Scholarship Contests

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Are Essay Contests Worth Entering for?

An essay contest is a writing contest that often pays a cash prize. As a rule, you have to write on a specified topic or answer writing prompts paying attention to style, clarity and word count. Winning writers often have their work published and prize money that helps to pay for college. Plus, entrants don’t typically need to fill out a long application or pay an entry fee which makes these contests pretty easy to apply for. 

According to a Sallie Mae study, only 21% of students have applied for scholarships in 2019 to 2020. Essay contests could be worth it for college students. It depends on your goals, the competition, and how well you may handle rejection. Writing contests could be fun to get your creative juices flowing. Also, you may win extra funds to help pay for textbooks, tuition, and other fees.

Different Types of Essay Contests

There are writing competitions of all kinds due to the many genres and platforms including social media. Here are a few you should write for:

  • Novella or Short story contest
  • Creative writing / creative nonfiction
  • Poetry contest
  • Short fiction
  • One act play 
  • Science fiction
  • Flash fiction 
  • Personal essay 

Another type of essay competition is all about the work of a specific author. Ayn Rand Institute’s essay writing contests ask students for an 800 to 1,600 word essay discussing a book such as ‘Atlas Shrugged‘. Current high school seniors and undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply. 

Scholarship essay contests are the same but the prize winner may have to verify enrollment for college at an accredited university. This is true for the Race Entry Student Scholarship. It’s an annual $500 scholarship writing contest where you write about why you enjoy running a race.

If you prefer to write what’s on your mind, check out the Think For Yourself College Scholarship Essay Contest. There are four awards (one first place top prize and three runners up). The contest is only for high school students. It asks you to consider the value of free speech, curiosity, and open mindedness in your everyday lives and write on the topic.

You might also pick up your pen to kickstart a writing career. Writer’s Digest helps up and coming writers in all genres with their annual competition. Winning stories (articles, memoirs, poetry etc.) may catch the eye of editors and literary agents alike. One grand prize winner takes away $5,000 in cash, first place is $1,000, second place $500 and another 8 writers also win money. The literary magazine also publishes the names of honorable mentions. 

10 Essay Contests You Should Write for in 2021

Eligibility for many essay contests vary but there are ones for seasoned and new writers. If you live and study in the United States, see if you qualify for the scholarship essay awards below and apply soon!

  1. Cafe Bustelo® El Cafe Del Futuro Scholarship Essay Contest
  2. 2021 Think For Yourself College Scholarship Contest
  3. Americans United Essay Contest 
  4. Americanism Education Leaders Essay Contest
  5. Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC Essay Contest 
  6. Nicholas Braswell Strong Roots Scholarship
  7. Eyre Writing Center Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
  8. Race to Inspire Essay Contest 
  9. Ayn Rand – Fountainhead Essay Contest
  10. Ayn Rand – Anthem Essay Contest 

How Do You Write a Winning Scholarship Essay?

Expressing yourself in a unique way that addresses the topic at hand is one aspect of writing a winning scholarship essay contest. When you’re writing a winning essay, consider the following tips.

1.  Identify the question or idea to write a clear and personal answer. Is it about leadership, community service, family, etc.? Then find examples of how you led, helped out or interact.

2. Dig into the theme a bit more. Maybe you did not lead a group but you babysat or tutored. Take part in the discussion in the best way for you.

3. Use any key words that the essay asks so that the team looking over your statement knows you read the question.

4. Engage your audience. Some people add quotes or pull in inspiration from others. If it stays on topic, try to show you have a broad experience in some way.

5. If you are applying for a named scholarship, find out about the person’s legacy. Try to show how they inspire or motivate you.

6. Know what criteria the committee is using to evaluate your essay. Try to check them all without it sounding rote. 

7. A essay contest is an award and also an investment in your education and future. Make sure to explain how you plan to use your degree and leader skills once you graduate.

8. Many full ride scholarships look beyond grades. If this is the case, you may have to show how you helped others. Apart from stating your experience, relate it to what you learned through giving back. 

How Should a Scholarship Essay be Structured?

Many scholarship essays come with prompts to help you format your writing. These guides are useful and necessary to stick to. Read them carefully and follow instructions because this is part of the exercise. 

Format

This includes style (e.g. AP, Chicago), double or single spaced, Word or PDF Document, margins and so on. 

Word Count

This is the number of words you have to stick to while answering every question. The judges want to see you understand the questions and answer them in a clear way so don’t attempt to write a full length book. 

Title

You may need a title for a short story competition but not always for a scholarship essay contest. 

Introduction

This is where you draw your audience in with opening remarks in 1 to 2 paragraphs. It should include the main points but should not go into detail. 

Main Body

After you introduce your main points, expand on each of them. If you made 3 points (e.g. first generation to go to college, faced a challenge, excited to reach my potential) make each point its own paragraph.

Conclusion

This is where you show how the essay contest could make a difference to your goals and future. 

Edit and Proofread

You read and followed directions now go back and double check yourself. Make sure to check your spelling and that you answered each prompt. Proofread to catch mistakes like grammatical errors, run on sentences, and others.

List of Essay Contests

Check out our list of 1,729 essay contests worth $7M.

The Lending Tree Scholarship

Enter to win $1,000 for college! The contest ends at 11:59p.m. on January 31, 2023. One winner will be randomly selected per month. Click to learn more and apply today!

Total: $12000

Awards: 12

Deadline: January 31, 2023

Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest

U.S. residents aged 14 or older who will be attending school in the fall are eligible to participate. Applicants must design a greeting card.

Total: $10000

Awards: 1

Deadline: March 02, 2023

Doodle for Google

The Doodle 4 Google competition is offered annually for students in grades K-12. To apply, one must submit a sketch or image including the Google logo in the context of this year’s theme. All doodles must be sent no later than the deadline. Click here to learn more and apply today!

Total: $150000

Awards: 5

Deadline: March 04, 2023

Foreign Service High School Essay Contest

Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate if they are in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, or if they are U.S. citizens/lawful permanent residents attending high school overseas. Students may be attending a public, private, or parochial school. Entries from home-schooled students are also accepted.

Total: $5000

Awards: 1

Deadline: April 06, 2023

Course Hero College Giveaway

Gain one (1) entry by uploading ten (10) of your best original study documents. Earn extra entries by uploading more study documents. Your documents will be uploaded to our online library for other students to access and learn with. Do not upload any personal documents containing sensitive or private information. Think about what kinds of study materials are helpful for you when you’re studying. Here’s a list of ideas: class notes that you’ve taken your test prep materials original essays or lab reports assessment study materials You probably have some of these documents already, either from your current or previous classes!

Total: $2000

Awards: 1

Deadline: April 30, 2023

BBB Educational Foundation College Scholarship Program

This contest is open to all public and private high school seniors and college students residing in the following counties in BBB’s service area in Chicago & Northern Illinois. Students must have residence in one of the following counties to be eligible: (Boone, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, JoDavies, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago).

Total: $10000

Awards: 4

Deadline: May 12, 2023

Ocean Awareness Student Contest

This scholarship contest is available for middle school and high school students in the U.S. Applicants must submit an original work of art, poetry, prose, or film that discusses a specific aspect of ocean pollution.

Total: $42000

Awards: 28

Deadline: June 13, 2023

David Womack Memorial Alabama LGBT Scholarship

IanThom Foundation offers a $1,000 scholarship available to any gay or lesbian undergraduate student who is a resident of Alabama.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 30, 2023

$500 Emergency Fund Sweeps

In these uncertain times it is important to have an emergency fund. Unigo is giving away cash so you can do just that. One lucky winner will each receive a $500 Visa Gift Card. PLUS, every person who opens an Atmos account will receive $15 in their account – regardless of whether you win the $500 Gift Card. Simply fill out the form below and then join Atmos to complete your application.

Total: $500

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 15, 2023

Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest

The Stuck at Prom Scholarship Program is available to high school students with creativity. Applicants must create and wear an outfit completely made of Duck brand duct tape to a school prom. Applicants must be 14 years of age or older and a resident of the United States or Canada to enter. Interested students can go to www.stuckatprom.com to obtain official contest rules and a registration form. Information is available under the ‘Contests’ link. Each applicant is required to submit a completed entry form and one color photograph (professional or amateur) of him or herself in prom attire; the applicant’s full name, address, telephone number, email address (if applicable) and age/grade level, and the name of the closest major city to the individual’s hometown; a release form and, if any entrant is a minor (under 18 years of age), that individual’s parent or guardian; and the name, address, and telephone number of the high school, or home school association, which is hosting the prom, and the date the prom was held. The complete entry must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on the deadline date. If the students cannot scan and upload their signed release forms online, those forms must be faxed to the number provided. Students may also mail their entry information to the address provided. Entries postmarked after the deadline date will not be accepted.

Total: $20100

Awards: 4

Deadline: July 31, 2023