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Nomination Tips

And Essay Questions

The Carson Scholars Fund believes that schools know their students best. For this reason, we do not mandate a specific nomination process. We encourage all schools to use an open process to determine their nominee – in other words, please consider all possible candidates before making your decision. Remember that you must nominate a new candidate who has not been previously awarded a Carson Scholarship.

It is often helpful to start by identifying all students who meet our GPA requirement of a 3.75 or higher. (We work with thousands of different schools across the country. For this reason, we have developed standardized rules for calculating GPAs that may differ from what your school usually does.) Please review our GPA Calculation Rules and Policies to learn how we calculate GPAs.

Here are two methods that schools often use to nominate students after identifying those with a 3.75 or higher GPA:

  • Form a committee of educators/guidance counselors to select a qualified candidate.
  • Hold an informal essay contest among possible candidates to help narrow the selection field.

It is crucial that participants and their parents/guardians understand that they are not Carson Scholar Award recipients during any school-sponsored applicant selection process prior to submission of this application. Submission of an application is not a guarantee of an award.

Applicants are evaluated on their teacher recommendation, community service and essay. Since the student essay carries the greatest weight in terms of possible points earned, the applicant’s efforts should be concentrated on the essay portion of the application. Here are the categories we use to score the essay:

  • CONTENT: An essay with ample information, including supporting details.
  • ORGANIZATION: An organized essay with a well-developed beginning, middle and end.
  • STYLE: Interesting, varied, imaginative and age-appropriate vocabulary.
  • MECHANICS & USAGE: Correct punctuation, capitalization, spelling and paragraph distinction.
  • FOCUS: Appropriate information to make the reader clearly understand the ideas being presented.

Essay Questions

Applicants can choose one essay question from their grade level.

Grades 4-5 (500 word maximum)

  1. Who is your personal hero? Describe what characteristics they have and what makes that person a hero to you.
  2. We are learning all the time. Some of our learning takes place in school and some outside of school. Think of a time you learned an important lesson outside of school. Tell us about your experience and what you learned.

Grades 6-8 (500 word maximum)

  1. “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” – Nelson Mandela
    How has having a good head, heart, and education helped to shape who you are today?  How may it help you in the future?
  1. What do you think an older generation could learn from you? What skills, attitudes or habits does your generation have that you think older people could benefit from adopting? Why?

Grades 9-11 (750 word maximum)

  1. I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.” – Maya Angelou
    What do you advocate for? Provide examples of actions you have taken.
  2. “I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” – Harold Kushner
    Reflect on your personal book of life. Write the next chapter in the book.