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.

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

  1. Please explain how your experience volunteering and participating in community service has shaped your perspective on humanity. Elaborate on how these experiences have influenced your future ambitions and career choice.
  2. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.

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

  1. Friends play a significant role in our lives. They boost our self-confidence, increase our sense of belonging and enhance our happiness. Everyone needs friends. What are the characteristics of a friend? What makes you a good friend? Share a time when you were a friend to someone in need.
  2. Parents and teachers promote and encourage responsibility and making responsible choices. But what does it mean to be responsible? As a young person taking on more responsibility, how can you and your peers develop a sense of responsibility? What are some of your responsibilities? Do you wish you had more or less? How are you modeling responsible behaviors for your peers and siblings?

Essay Question Grades 4-5 (450 word minimum, 500 word maximum):

  1. Describe a time when you had to overcome a fear. What helped you face it? What good things came out of the experience?
  2. If you could run a business or organization of your choice, what business or organization would it be? What kinds of decisions would you make? Who would you hire?
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