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. What is the most difficult aspect of personal growth? What can you do to overcome that obstacle and reach your growth goals?

2. Imagine that you are talking to your younger self. What accomplishment would your younger self be most proud to see that you have achieved? Tell your younger self the story of how you accomplished it, the steps you took to do so and the most valuable lesson you learned in the process.

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

1. Write about one of the biggest mistakes you have ever made. What important lessons did you learn from that mistake? How did making that mistake help improve who you are today?

2. How do you define personal growth? Why is it important for people to strive to improve themselves?

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

1. What is your favorite fictional character? Imagine they were your classmate, what would be a good way you could work together to do something good for others?

2. Write about something big you have accomplished in the past year. What steps did you take to achieve it?


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