Carnegie Mellon Supplement Essay Prompt

When I tell a friend or family member that I’m going to Major in Design, they normally respond by looking slightly confused, then asking “What exactly is that?” I always immediately seek the refuge of a specific example; maybe explaining how the apps on their phone are designed or how the money in their pocket has to meet the goals of security and usability alike. Most of the time they say they’ve never really thought about it before.

However, unlike them, since my childhood I have constantly thought about and tinkered with the things that permeate our everyday lives — often technology items, like phones and software. But stories, ideas and how to communicate different messages was equally of interest.

My enthusiasm in both areas led me to start [redacted 1], my tech publication, in seventh grade. While running [redacted 1], I received products for review from tech giants and startups alike. Reviewing a device was a challenge two-fold; firstly, I had to evaluate the product within the correct context and then decide how to best communicate my observations in a review. During my summer internship at [redacted 2], I saw first-hand how writers, directors, editors and designers work together to tell stories from conception through completion. Unlike many teams who succumb to the illusion of having to choose between speed and quality, they consistently achieve both; and that’s a methodology I carry to this day.

Later, after completing my internship at [redacted 3] in 2014, they hired me part-time and I stayed connected with their company. When they pivoted and starting working on a new idea, I became involved with the ideation and design feedback loop for their new app. This experience of generating ideas, bouncing them off people and iterating was intense — but also rewarding. Becoming involved in the creation phase after being constrained to the critique phase for so long was refreshing. Even though I wasn’t ultimately in charge, I believed my ideas had something to add and advocating for them was an exciting new challenge as well.

With experience and interest in both communication and product design, I’ve found myself caught in a difficult place. At most universities, I would be required to make a choice between one of the two, and some schools are so limited, that if you pick wrong, you might be out of luck until you can transfer institutions. But, Carnegie Mellon’s flexible BDes undergraduate curriculum doesn’t force students to decide out of the gate. Knowing that for the first two semesters I will soak in Product, Communication and Environmental design is hugely attractive — it means peace of mind, and that has been been all too rare in my search for institutions.

Additionally, unlike many other art or design schools, the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon is located within the broader context of a research university. The School of Computer Science and its Human-Computer Interaction Institute each offer extremely enticing minors to supplement my education at the School of Design — opportunities like that can rarely be found at traditional design schools.

Finally, as someone who aims to find their self within the tech sector in the future, Carnegie Mellon’s vast ties to the technology world only serve to further underscore its appeal. Some digging on LinkedIn revealed hundreds of Carnegie Mellon graduates in design positions working at companies I would love to be part of — those numbers are, again, peace of mind.

Carnegie Mellon’s uniquely flexible BDes Bachelor of Design degree, the School of Design’s place inside a fully fleshed out institution and its connections to world of tech are just some of reasons I’m so interested. I’ll be flying down from [redacted Canadian city] to present my Portfolio in-person and I can’t wait to take a look around.


[redacted 1]: My technology YouTube Channel & publication

[redacted 2]: A large technology publication

[redacted 3]: A small california startup

Anonymous Student. "Why Carnegie Mellon University?" Study Notes, LLC., 09 Apr. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2018. <>.

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Carnegie Mellon welcomes applications from students with non-traditional academic backgrounds, including prospective students who are seeking a second bachelor’s degree or those interested in a first bachelor’s degree several years after graduating from high school.

To apply for a second bachelor’s degree if your first degree is from Carnegie Mellon:

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