Answers from the QuestBridge Educator Advisory Committee:
- I make them "tell me their story" in detail. We talk about the kinds of things in their story that defines them. After we decide that, I tell them to write the story.
- The Common App, QuestBridge, and the University of California all have prompts that can assist students in getting started on "their story." I tell them to start early, have family or friends read their essay to see if they are forgetting something significant in their lives. Getting a draft written, then getting feedback, pondering the prompt and their life experience in general, re-writing, or writing a new essay, are all part of a good writing process.
Help students find what makes them stand out....all students will have a personal story to tell and you can help them discover what makes it a 'QuestBridge' story. Students truly just need to be who they are when writing the essay...the best advice I could give when composing their story is genuineness. The writing samples themselves are important, but being a QuestBridge Scholar is more than just composing eloquent essays, it is about the whole student and their personal story. Educators need to invite students to dig deep and maybe even make themselves a little vulnerable when drafting their story....
Remind them that they have to be remembered by the application readers--they aren't going for a "sob story," but this is definitely a scholarship that rewards a certain type of student. Insist that the student stay focused on showing those attributes and experiences that make him or her fit into the picture of the typical QuestBridge Scholar.
- Because of the large number of students in our senior class, our English teachers support the students with their essay writing. I will admit that, as a courtesy, I read many essays, but I refer them to their English teachers.
- I am fortunate that our senior English teachers require an essay (usually from the Common App prompts) as a graded writing assignment. However, I access the English classes during the 3rd week of school to conduct a session on writing essays and making their essays unique and personal. I have sample essays to share with them and we analyze and discuss which essays they connect with most and why.