The Ivy Coach Daily

September 8, 2023

2023-2024 Carnegie Mellon Supplemental Essay Prompts

This is an aerial view of Carnegie Mellon University.
Carnegie Mellon has published its supplemental essays for applicants to the Class of 2028 (photo credit: Dllu).

Carnegie Mellon University has released its 2023-2024 admissions essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028. CMU requires applicants to write three essays (in addition to The Common Application’s Personal Statement). Each essay has a 300-word maximum. So, what are this year’s CMU essays? Let’s find out!

2023-2024 Carnegie Mellon University Essay Topics and Questions

1. 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 essay prompt is a straight-up-the-middle Why Major question. CMU’s admissions committee wants to understand the origin of an applicant’s interest in their chosen area of study. It’s critical that students write their origin story in high school rather than as children. Admissions officers, after all, want to learn about how you think now — not as a middle-schooler or toddler.

Also, it would be ideal if the applicant’s activities reflect their interest in their chosen area of study so they present with a singular hook rather than well-roundedness.

2. 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?

CMU’s admissions committee wants to see that an applicant is eager for a challenge. They want to see that while a student has firm conviction, they also are malleable to change. After all, the beauty of a liberal arts education is exposure to a variety of disciplines and ways of thinking. As such, an anecdote that showcases how a student has learned something that has changed their lives — ideally but not necessarily connected to their hook as presented in their activity section — can be a great approach to this prompt.

3. 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).

Much like The Common Application’s Personal Statement, this essay prompt is a free-write. Students can write whatever it is they’d like. Applicants should just be sure not to be redundant — they shouldn’t repeat things they’ve written in previous essays. And they should be sure to highlight their intellectual curiosity. Too often, students write silly answers to vague essay prompts. That’s never the right approach.

This essay prompt is an opportunity to make it clear to admissions officers how a student thinks and how they hope to contribute to the world in their own small but meaningful way.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Carnegie Mellon Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to CMU by submitting compelling essays that shine a strobe light on your hook, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college admissions counseling services for seniors.

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