Questbridge Application Essay Questions

In 300 words or fewer, write on one of the two essay topics below. In addition to writing on your chosen topic, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created that is meaningful to you and relates to your essay. Above your essay, include a one-sentence description of what you have submitted.

  • What do you most enjoy learning?
  • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community?

Please limit your upload to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Note that advanced editing of audio/video/image/documents is not necessary. While we are not providing limits to the length of the material you upload, the Admissions Office may not have time to review the entirety of your submission. Sometimes, less is more.

Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. If you wish to submit material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty, please see our Supplementary Material instructions.

Optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay

If you selected one of the computer science or engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in computer science or engineering, and what it is about Yale’s program in this area that appeals to you. (Please answer in 500 words or fewer.)

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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