Essay Scoops: How to Answer Carnegie Mellon Essays

Established in the early 1900’s by a self-educated, Scottish “working boy” who loved books, Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon University is known for innovation, for solving real-world problems and for interdisciplinary collaboration.

Carnegie Mellon selects a highly talented, diverse undergraduate population with high aspirations including 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.

To get a sense of who you are as a person Carnegie Mellon looks very closely at the essay and personal statements you are asked to write, Here we provide some tips and traps to responding to these questions.

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 that requires research on aspects specific to Carnegie Mellon that match your interests. Explain what you hope to do with the education and 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.

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.

Questions? Let us know!