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. How does the imagination play a real role in life? What are the ways the imagination adds to life, society, the environment, the economy and education?
  2. Throughout your educational journey thus far, which teacher has made the biggest impact on your life? Explain why this teacher has been instrumental in your growth. What qualities about them do you admire?

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

  1. What is the most significant event in American History to you? Why is this particular event meaningful to you and what can be learned from it?
  2. Reflect on the best piece of advice that you’ve been given. Who gave you this advice and why was it needed? Describe how this advice helped you persevere in a situation and what the experience taught you.

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

  1. What memorable act of kindness stands out to you, and how did it change you?
  2. Imagine one day at school you are allowed to create a new rule for students to follow. Explain the rule you create and why you chose to make that rule. How would this new rule help to improve your school and community?
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