Essay Scoop: How to Answer Carnegie Mellon Essays

Julia de Raadt
Julia de Raadt

Julia has dedicated much of her career to education. Since commencing with Empowerly, Julia has looked after the research team which handles student questions on different topics about college admission.

Andrew Carnegie, a self-educated, Scottish “working boy” who loved books, established Carnegie Mellon University in the early 1900s. Today, it is a top tier university. CMU holds a reputation for innovation, for solving real-world problems, and for interdisciplinary collaboration. In order to get a sense of you as a person, Carnegie Mellon looks very closely at the essays you write. Here we provide some tips and traps to responding to these questions for the Carnegie Mellon essays.

Throughout the admission process, Carnegie Mellon selects a highly talented, diverse undergraduate population with high aspirations. This includes students with non-traditional academic backgrounds like veterans; students who are seeking a first bachelor’s several years after graduating from high school; or those who are seeking a second bachelor’s degree.

Since these essays play such an important role, it’s a good idea to start early. In fact, you’ll want plenty of time to draft, revise, and proofread. So, without further delay, let’s get started!

Please submit a one page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen Carnegie Mellon and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s).

This essay should include the reasons why you’ve chosen the major(s), any goals or relevant work plans and any other information you would like us to know. For freshmen applying to more than one college or program, please mention each college or program to which you are applying. Because our admission committees review applicants by college and program, your essay can impact our final decision. Candidates applying for early decision or transfer may apply to only one college and department.

This is a very straightforward “why us” question. As a result, your response requires research on aspects specific to Carnegie Mellon that match your interests. In other words, explain what you hope to do with the education! Research academic programs, professors, courses, clubs, student life, school traditions, and other aspects that you want to mention. Be sure to explain the skill/lesson you’d gain as you mention 1 resource (max of 2) per paragraph.

List the books (if any) you’ve read this year for pleasure.

Choose one and in a sentence describe its impact on you.

Provide a short list of books, about 5 and explain its significance on you- this can be a change in thought, change in perspective, or anything with an effect.

If there was an interruption…

… during your secondary school or collegiate experience or between your secondary school and collegiate experience (gap year(s)) when you were not enrolled and as a result, not making normal academic progress, please explain the reason for the interruption.

Only type here if you’ve faced obstacles to academic progress. You can consider this an optional question.

While not a requirement, have you been interviewed by an alumni or on campus representative prior to applying for admission?

If so, indicate the name of your interviewer and tell us how it impacted your decision to apply. (500 word maximum.)

Apart from performing their duty, interviewers can be a great informational resource because of their ties to universities. We always recommend asking questions that unearth a better glimpse of what the university has to offer. If you found your interviewer especially interesting of if exciting information about student culture, academic programs, or any other ‘insider’ information then mention it here. The key is to convey your excitement through your explanation of what makes it desirable for you.

Looking for more advice and guidance? We can help with anything from the Carnegie Mellon essays to sending that final transcript. We invite you to book a free consultation with us to learn more about the Empowerly community, and how we help students thrive.

Questions? Let us know!