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/MECHANICS & USAGE: Interesting, varied, imaginative and age-appropriate vocabulary. 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 (450 word minimum, 500 word maximum)

  1. What is one thing you would like to do—either now or in the future—to make the world a better place? How would this help change the world and why is it important to you?
  2. This is a time when many people throughout the world are experiencing adversity in one way or another. Write about a time that you experienced something difficult.  How did you overcome adversity?  What lessons did it teach you and what advice would you give to a peer going through the same thing?

Grades 6-8 (450 word minimum, 500 word maximum)

  1. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
    Describe a time you wanted to give up on something but continued to persevere.
  2. Few and far between are the books you’ll cherish, returning to them time and again, to revisit old friends, relive old happiness, and recapture the magic of that first read.” – Michael A. Stackpole, author.
    Write about a book that has had a great influence on your life thus far.  Why did this book have an impact on you?

Grades 9-11 (650 word minimum, 750 word maximum)

  1. As a high school student it’s likely that you have learned many lessons along the way, with many more to come. What advice do you wish someone had told you as a child?  How could that piece of advice have helped you on your journey thus far?  Would it have made a difference in where you are in your life now?
  2. “It is very important to know who you are. To make decisions. To show who you are.” – Malala Yousafzai.
    Discuss three things that are important to you and why. How did you arrive at this list? Will these things be important to you in ten years? Why or why not?

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