its effects on the earth. At the end of the final letter, I saw the judge smile at me and announce the new 5th grade Spelling Bee Champion. I looked out at the crowd and noticed two missing smiles, my mother's and my father's.

Growing up, there were numerous absences by my parent's, but there was never an absence of love. With one car and my dad working days and nights and my mom working days to support the family, I understood that I wouldn't have the same experiences as other children. When I left Nepal at two, we had to sacrifice some cultural ties. My mother left the family she was expected to care for and my father left his duties as the eldest son so that we could come to America and have the chance for better opportunities. After my father got his Master's degree in Belgium while we stayed in a crowded apartment with my uncle and his family, we obtained travel Visas and moved to America so he could continue his education and where we once again had to share a one bedroom apartment with four adults, two kids, and a baby. We knew our hardships now would be worth the trouble, but that was not the case. As time went on, it became harder for my dad to handle school and keep a job. With my mom working in a humid Laundromat with minimum English, my dad quit school so that our family had enough money to sustain ourselves.

As I continued to go to school, we eventually moved into a two bedroom apartment for ourselves; however, the location was not what most consider ideal. Living near the Detroit area influenced me on a cultural and mental level. I can still remember all the news about violence and a particular one of a man committing suicide just a floor above us. At the time, I didn't know what his reason was but I knew that it was because of unhappiness. Being a child, I couldn't imagine living a truly unhappy life even through all the hardships I endured and it opened my eyes to the realities of the world and what people face on a daily basis. As the violence and poverty around us continued, my parents refused to let us go out other than for school. There was an instance in which my older brother and I were in the elevator along with two men coming home from elementary school and I can still vividly hear them call us derogatory names as we just had to stand and listen. While that moment certainly seems negative, it has impacted me in a positive way. It made me realize that I am indeed different from other people but it shouldn't be something to be ashamed of. I learned that there are people who will hurt me but there are many more who will make up for it.

What may seem as misfortunes for my family, I view as inspirations to strive in my education. Even religiously, I have viewed books as important since stepping on one is considered a horrible sin. I know that my education has put my parents in a bind of wanting to stay here for me and wanting to go back to Nepal. Unable to attend their own parents' funerals, I witnessed them argue more about money every day, which is what pushes me for success. I know there are many families in Nepal who believe our efforts were to no avail, but I know that I can prove them wrong and serve as a role model for children, especially girls who are not expected to attend college, that no matter what the circumstances, a higher education is not out of reach and that sometimes, sacrifices are needed for a greater good. While I certainly did not experience the best childhood, it has been a journey that's enabled me to grow into the positive and understanding person I am today and I hope to continue that journey myself and help other children on their own. I hope to invest in the future of other children's educations as my family, teachers, friends, and hopefully you will in mine!

Original Source: Essay Forum

Disclaimer: These essays are provided to assist writing, not to be copied

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This is a college essay submitted by a student who now attends Northwestern University. This student is a Quest Scholar at Northwestern. The student was awarded with a full-ride scholarship. As you read this Quest Scholarship college essay example, think about your own personal experiences and what you could write about if you are eligible for the scholarship. You can learn more about the Quest Scholarship here.

This is a solid personal essay for several reasons:

  1. The opening paragraph frames the story and presents to the reader a frustrating situation with his younger brother that leads the reader into the second paragraph with an anticipated even more acutely personal insight into this student’s life. A potentially stronger opening would have been starting with his mother’s condition and remaining focused with the main topic as this opening paragraph is a bit of a tangent in the grand scheme of things.
  2. The second paragraph demonstrates the reader’s understanding of his mother’s condition. It paints a vivid picture with the reader of the condition, demonstrating to an admissions counselor that not only has this student had to overcome extenuating circumstances, but also that he fully understands the nature of his mother’s condition.
  3. The third paragraph digs deep as the student reflects on what he has learned from watching his mother suffer the effects of MS through the years. He closes the paragraph strongly with a takeaway of what he has learned to value the most from watching his mother endure her MS condition through the years.
  4. Finally, the student concludes by wrapping the essay together nicely. The reader finishes reading the essay with a comprehensive understanding of the student’s life experience, how he has learned from this experience, and a bigger picture understanding of the human condition. This is vital. Strong admissions essays often have a message that provide admissions officers with insights of the student’s understanding of the human condition. These essays are often acutely personal and feature an overall theme—in this case, hardship and how the student came to terms with it.

Throughout my life I have encountered many circumstances that have shaped me into the person I am today. I started life in a small house outside of Mackinaw, Illinois. I lived in that house for eleven years, and while I was there I became the oldest of four children. That in itself has been an experience, teaching me a lot about being an example and impacting my views on responsibility. I have a brother who, quite frankly, is the worst behaved kid I know. He lies, steals, and misbehaves compulsively. Academically he is not much better. He was held back in first grade due to a refusal to do homework, and has barely scraped by ever since, consistently getting D’s and F’s. Miraculously, he is now in eighth grade, but he still is not doing much better academically or behaviorally. He is actually very smart; he just refuses to do work which is why he fails. At home he fights with my younger brother and sister and pushes my patience to its limits constantly. Through it all there is a silver lining. He has taught me tolerance and patience. I have learned to deal with other people and annoyances through my experiences with Brock, and find that I am generally harder to anger than others. The lessons in patience that I have learned from Brock have helped me a lot in working with others, and have contributed greatly to my successes in academics, but no single person or experience has impacted my outlook on life as much as my Mom.

Right around my tenth year, when my parents started looking into building a house in the country so my dad could have a shed to work on tractors in, my mom started having problems with her vision. It was often blurry, and she frequently suffered bouts of double vision. She went to several doctors, and numerous specialists, seeking a diagnosis. Eventually one came. Multiple Sclerosis. Abbreviated as MS, multiple sclerosis is ravaging disease affecting the nervous system. MS is caused when the myelin sheaths of nerve axons in the brain and spinal cord are damaged, causing scar tissue to form. The scar tissue hinders neural impulses, thus interfering with commands sent from the brain to motor nerves throughout the body. Eventually, problems with movement and balance develop. The progression of the disease is different for each patient and sometimes leads to an early death, but almost always leads to major disabilities.

Since her diagnosis, my mom’s condition has only worsened. Her double vision went away after a few months and has not returned since, but other complications have risen. Since then, little by little, I have watched my mom lose much of her ability to walk. Today at the age of forty, she walks almost everywhere with a cane. She has been told by her doctor not to drive because of slowed reaction times. Any time we go somewhere where there will be a lot of walking, she uses a wheelchair. Essentially, MS has forced my mom to age at a much greater pace than any human should have to endure. Remarkably though, in these eight years, I have never once heard her complain. Never once has she shown us any sign of self-pity. Instead, she has remained strong, accepting what fate has dealt her. In my parents’ room, she keeps a saying in a picture frame. It reads, “What is, is actual. What might be, simply is not. I must not therefore query God as though he has robbed me of things that are not.” It took me a while to understand exactly what it meant, but once I did I realized that my mom lives her life largely by the quote’s meaning. She realizes that she has MS, and nothing is going to change that, and so she accepts it and keeps going. It takes a special kind of person to do that; I do not think that many people would deal with it as well as my mom has.

Through my mom’s actions, she has taught me that no problem that I could possibly have merits complaint, because, truthfully, nobody cares. Everybody has problems in life, and no amount of complaining will ever change that. If everyone was like my mom I sincerely believe this world would be a better place. Aside from her refusal to complain, I have gained something else from my mom’s attitude. She has taught me the value of our talents and abilities, and that they should be used to their fullest while we possess them. She has inspired me to do my best in everything, and because of that I have been very successful. I love my mom for what she has been through and what she has taught me.

Photo by The College Preparatory School [CC BY 3.0 us (], via Wikimedia Commons

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