History Essay Competitions For Students

Win Scholarship Money Now! 10 Essay Contests for High School Sophomores and Juniors

by MyCollegeGuide.org

Learn how to win college scholarship money now with these 10 essay contests for high school sophomores and juniors.

Opportunities abound for high school sophomores and juniors to write essays and win college scholarship money. For potential pay-days as big as $10,000, it’s time well-spent.

My College Guide has gathered a list of 10 essay contests that high school sophomores and juniors can participate in. Be sure to check each contest’s website for complete rules and deadlines. Now, get your laptop ready and start writing!

American Foreign Service Association Essay Contest: Write an essay for this prestigious national essay contest for a chance to win a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the Secretary of State and full tuition to cover a Semester at Sea voyage once you enroll at an accredited university. Any high school student can enter. New essay contest rules and the application are posted in November each year. The deadline is typically in April.

Bennington Young Writers Awards: Students in grades 10 through 12 can participate in this writing contest. Choose from one of three categories: poetry, fiction or nonfiction personal or academic essay. The deadline is usually November 1 each year. Top prize is $500.

DuPont Challenge Science Essay Contest: Middle school and high school students can participate in this essay contest. Write an essay on a science-related topic on one of four of the identified challenges: feeding the world, building a secure energy future, protecting people and the environment and being innovative. The deadline is typically in February each year. Prizes range from a $250 U.S. Savings Bond to a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond. First, second and third place winners also receive a trip to Orlando.

EGirl Essay Contest: The National Academy of Engineering’s EngineerGirl website offers an essay contest on an engineering topic for girls and boys. Awards range from $100 to $500. Winning entries are published online.

First Freedom Student Competition: Write an essay (or create a video) about a topic examining the history and current-day relevance of religious freedom. Top prize is $2,500. The deadline is usually in November each year.

The Fountainhead Essay Contest: High school juniors can read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and write an essay on one of three topics. Prizes range from $50 to $10,000. The entry deadline is typically in April.

JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest: Write an essay on a U.S. elected official “who has chosen to do what is right, rather than what is expedient.” The winner gets $10,000, second place gets $1,000 and up to five finalists receive $500 each. The deadline is typically in early January each year.

George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest: The National Society Sons of the American Revolution sponsors this annual essay contest. Students compete at the state and national levels. You must write an essay on a topic related to the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence or U.S. Constitution. The top national winner receives $2,000. State/local deadlines are usually by no later than December 31 each year, but these deadlines can vary depending on location.

National Peace Essay Contest: The U.S. Institute of Peace offers this contest. First-place state winners receive a trip to Washington, D.C., and a $1,000 scholarship. National award winners receive $2,500 to $10,000. Essays are typically due in February.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: Apply in one of 28 categories to earn a scholarship and have your artwork exhibited or writing published. Awards range from $500 to $2,500. New submissions are typically accepted beginning in September each year. Deadlines vary by region and contest.


Welcome to the 2017 Facing History Together Student Essay Contest

Making Choices in Today's World

Facing History and Ourselves teaches us to think about the world in new ways, igniting conversations about how we can build societies free from racism, antisemitism, bullying, and hatred of all kinds. 

This contest invites students to reflect on who or what has influenced how they think about their roles and responsibilities as engaged members of their communities.


Student Scholarships & Awards 

With the generous support of Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's Holocaust Remembrance Project, Facing History is excited to offer more than $25,000in scholarships and awards to students and their educators. 

Three $5,000 (£4,000​) Upstander Scholarships will be awarded to students in 7th-12th grade (years 9-13 in the UK) and their teacher will also receive a $500 (£400) Classroom Award. At least one $5,000 (£4,000​) Upstander Scholarship will be designated for a graduating senior (year 13 in the UK). 

Seven $1,000 (£800) Upstander Awards will also be awarded to students in 7th-12th grade (years 9-13 in the UK) and their teacher will also receive a $250 (£200) Classroom Award

Eligibility:Students must be at least 13 years or older and reside in the United States, Canada (with the exception of Quebec), or the United Kingdom to participate. Please note that slightly different rules apply for participants in the UK; the UK rules can be found below the US and Canada rules in the official contest rules. ​


Educator Resources 

Looking for ways to continue exploring these ideas in your classroom? Check out these ready-to-use lesson plans that will help you engage your students as they consider how they want to participate in their community and world.


Read the Official Contest Rules and FAQs

Questions? Contact contest@facinghistory.org.


The Prompt:

Facing History and Ourselves works to create a society of thoughtful citizens who think deeply about the way they live as they make choices in their local communities and confront issues of global concern. We hope that students will believe that their choices do matter and will feel compelled to think carefully about the decisions they make, realizing that their choices will ultimately shape the world.

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), the Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, once spoke of the importance of learning about people who were rescuers during the Holocaust. He said, “Let us not forget, after all, that there is always a moment when the moral choice is made. Often because of one story or one book or one person, we are able to make a different choice, a choice for humanity, for life.”

Please write an essay responding to Wiesel’s quote in 500 words or less. What story, book, or person has influenced your thinking about ethical decision making? What has it taught you about how you can participate as a caring, thoughtful citizen in the world around you?


Contest & Scholarship Supporter

Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's Holocaust Remembrance Project

For over 20 years, the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's Holocaust Remembrance Project has encouraged the study of the Holocaust and how this watershed moment in human history relates to our world today. As part of this initiative, the Foundation is generously supporting Facing History's 2017 Student Essay Contest, which will encourage students to reflect upon the Holocaust as they examine the role of moral courage in today's society. In addition to the Foundation’s financial support of the Essay Contest and its student scholarships and teacher awards, individual employees of the law firm of Holland & Knight will serve as essay reviewers.

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