What traits or characteristics should the Recommendation mention?

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When writing about a student’s qualities, we encourage you to be as specific as possible, providing examples or stories when applicable. One of the goals of the recommendation is to help us and our college partners understand a student as a person and how they contribute to their community.

The personal qualities that are listed in the recommendation are traits that have often been used to describe successful QuestBridge applicants. It is not, however, meant to be an exhaustive list of the personal qualities that we consider when evaluating an application. Below is a list of these personal qualities as QuestBridge generally understands them.

  • Agency/Self-Efficacy: The student is confident in their ability to positively affect their life outcomes. They believe they have options and can choose how to deal with challenging situations. 
  • Compassion/Empathy: The student is concerned about the well-being of others, and they are able to put themselves “into others’ shoes”. They are driven to help others who are suffering or in need.
  • Courage: The student is willing to face challenges and difficulty despite their own doubts or fears. The student may find themselves speaking up for what is right, facing difficult social situations, or going beyond their comfort zone.
  • Curiosity/Passion for Learning: The student exhibits a desire to learn and understand new things. They are often asking questions, exploring new ideas, and investigating or researching to reach their own answers
  • Desire to Improve: The student shows a consistent effort to improve themselves. They seek to learn from their mistakes and exhibit a growth-mindset.
  • Exceptional Natural Intelligence: The student is quick to learn and apply new knowledge and skills.
  • Generosity/Selflessness: The student seeks to give to those around them. They may share their material belongings, attention, and/or time freely with others. They tend to put others first, and are willing to make individual sacrifices.
  • Gratitude: The student shows appreciation for what they have and for what others have given to them. They see the good-will in the world around them.
  • Inclusivity: The student engages with different views, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. They recognize and embrace the value of diversity, and they work to include people with backgrounds and experiences different from their own.
  • Integrity/Honesty: The student is dedicated to the truth. They are true to themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and are genuine in their interactions with others.
  • Optimism: The student approaches problems and challenges in their life with positivity. They have confidence in a positive future.
  • PurposeThe student sees their actions as part of a larger, consistent goal and value framework. The student finds the goal to be meaningful both for themselves and for others.
  • Resilience/Grit: The student's experiences have demonstrated difficulty or challenge that threatens their development or well-being. They have overcome and done well despite these experiences.
  • Resourcefulness: The student is able to deal with or solve difficult or stressful situations with their own solutions, especially with limited resources. Often the student is creative or innovative with their solutions.
  • Self-Control: The student is able to postpone their immediate wants and impulses in order to accomplish their longer-term goals for themselves, or in the service of a larger mission.

Character trait summaries were created using various sources, including the Making Caring Common Project and the VIA Institute on Character.

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