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Carnegie Mellon University 2019-20 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide 

Carnegie Mellon University 2019-20 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 3 short essays of 300 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s):  WhyShort Answer

Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience?

So many factors go into shaping your educational experience: course selection, professors, classmates, campus culture, even the city where you’ll live. Think through how each of these will affect you and jot down some examples of what you’re looking for in each. Do you value a professor who is accessible via office hours? Do you focus well in a stadium-seating lecture hall? Are you excited to start a small study group for your Medieval Romance & Arthurian Legends literature course? Additionally, do some research on their website and show them that you value what they specifically have to offer. Give them a peek into how you learn and help them visualize you as a thriving student in their community.

Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study?

This prompt sounds simple enough: describe what you want to study and why you like it so much so that you’re willing to dedicate four years of your life to it (at the very least). While you might be tempted to get technical or poetic in your response, your reader will expect you to connect your intended major with some prior experience and/or passion. In other words, tell a story. Lucky for you, we would have advised you to start with an anecdote anyway. The most personal, memorable essays spring from concrete descriptions of your lived experience. What excites you and why? When was the last time you got drawn down a Reddit rabbit hole – and what was the topic? While you don’t need to drill to the origin of your interest in a given topic, try to zero in on some formative experience: the best TED Talk you ever watched, the first time you spoke to your new friend in ASL, that one time when you shadowed an EMT and saw what it’s like to help people in need! Your story should showcase your unique connection to your chosen course of study. And don’t forget: CMU asks what passion OR inspiration led you to choose this area of study. You can also talk about a particularly powerful book you read or a life-changing experience that set you on this path. Just make sure to use details to bring your story to life.

Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please).

This prompt is a kind of free for all opportunity. Much like Common App’s prompt #7, CMU is giving you free reign to write about any topic under the sun. If you’re overwhelmed by all the potential possibilities, don’t fret. Instead take a breath and ask yourself: What doesn’t admissions know about me yet? What do I wish I’d had more space to write about on my resume or activity list? If you’ve written a supplemental essay for another school about a particularly rewarding activity, this is an excellent place to tweak and recycle that essay. Almost any essay that you have already written in response to supplemental essay prompts for other schools will be applicable here, as long as it doesn’t address what you want to study or how you work with others. If you haven’t already drafted any others supplemental essays that would fit here, feel free to seek inspiration in the prompts for other schools (ideally the ones on your list). Worst case scenario, revisit your personal statement brainstorming notes and think about the topics that you almost wrote about. Can you write about any of those memories or stories in 200 words?

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