Essay Contests | AynRand.org

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Have you read one of Ayn Rand’s thought-provoking novels? Now’s the time! Enter an Ayn Rand Institute essay contest for your chance to win thousands of dollars in scholarship prize money.

ARI has held worldwide essay contests for students on Ayn Rand’s fiction for more than thirty years. This year we will award over 230 prizes, totaling more than $70,000.

Questions? Write to us at essays@aynrand.org.

Sign up for updates on contest deadlines and tips on how to write a stronger essay.

 

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COMPARING ANTHEM AND THE FOUNTAINHEAD

Subjects of our two most popular essay contests

CONTEST DETAILS

Beginning this year, we have two Anthem contests for two sets of grade levels.

 

Eligibility for Anthem

8th, 9th and 10th GRADE


Entry Deadline:

NOW APRIL 30, 2020

  • 1ST PLACE
    $2,000
    1 Winner
  • 2ND PLACE
    $250
    3 Winners
  • 3RD PLACE
    $100
    5 Winners
  • FINALISTS
    $25
    50 Winners

Eligibility for Anthem

11th and 12th GRADE


Entry Deadline:

NOW APRIL 30, 2020

  • 1ST PLACE
    $2,000
    1 Winner
  • 2ND PLACE
    $250
    3 Winners
  • 3RD PLACE
    $100
    5 Winners
  • FINALISTS
    $25
    50 Winners

SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS:

  • Aside from very rare exceptions, there is no opposition to the leaders in this society. Why is this? What ideas must the people in this society have accepted to live a life of obedience, drudgery and fear?
  • Prometheus writes: “The secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who will seek them.” (Chapter 3) Why does he think that the secrets of this earth are not for all men to see? If he thinks this, why does he decide to show his glass box to the World Council of Scholars? How do these issues relate to the theme of the novel?
  • What does Equality’s society regard as sinful or transgressive, and what does it regard as holy or sacred? How does Equality’s view of what is sinful and sacred come to change by the end of the story? How do you think his ultimate view of what is sacred differs from our own society’s view of the sacred?

CRITERIA

Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Anthem.

REQUIREMENTS

  • No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
  • Entrant must be in the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at the time of the current contest deadline. ARI reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years.
  • To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
    1. your name and address;
    2. your email address (if available);
    3. the name and address of your school;
    4. topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
    5. your current grade level; and
    6. (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
  • Essay must be no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,200 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
  • One entry per student per contest.
  • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by April 30, 2020 for 11th and 12th graders and April 30, 2020 for 8th, 9th and 10th graders, no later than 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.
  • The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.
  • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail typically by July 2020.
  • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
  • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow ARI to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
  • Winners also grant to the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for nonprofit purposes, including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
  • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever, regarding the above.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback on contest essays.

The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

To submit an essay electronically, please complete the steps below:

  1. Click the “Submit your essay online” button below.
  2. You’ll be taken to our Education Programs online portal. Once there, either create an account or login using your existing user name and password.
  3. Once you’ve accessed the portal, complete the eligibility quiz, identifying yourself as a Non-Educator.
  4. Next, click on the “View Programs” button.
  5. Create a submission for the Anthem essay contest.
  6. Complete the application form.

 

SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY ONLINE

Or mail your essay with stapled cover sheet to:

Anthem Essay Contest
The Ayn Rand Institute
P.O Box 57044
Irvine, CA 92619-7044

Please do not submit duplicate essays!

Entrants are responsible for keeping copies of their essays, as duplicate copies will not be provided. If submitting your essay electronically, you will be sent an email confirming our receipt. If you have not received an email notification within 24 hours, please email essays@aynrand.org. If you are submitting by mail, please paperclip a stamped, self-addressed postcard to your essay, and we will return it to you with essay receipt confirmation.

Eligibility for The Fountainhead

11th and 12th GRADE


Entry Deadline:

NOW MAY 28, 2020

  • 1ST PLACE
    $10,000
    1 Winner
  • 2ND PLACE
    $2,500
    3 Winners
  • 3RD PLACE
    $500
    5 Winners
  • FINALISTS
    $50
    50 Winners

SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS:

  • With which character in The Fountainhead do you most empathize or identify? Explain your answer. What does the author seem to think of the character you’ve chosen? What do you think about the author’s view of the character, especially in relation to the novel’s theme. Explain your answer.
  • When Howard Roark refuses the Manhattan Bank Building contract he says that this is “the most selfish thing you’ve ever seen a man do.” And in his courtroom speech, he argues for selfishness and egoism and against the conventional morality of altruism. Do you think he is correct to praise selfishness and denounce altruism? Why or why not? Explain.
  • Why does Toohey support Keating’s career early on? What is Toohey’s purpose in promoting the careers of people like Keating, Gordon Prescott, Lois Cook, Ike the Genius, and Gus Webb? In what way does his purpose relate to his campaign against Roark? How does this issue relate to the wider themes in the novel?

CRITERIA

Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of The Fountainhead.

REQUIREMENTS

  • No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
  • Entrant must be in the 11th or 12th grade for any part of the school year in which the contest is held. ARI reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years.
  • To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
    1. your name and address;
    2. your email address (if available);
    3. the name and address of your school;
    4. topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
    5. your current grade level; and
    6. (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
  • Essay must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
  • One entry per student per contest.
  • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by May 28, 2020, no later than 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.
  • The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.
  • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail typically by July 2020.
  • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
  • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow ARI to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
  • Winners also grant to the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for nonprofit purposes, including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
  • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever regarding the above.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback on contest essays.

The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

To submit an essay electronically, please complete the steps below:

  1. Click the “Submit your essay online” button below.
  2. You’ll be taken to our Education Programs online portal. Once there, either create an account or login using your existing user name and password.
  3. Once you’ve accessed the portal, complete the eligibility quiz, identifying yourself as a Non-Educator.
  4. Next, click on the “View Programs” button.
  5. Create a submission for the The Fountainhead essay contest.
  6. Complete the application form.

 

SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY ONLINE

Or mail your essay with stapled cover sheet to:

The Fountainhead Essay Contest
The Ayn Rand Institute
P.O Box 57044
Irvine, CA 92619-7044

Please do not submit duplicate essays!

Entrants are responsible for keeping copies of their essays, as duplicate copies will not be provided. If submitting your essay electronically, you will be sent an email confirming our receipt. If you have not received an email notification within 24 hours, please email essays@aynrand.org. If you are submitting by mail, please paperclip a stamped, self-addressed postcard to your essay, and we will return it to you with essay receipt confirmation.

Eligibility for Atlas Shrugged

12th Graders, College Undergraduates and Graduate Students


Entry Deadline:

SEPTEMBER 19, 2019

  • 1ST PLACE
    $25,000
    1 Winner
  • 2ND PLACE
    $2,500
    3 Winners
  • 3RD PLACE
    $500
    5 Winners
  • FINALISTS
    $100
    50 Winners

SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS:

  • Atlas Shrugged depicts a society of diminishing economic freedom. What is the philosophical motivation behind these controls and what is the practical result? What is hero John Galt’s answer, both practically and philosophically? Use the events in the novel to support your answer. In your answer, consider what Ayn Rand says in the lecture “Faith and Force.”
  • Dagny says to Rearden: “If I’m asked to name my proudest attainment, I will say: I have slept with Hank Rearden. I had earned it.” Why is she so proud, and what does she mean by having earned it? How and why does Rearden’s attitude differ from hers? How do their attitudes toward sex relate to the wider themes of the novel? Consider also what Ayn Rand has to say in her essay “Of Living Death.”
  • Atlas Shrugged is a story that portrays a dramatic conflict of characters and their values. What is the most significant conflict in the story? Is it the conflict between the creators and the looters? Is it the conflict the creators experience in their own souls? Is it something else? Explain your answer.

CRITERIA

Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Atlas Shrugged.

REQUIREMENTS

  • No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
  • Entrant must be a 12th grader, college undergraduate or graduate student for any part of the school year in which the contest is held. ARI reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years.
  • To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
    1. your name and address;
    2. your email address (if available);
    3. the name and address of your school;
    4. topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
    5. your current grade level; and
    6. (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
  • Essay must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
  • One entry per student per contest.
  • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by September 19, 2019, no later than 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.
  • The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.
  • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail typically by January 2020.
  • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
  • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow ARI to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
  • Winners also grant to the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for nonprofit purposes including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
  • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever regarding the above.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback on contest essays.

The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

To submit an essay electronically, please complete the steps below:

  1. Click the “Submit your essay online” button below.
  2. You’ll be taken to our Education Programs online portal. Once there, either create an account or login using your existing user name and password.
  3. Once you’ve accessed the portal, complete the eligibility quiz, identifying yourself as a Non-Educator.
  4. Next, click on the “View Programs” button.
  5. Create a submission for the Atlas Shrugged essay contest.
  6. Complete the application form.

 

SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY ONLINE

Or mail your essay with stapled cover sheet to:

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
The Ayn Rand Institute
P.O Box 57044
Irvine, CA 92619-7044

Please do not submit duplicate essays!

Entrants are responsible for keeping copies of their essays, as duplicate copies will not be provided. If submitting your essay electronically, you will be sent an email confirming our receipt. If you have not received an email notification within 24 hours, please email essays@aynrand.org. If you are submitting by mail, please paperclip a stamped, self-addressed postcard to your essay, and we will return it to you with essay receipt confirmation.

PAST WINNERS

Winner
ANTHEM 8TH, 9TH AND 10TH GRADE
MADELEINE PRESCOTT
Technical Senior High School
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ANTHEM 11TH–12TH GRADE
CYNTHIA LU
Belmont High School
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
JITAE YOU
Shepherd International Education
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ANTHEM
KATRICE WASGATT
Towle Institute
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
LUCAS PRINGLE
Repton School
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ATLAS SHRUGGED
PATRICK MAYLES
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ANTHEM
ELISABETH SCHLOSSEL
The Spence School
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
ADELINA FENDRINA
High School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics “Dobri Chintulov”
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ATLAS SHRUGGED
CHRISTINA JEONG
University of Notre Dame
Read The Essay
See All Winners

FAQ

I'M A HOME-SCHOOLED STUDENT, SO CAN I STILL ENTER THE CONTEST?

Yes! Homeschooled students may enter our essay contests. Please enter the contest for your current grade level. Instead of writing your school name and address on your coversheet, just write “Homeschooled.” If you’re not sure which contest you’re eligible for, please write to the Education Department at essays@aynrand.org.

I'M A FOREIGN STUDENT, SO CAN I STILL ENTER THE CONTEST?

Yes! Foreign students may enter our essay contests, except where void or prohibited by law. We have no citizenship requirements. Please enter the contest for your current grade level. If you’re not sure which contest you’re eligible for, please write to the Education Department at essays@aynrand.org.

HOW CAN I VERIFY THAT MY ESSAY WAS RECEIVED?

If you send your essay by mail, you should paperclip a self-addressed, stamped postcard to your essay. When we receive your essay, we will drop your postcard in the mail. Alternatively, you can send your essay to us via registered mail or by using Priority Mail Delivery Confirmation. If you send your essay via email or our web form, we will reply to your message by email and notify you that we received your essay.

I INCLUDED A SELF-ADDRESSED, STAMPED POSTCARD WITH MY ESSAY, BUT I HAVEN’T RECEIVED IT BACK IN THE MAIL YET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Please note that it could take up to three weeks to receive your postcard from the date you sent your essay. If you are concerned that your essay was lost by the post office, please write to essays@aynrand.org.

CAN I SEND MY ESSAY IN BEFORE THE DEADLINE ?

Yes

CAN I SEND MY ESSAY IN AFTER THE DEADLINE ?

We cannot accept essays postmarked after the deadline. If you have a valid reason why your essay could not be postmarked by the appropriate deadline, please write to essays@aynrand.org.

I ENTERED ONE OF YOUR CONTESTS IN A PREVIOUS YEAR; CAN I ENTER AGAIN THIS YEAR?

Yes, as long as you were not previously a first-place winner. In fact, some students have won prizes two years in a row!

I AM IN A DIFFERENT GRADE THAN WHAT IS LISTED FOR THE CONTEST; MAY I STILL ENTER?

You can enter if in a lower grade, but not if you are in a higher grade.

IF I WIN, DO I HAVE TO APPLY THE PRIZE MONEY TOWARD COLLEGE?

No. All awards are cash prizes. We place no restrictions on how the prize money is spent. Prize winners simply receive a check from us in the amount of their award.

DO I NEED TO INCLUDE A BIBLIOGRAPHY OR DO I NEED TO REFERENCE PAGE NUMBERS?

You do not need to reference page numbers for quotes from the essay topics. However, if you use any quotes from the novel you are writing about, you should cite the page numbers and place quotation marks around the quoted material. You do not need to include a bibliography unless you quote from a source besides the novel you are writing on. (Please note that you do not need to reference any additional material other than the assigned novel to write your essay. See the next question.)

SHOULD I CITE OTHER SOURCES BESIDES THE NOVEL I’M WRITING ON?

You do not need any source material other than the novel you are writing on. However, you may quote and reference other sources if you like. If you do, please cite your sources and include a bibliography with your essay.

CAN I HAVE A FRIEND/TEACHER/PARENT PROOFREAD MY ESSAY? IS THAT PLAGIARISM?

Yes, you may have your essay proofread. It is not plagiarism to have someone check your essay for spelling and grammatical or structural errors. However, it is plagiarism to have someone else write your essay for you, or if you use someone else’s words as if they were your own (see above regarding citing outside sources).

WHAT EXACTLY IS PLAGIARISM?

Plagiarism is using someone else’s words as if they were your own. It is not plagiarism as long as you cite your sources.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I’VE WON A PRIZE IN ONE OF THE CONTESTS?

We typically contact all the Atlas Shrugged contest entrants by January of the contest year, and all the Anthem and The Fountainhead contest entrants by July of the contest year.

CAN I WRITE MORE THAN ONE ENTRY FOR A CONTEST?

No. You may submit only one entry for each contest, each year.

I AM ELIGIBLE TO ENTER MORE THAN ONE CONTEST. CAN I SUBMIT ESSAYS TO MORE THAN ONE OF YOUR CONTESTS?

Yes! You are welcome to enter multiple contests.

CAN I WRITE ON MORE THAN ONE TOPIC?

No. The contest guidelines ask that you select ONE of three topics. Please select only one topic.

CAN I WRITE ON A TOPIC OTHER THAN THE THREE LISTED IN THE CONTEST RULES?

No. Essays not written on one of the three topics will be disqualified.

WHERE CAN I FIND A COPY OF THE NOVEL I WANT TO WRITE ON?

All of Ayn Rand’s novels can be purchased via links from our website. They should also be available in your local bookstore or library.

IS IT NECESSARY FOR ME TO KNOW ABOUT OBJECTIVISM TO WRITE MY ESSAY?

No. Judges look for essays that show a clear understanding of the novel, so no additional knowledge about Ayn Rand’s philosophy is required.

I DISAGREE WITH AYN RAND’S PHILOSOPHY; HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MY CHANCES OF WINNING?

This will have no effect on your chances of winning. Judges look for writing that demonstrates an understanding of the novel, not whether the student agrees with it.

Are graduate students eligible for the Atlas Shrugged contest?

Yes, graduate students are welcome to participate in the contest.

Are community college students eligible for the Atlas Shrugged contest?

Yes, community college students are welcome to participate in the contest.

Do I have to have a declared major to enter the Atlas Shrugged contest?

No.

Is there an age limit for the Atlas Shrugged contest?

No.

ARE TRADE/CERTIFICATE SCHOOLS ACCEPTED?

Yes

CAN SOMEONE WHO IS IN THE MILITARY, BUT WHO IS ENROLLED IN SCHOOL, ENTER THE ESSAY CONTESTS?

Yes

I HAVE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS NOT ANSWERED IN THIS FAQ; WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Please send your comments or questions about the essay contests to essays@aynrand.org. In most cases, we should be able to respond within two to five business days.