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CommonApp Personal Essay (Topic of your Choice, incentives for charitable)

college_seeker 5 / 6  
Dec 31, 2008   #1
Yeah, so this is what I decided to write about for my essay...
Critiques and criticisms would be more than welcome!!!

Do you believe the practice of giving incentives for charitable acts is morally acceptable? In your essay, please provide examples to support your thesis statement. Be sure to conclude the essay with an explanation on what your view on this issue tells us, as admissions officers, about you.


Offering incentives for charitable acts can be acceptable depending on the true motivation of the person in question. If the person performing the charitable act does so only with the intention of receiving the reward upon its completion, then it becomes morally unacceptable. However, if their motivation is based solely on the good that will come about as a result of the charitable act, then it becomes morally acceptable.

An example of a person performing a charitable act only to receive the offered incentives upon completion is a colleague of mine that currently goes to my school. He knows that if he completes his community service hours, then he will be able to successfully graduate from high school. However, he has stated many times that if community service hours were not a requirement for graduation, he would not do any community service. In other words, he is not completing the community service hours with the interest of helping others that are in need, but rather just to aid his own ambitions and desires. The charitable act, in and of itself, can be considered good, but the intentions behind the act can be considered selfish. In the purest sense, charity is best performed under conditions in which the person performing the charity is doing so with the primary intention of helping those that would benefit from their charity.

An example of someone carrying out a charitable act out of the goodness of their heart, even with incentives being offered to them, can be best conveyed in a personal anecdote. When I was in grade school, there was an elderly man in my neighborhood that was too old to go to the grocery store and buy groceries. As a result of this situation, I cheerfully volunteered to go to the local grocery store twice a week to buy his groceries. He told me that he felt a sense of guilt in sending me to the grocery store without any form of compensation, so he offered to pay me a small sum of money to reimburse me for my time. However, I knew that he couldn't afford to pay me, so I politely rejected his offer. I continued to perform this charitable act for him up until the time he moved away from my neighborhood. I decided to perform the charitable act out of the goodness of the act itself instead of with the primary intention of receiving compensation. This is an example of charity being performed in the purest sense.

I believe that my viewpoint on this issue shows that I tend to have a strict moral system. When I was growing up, I always chose not to do something just because "everyone else was doing it", if what they were doing was morally unacceptable, even though it might not have always been the "popular" thing to do. As seen in the proceeding narrative, I am known by my family and friends as a very giving and compassionate person. I believe that these qualities are needed in people more than ever before, especially in today's society. I know that I will be able to bring these good qualities to the table if I am given the great honor of being accepted into Carnegie Mellon University.
EF_Constance - / 143  
Jan 1, 2009   #2
Well-thought out essay; however, I don't know if I would assign moral and immoral charitable actions to a specific person. The essay makes you sound like a saint and your friend to be an inconsiderate, self-serving person. While I am sure that is not the case, I would still make the two examples not specific. I would just say that person A shows an immoral charitable activity, but person B shows takes the moral high ground.

Other than a few stylistic issues, great job! Good luck!
OP college_seeker 5 / 6  
Jan 7, 2009   #3
thanks for the help! i do appreciate it.

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