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If you're a writer—fiction, non-fiction, or fanfiction—you can put those skills to work for you. There are tons of writing contests for high school students, which can award everything from medals to cash prizes to scholarships if you win .

Not only will a little extra money, whether cash or scholarships, help you when it comes time to pay for college, but the prestige of a respected reward is also a great thing to include on your college application.

Read on to learn more about what writing contests for high school students there are, how to apply, and what you could win !

Writing Contests With Multiple Categories

Some high school contests accept entries in a variety of formats, including the standard fiction and non-fiction, but also things like screenwriting or visual art. Check out these contests with multiple categories:

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

  • Award Amount: $1,000 to $12,500 scholarships
  • Deadline: Varies between December and January, depending on your region
  • Fee: $10 for single entry, $30 for portfolio

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards celebrate art by students in grades seven through twelve (age 13 or older) on a regional and national scale. These awards have a huge number of categories and styles, including cash prizes or scholarships for some distinguished award winners . Categories include science-fiction and fantasy writing, humor, critical essays, and dramatic scripts, among others.

Deadlines vary by region (but are mostly in December and January), so use Scholastic's Affiliate Partner search to find out when projects are due for your area.

Scholastic partners with other organizations to provide prizes to winners, so what you can win depends on what you enter and what competition level you reach. Gold medal portfolio winners can earn a $12,500 scholarship, and silver medal winners with distinction can earn a $2,000 scholarship , as well as many other options in different categories.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are open to private, public, or home-schooled students attending school in the US, Canada, or American schools in other countries. Students must be in grades seven through twelve to participate. Eligibility varies between regions, so consult Scholastic's Affiliate Partner search tool to figure out what applies to you .

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have a $10 entry fee for individual submissions and $30 for portfolio submissions, which may be waived for students in need . These fees may vary depending on location, so be sure to check your local guidelines .

Ocean Awareness Contest

  • Award Amount: Scholarships up to $1,500
  • Deadline: June 13, 2023 (submissions open in September)

The Ocean Awareness Contest asks students to consider the future of a coastal or marine species that is under threat from climate change. Submissions are accepted in a variety of art forms, but all must consider the way that climate change impacts ocean life .

Submissions for all categories, including art, creative writing, film, interactive and multimedia, music and dance, and poetry and spoken word are due in June, although the exact date varies slightly each year.

Winners may receive prizes of up to a $1,500 scholarship , depending on which division they fall into and what prize they win.

The contest is open to all international and US students between the ages of 11 and 18.

River of Words

  • Award: Publication in the River of Words anthology
  • Deadline: January 31, 2023

The River of Words contest asks students to consider watersheds—an area that drains into the same body of water—and how they connect with their local community. Students can explore this concept in art or poetry, with winners being published in the annual River of Words anthology .

Entries in all categories must be submitted by January 31, 2023. 

The River of Words contest is primarily for recognition and publication, as the website doesn't list any prize money . The contest includes specific awards for certain forms, such as poetry, some of which may have additional prizes .

The contest is open to International and US students from kindergarten to grade 12 (ages 5 through 19). Students who have graduated from high school but are not yet in college are also eligible.

Adroit Prizes

  • Award Amount: $200 cash award
  • Deadline: Typically April of each year

Sponsored by the Adroit Journal, the Adroit Prizes reward high school students and undergraduate students for producing exemplary fiction and poetry. Students may submit up to six poems or three works of prose (totaling 3,500 words) for consideration. Submissions typically open in spring .

Winners receive $200 and (along with runners-up) have their works published in the Adroit Journal . Finalists and runners-up receive a copy of their judge's latest published work.

The contest is open to secondary and undergraduate students, including international students and those who have graduated early . The Adroit Prizes has a non-refundable fee of $15, which can be waived.

YoungArts Competition

  • Award Amount: Up to $10,000 cash awards
  • Deadline: October 15, 2022; application for 2024 opens June 2023

Open to students in a variety of disciplines, including visual arts, writing, and music, the YoungArts competition asks students to submit a portfolio of work. Additional requirements may apply depending on what artistic discipline you're in .

Winners can receive up to $10,000 in cash as well as professional development help, mentorship, and other educational rewards.

Applicants must be 15- to 18-year-old US citizens or permanent residents (including green card holders) or in grades 10 through 12 at the time of submission . There is a $35 submission fee, which can be waived.

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Fiction Writing Contests for High School Students

Many contests with multiple categories accept fiction submissions, so also check out the above contests if you're looking for places to submit original prose.

EngineerGirl Writing Contest

  • Award Amount: $100 - $500 cash prize
  • Deadline: February 1, 2023

This year's EngineerGirl Writing Contest asks students (though the name of the organization is "EngineerGirl," students of any gender may participate) to submit a piece of writing that shows how female and/or non-white engineers have contributed to or can enhance engineering’s great achievements. Word counts vary depending on grade level.

At every grade level, first-place winners will receive $500, second-place winners will receive $250, and third-place winners will receive $100 . Winning entries and honorable mentions will also be published on the EngineerGirl website.

Students of any gender from third to 12th grade may submit to this contest. Home-schooled and international students are also eligible.

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Nonfiction Contests for High School Students

Like fiction, non-fiction is often also accepted in contests with multiple categories. However, there are quite a few contests accepting only non-fiction essays as well.

The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest

  • Award Amount: $1,250 to $2,500
  • Deadline: April 3, 2023

The American Foreign Services Association sponsors a high school essay contest tasking students with selecting a country or region in which the United States Foreign Service has been involved at any point since 1924 and describe, in 1,500 words or less, how the Foreign Service was successful or unsuccessful in advancing American foreign policy goals in this country/region and propose ways in which it might continue to improve those goals in the coming years .

One winner will receive $2,500 as well as a Washington D.C. trip and a scholarship to attend Semester at Sea . One runner-up receives $1,250 and a scholarship to attend the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference.

Entries must be from US students in grade nine through 12, including students in the District of Columbia, US territories, or US citizens attending school abroad, including home-schooled students.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Contest

  • Award Amount: $100 - $10,000
  • Deadline: January 13, 2023

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage contest tasks students with writing an essay between 700 and 1,000 words on an act of political courage by a US elected official serving during or after 1917 , inspired by John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage . Each essay should cover the act itself as well as any obstacles or risks the subject faced in achieving their act of courage. Essays must not cover figures previously covered in the contest, and should also not cover John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, or Edward M. Kennedy.

One first-place winner will receive $10,000, one second-place winner will receive $3,000, five finalists will receive $1,000 each, and eight semi-finalists will win $100 each.

The contest is open to students in grades nine through 12 who are residents of the United States attending public, private, parochial, or home schools . Students under the age of 20 in correspondence high school programs or GED programs, as well as students in US territories, Washington D.C., and students studying abroad, are also eligible.

SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest

  • Award Amount: $300 - $1,000 scholarships
  • Deadline: February 19, 2023 (submissions open in November)

The SPJ/JEA high school essay contest , organized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association, asks students to  analyze the importance of independent media to our lives (as of now, the official essay topic for spring 2023 is TBD) . Essays should be from 300 to 500 words.

A $1,000 scholarship is given to a first-place winner, $500 to second-place, and $300 to third-place.

The contest is open to public, private, and home-schooled students of the United States in grades 9-12 .

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Playwriting Contests for High School Students

For those who love the stage, playwriting contests are a great option. An original play can earn you great rewards thanks to any of these contests!

VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competition

  • Award: Participation in professional development activities at the Kennedy Center
  • Deadline: January 4, 2023 (Application opens in October)

The VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competition asks students with disabilities to submit a ten-minute script exploring their personal experiences, including the disability experience . Scripts may be realistic, fictional, or abstract, and may include plays, screenplays, or musical theater.

All entries are due in January. Scripts may be collaborative or written by individuals, but must include at least one person with a disability as part of the group .

One winner or group of winners will be selected as participants in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Winners will have access to professional assistance in developing their script as well as workshops and networking opportunities.

This contest is open to US and international students in ages 14 to 18 . Groups of up to five members may collaborate on an essay, but at least one of those students must have a disability.

Worldwide Plays Festival Competition

  • Award: Professional production in New York
  • Deadline: March (official 2023 deadline TBD)

In the Worldwide Plays Festival Competition , students from around the world can submit an eight-minute script for a play set in a part of a neighborhood —specifically, at a convenience store, outside a character's front door, or at a place where people convene. Each play must have roles for three actors, should not have a narrator who isn't also a character, and should not contain set changes.

Entries are due in February. Winners will have their play produced by professionals at an off-Broadway New York theater . Scholarships are also available for winners.

Any student, including US and international, in first through 12th grade may submit work for consideration.

  • Award Amount: $50 - $200 cash prize
  • Deadline: 2023 deadline TBD (application opens January 2023)

Students may submit a one-act, non-musical play of at least ten pages to YouthPLAYS for consideration . Plays should be appropriate for high school audiences and contain at least two characters, with one or more of those characters being youths in age-appropriate roles. Large casts with multiple female roles are encouraged.

One winner will receive $250, have their play published by YouthPLAYS, and receive a copy of Great Dialog , a program for writing dialog. One runner up will receive $100 and a copy of Great Dialog.

Students must be under the age of 19, and plays must be the work of a single author.

The Lewis Center Ten-Minute Play Contest

  • Deadline: Spring of each year

Students in grade 11 may submit a ten-minute play for consideration for the Lewis Center Ten-Minute Play Contest . Plays should be 10 pages long, equivalent to 10 minutes.

One first-prize winner will receive $500, one second-prize winner will receive $250, and one third-prize will receive $100.

All entries must be from students in the 11th grade .

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Poetry Writing Contests for High School Students

For those who prefer a little free verse or the constraints of a haiku, there are plenty of poetry-specific contests, too.

Creative Communications Poetry Contest

  • Award Amount: $25
  • Deadline: December

Students in ninth grade or below may submit any poem of 21 lines or less (not counting spaces between stanzas) for consideration in the Creative Communications Poetry Contest .

Students may win $25, a free book, and school supplies for their teacher .

Public, private, or home-schooled US students (including those in detention centers) in kindergarten through ninth grade may enter.

Leonard L. Milberg '53 High School Poetry Prize

  • Award Amount: $500-$1500
  • Deadline: November 

Students in 11th grade may submit up to three poems for consideration in the Leonard L. Milberg '53 High School Poetry Prize . Submissions are due in November .

One first-prize winner will receive $1500, one second-prize winner will receive $750, and a third-prize winner will receive $500. Poems may be published on arts.princeton.edu. All entrants must be in the 11th grade.

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

  • Award Amount: $500 - $5,000 renewable scholarship, $350 cash prize
  • Deadline: October 31, 2022

Women poets who are sophomores or juniors in high school may submit two poems for consideration for the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest .

One first-place winner will receive a $350 cash prize, publication in and ten copies of Cargoes , Hollins' student magazine, as well as a renewable scholarship of up to $5,000 for Hollins and free tuition and housing for the Hollinsummer creative writing program. One second-place winner will receive publication in and two copies of Cargoes, a renewable scholarship to Hollins of up to $1,000, and a $500 scholarship to attend Hollinsummer.

Applicants must be female students in their sophomore or junior year of high school .

What's Next?

If you're looking for more money opportunities for college , there are plenty of scholarships out there— including some pretty weird ones .

For those who've been buffing up their test scores , there are tons of scholarships , some in the thousands of dollars.

If you're tired of writing essays and applying for scholarships, consider some of these colleges that offer complete financial aid packages .

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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Top 20 Best Writing Contests for High School Students

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By Jin Chow

Co-founder of Polygence, Forbes 30 Under 30 for Education

13 minute read

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Writing contests are a great way to focus on a topic that excites you, organize your thoughts, showcase your research and/or creativity, join a community, gain recognition, and even win cash, scholarships, and all-expenses-paid travel. The other nice thing about writing is that you can do it on your own time, and it doesn’t cost a dime. You can fit it around other summer activities or on weekends. You don’t need to win first place in these competitions to reap the benefits either. Many competitions offer all sorts of prizes at various levels, and you may get invaluable feedback from expert judges that will help you in your future writing projects–and, yes, winning looks great on college applications too!

We’ve organized this list of teenage writing contests alphabetically, by the hosting institution. It covers a broad swath of subjects, including: scientific research; persuasive essays; poetry; comics; and philosophical arguments.

Pro tip : Most of these competitions publish past winners on their websites. Read these winning entries to get inspired and to get a sense of the format, length, tone, and subject matter that’s considered winning material. It’s also just fascinating to read this great writing.

Want to work on a writing project but want feedback? Check out our Polygence mentors . Most of these competitions don’t mind if you polish your work with a mentor if the work and ideas behind your entry are your own.

Writing Contests for High School Students

As entry requirements, writing prompt availability (if applicable), application and submission deadlines, and judging criteria may change year to year, be sure to refer to the specific contest websites for those that catch your attention.

1. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose

Hosting institution: The Adroit Journal

Awards: $200

Writing prompt availability: n/a

Submission deadline: Mid-May

The submission guidelines for this writing contest are very nuanced; in short, you can send up to 5 “packets” of writing. Each “packet” can consist of either 6 poems or 3 prose pieces (fiction or creative nonfiction, and a total of 3,500 words combined). Winners and runners-up will be published in The Adroit Journal .

This contest is open to students internationally and winners are announced in mid-October. Each year, the contest features a different set of esteemed judges. Judges in 2023 were Natalie Diaz (poetry) and Ocean Vuong (prose). 

Note: this writing contest has a non-refundable $15 submission fee; students can apply for financial assistance if needed

2. National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Hosting institution: Alliance for Young Artists & Writers

Awards: Scholarships of up to $12,500

Submission deadline: December or January, depending on your region

The prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards has been around since 1923 and has an impressive list of past winners including Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, John Updike, and Sylvia Plath. There are 11 writing categories including humor, flash fiction, poetry, short stories, journalism, and more.

You may win at the regional level and then be automatically entered into the national contest. Winners at the national level are invited to attend a star-studded ceremony in New York City and your writing will be published in the annual anthology Best Teen Writing.

As timelines will vary based on your specific region and which writing contest you enter, the calendar on the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers site is a great resource for students to refer to for information about important dates and deadlines.

Learn more about Why You Should Apply for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards !

3. National High School Essay Contest

Hosting institutions: American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

1st: $2,500 and a paid trip to the nation’s capital from anywhere in the U.S. for the winner and his or her parents, plus an all-expense paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea

2nd: $1,250 and full tuition to National Student Leadership Conference’s International Diplomacy summer program

Writing prompt availability: Fall

Submission deadline: April 1, 2024

Every year, this essay contest invites high school students  to explore a topic that touches upon issues of peace building and the protection of national security. Your response to this prompt should be an essay of 1,000-1,500 words. Winning essays are also published on the website so you can see past topics and research.

You must be a U.S. high school student to participate and meet all eligibility requirements (e.g., your parents cannot be in the Foreign Service). It’s best to refer to AFSA’s site for the most up-to-date information about very specific writing contest rules and guidelines. The judging criteria include the quality of analysis, quality of research, form, style, and mechanics.

4. Young Writers Awards

Hosting institution: Bennington College

Awards: $500 (1st in each category), $250 (2nd in each category)

YWA winners who enroll at Bennington receive a $15,000 scholarship each year -  for a total of $60,000 

Submission deadline: Early November

Bennington College has quite a literary pedigree, with alumni that have garnered twelve Pulitzer Prize winners, three U.S. poet laureates, four MacArthur Geniuses, countless New York Times bestsellers, and two of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. In honor of its legacy, Bennington College started this contest to celebrate great writing by high school students.

You’re invited to submit writing in one of the following categories: poetry (3 poems), fiction (up to 1500 words), or nonfiction (up to 1500 words). All work must be reviewed, approved, and sponsored by a teacher. Homeschool students may use a mentor.

Express Your Creative Side

Interested in visual arts, music, or literature? We can match you with an expert mentor who will help you explore your creative streak!

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5. My Impact Challenge

Hosting institution: Bill of Rights Institute

Awards: Up to $10,000, with $40,000 in total prizes 

Writing prompt availability: n/a

Submission deadline: May 19, 2024

In this contest, a 1,200-word essay is part of a larger project that also includes a service project that you’ve completed along with a 2,000-word report detailing your inspiration, project plan, details of how you executed the plan, and how your understanding of civic virtue and your community grew as a result. Visual documentation of your project is also required. You’ll be judged on the impact your project had on the community, knowledge gained, originality, mechanics, and your understanding of civic virtue.

Get more information about the submission guidelines and judging rubric for My Impact Challenge on the Bill of Rights Institute website.

6. Ocean Awareness Contest

Hosting institution: Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs

Awards: Up to $1,000

Writing prompt availability: Early September

Submission deadline: June 10, 2024

This international writing contest was created to raise awareness about environmental issues through creative communication. Students aged 11 through 18 are eligible to participate.

The prompt for 2023 involved thinking about climate change and posing possible solutions for the climate crisis. The idea is to move beyond the bad news and celebrate the work that is being done by countless “climate heroes”—the scientists, activists, artists, and educators striving to make our world more habitable.

The writing prompt for the 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest is Tell Your Climate Story . Your submission can take the form of creative writing, film, interactive and multimedia, poetry, and spoken word.

The Ocean Awareness Contest FAQs on the Bow Seat site are an excellent resource to find out more specific information about how to participate in this writing competition.

7. Essay Contest

Hosting institution: Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA)

Awards: $1,000 scholarship + free trip to conference (1st), $500 scholarship (2nd), $250 scholarship (3rd)

Writing prompt availability:  Currently Available

Submission deadline: June 1, 2024

If you love Jane Austen novels, you must enter this contest! Each year, JASNA asks students from all around the world to think about a topic inspired by a work by Jane Austen and how this topic reflects on our culture today. The 2023 JASNA Essay Contest topic was about marriages and proposals , as inspired by the theme in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The 2024 JASNA Essay Contest topic will be announced in November 2023. Your original insights and clear, correct writing should then take the form of a 6-8 page essay written in English. Past essay winners are published on the website.

8. Profile in Courage Essay Contest by JFK Presidential Library

Hosting institution: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Awards: $10,000 (1st), $3,000 (2nd), $1,000 (five other finalists), $100 (eight semifinalists)

Writing prompt availability: Available Now

Submission deadline: January 12, 2024

Inspired by JFK's book, Profiles in Courage, this writing contest invites you to describe and analyze an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official serving after JFK was born (1917). Essays must be between 700 and 1,000 words and include a minimum of five sources. Judges are looking for originality, supporting evidence, source material, high-quality writing, and organization. They also want to see evidence that you understand the meaning of political courage.

Note: students must provide the name of a nominating teacher on their registration form, so make sure you coordinate with an educator who can serve in that capacity. Refer to the Profile in Courage Essay Contest eligibility requirements for more information.

9. John Locke Essay Competition

Hosting institution: John Locke Institute

Awards: Awards: $2,000 scholarship (for 1st in each of the 8 categories)

Application deadline: Late May

Submission deadline: Late June

Ready to think deep thoughts? This contest gives you the chance to refine your skills in argumentation (e.g,, independent insights, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis, and rhetoric) and have your work assessed by experts. You can choose from 1 of 3 challenging questions posed in 7 different categories (Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology, and Law) in the form of a 2,000-word (max) essay. There’s also a junior category for students who are under age 15 (i.e., 14 or younger).

Your entry will be judged by a panel of Oxford and Princeton faculty. Winning essays are posted on the John Locke Institute website , and you can check out the fascinating archive.

Read our blog post, Everything You Should Know about the John Locke Institute Essay Competition to learn more about this writing contest!

10. High School Poetry Prize and Ten-Minute Play Contest

Hosting institution: Lewis Center for the Arts - Princeton University

Poetry: $1,500 (1st), $750 (2nd), $500 (3rd)

Play: $500 (1st), $250 (2nd), $100 (3rd)

Writing prompt availability: Late October (Poetry)

Submission deadlines:

Poetry: Late November

Play: April 1, 2024

Princeton University has two writing contests that are open to 11th grade students and it is possible to enter both of them:

Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize : students may submit up to three poems and it is okay if they have also been submitted to other writing contests

Ten-Minute Play Contest : submissions are limited to one play per student

Entries for both contests are judged by Princeton faculty.

11. EngineerGirl Writing Contest

Hosting institution: National Academy of Engineering

Awards: $500 (1st), $250 (2nd), $100 (3rd)

Writing prompt availability: September

Submission deadline: Early February

This essay contest features a new writing prompt every year dealing with engineering’s impact on the world. The 2023 contest focused on diversity in engineering and how that might future design solutions . The prompt for the 2024 EngineerGirl Writing Contest is The Secret Life of Everyday Items . High school students are limited to 750 words and must cite anywhere from 3-10 resources. Winning and honorable mention entries are published on the website.

12. Achievement Awards in Writing

Hosting institution: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Awards: First-class awards will be published on the NCTE website

Writing prompt availability: August

Submission deadline: February 15, 2024

Each year, the National Council of Teachers of English posts a thought-provoking prompt and participants in 10th and 11th grades are welcome to respond in up to 10 pages. 

The writing prompt for the 2023 contest was based on Malala Yousafzai’s address to the United Nations; the prompt for 2024 comes from Michele Obama’s book, Becoming:

“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you'll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

Writing contest entries are not limited to informative or persuasive essays. They can also take the form of a research report, a personal narrative, a fictional story, a series of poems, a photo essay, or a comic or graphic narrative.

Other NCTE Writing Contests for Students

Promising Young Writers

Open to 8th graders

Submission deadline is mid-February

National Writing Award: The Humanities and a Freer Tomorrow - in partnership with the National Humanities Alliance

Open to 11th and 12th graders

Submission deadline is late October

13. YoungArts Writing Competition

Hosting institution: The National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists

Awards: Prizes up to $10,000, Entry to National YoungArtsWeek, Presidential Scholar In the Arts designation, grants and funding, residency opportunities

Writing prompt availability: June 2024

Submission deadline: Mid-October

This multidisciplinary competition has entry categories across 10 disciplines. Writing is one of them, and you may submit your writing in the form of creative nonfiction, novel, play or script, poetry, short story, or spoken word. To be eligible to apply you must be a U.S. sophomore, junior, or senior. The website features a great section with tips and testimonials from past winners and guest artists. Awards are not simply cash-based. Entry into this organization connects you to a lifelong network and access to master artists.

14. Creative Writing Scholarship

Hosting institution: National Society of High School Scholars

Awards: $2,000 prize (3 given out for fiction and 3 given out for poetry)

Writing prompt availability: Early May

Submission deadline: Early October

You can enter this contest in the fiction or poetry category, or both. Fiction must be no more than 5,000 words. Your poem must appear as you would like for it to be published. Judging criteria include creativity, technique, expression, and originality. In addition to your writing, you’ll need to submit a recommendation from a teacher, a school transcript, an academic resume, and a photo of yourself.

15. Young Lions Fiction Award

Hosting institution: New York Public Library

Three (3) $2,000 awards for the Fiction category

Three (3) $2,000 awards for the Poetry category

Submission deadline: Early September

The Young Lions Fiction Award was started by Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, Rick Moody, and Hannah McFarland as a safety net and support system for young writers. You must be 35 or younger to submit your work for consideration. The catch with this particular contest is that your submission must be in the form of a published novel or collection of short stories that was published within the year of the contest– galley proof is an acceptable format.

As most high school students won’t have a published book to submit, this contest is a bit of a stretch–it’s generally geared toward young writers in their 20s and 30s. That said, if you have published a book, this is an amazing opportunity and it is a very prestigious distinction to be among the five finalists.

16. Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder / Sense of the Wild Contest

Hosting institution: Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance

Awards: Publication on the contest website

Submission deadline: Mid-November

Unlike the other writing contests listed here, this writing submission is meant to be co authored by you and at least one older adult. This could be your parent, grandparent, teacher, neighbor, mentor, etc. The idea is that you and your coauthor are from two different generations and that will inspire both of you to look at nature differently. You can choose to write about 1 of 2 themes and you can also choose to write it as an essay or as a poem. (Either can have up to 500 words). You may also include an original photograph with your entry.

Work with an expert mentor to explore your passion

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17. High School Essay Contest

Hosting institutions: The Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association

Awards: $1,000 scholarship (1st), $500 scholarship (2nd), $300 scholarship (3rd)

Submission deadline: Feb. 19, 2024

Raising awareness of the importance of independent media in our lives is the key goal of this contest. The topic for 2023 was “While consumers are drawn toward tweets and sound bites, how can journalists tell more of the story without losing readers’ interest?” U.S. high school students in grades 9 through 12 are invited to respond to this prompt with an essay of 300-500 words.

The judging criteria include: adherence to the topic and a logical interpretation of the subject (40 pts); vocabulary and style (30 pts); grammar (20 points); neatness (5 pts); and proper format (5 pts).

18. Voice of Democracy

Hosting institution: Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

Awards: $35,000 college scholarship (grand prize); $1,000-$21,000 (other national scholarships); $1,000 (each state winner)

Submission deadline: Late October

This audio-essay contest was created in 1947 to promote patriotism for our U.S. democracy. High school students are invited to express their patriotism via a recorded speech. Each year students win $1.3 million in educational scholarships and incentives from this VFW contest. The 2023-24 prompt is: “What are the greatest attributes of our democracy?”

Students will write and record their essay response. (The audio file should be 3-5 minutes long.) The judging criteria include originality (30 pts), organization and flow (35 pts), and speech delivery (35 pts). You submit your audio file and written essay to your local VFW Post, which you can find on the VFW site we link to above.

Patriot’s Pen

VFW has a writing contest for students in sixth through eighth grade, called Patriot’s Pen . The 2023-24 prompt for this contest is: “How are you inspired by America?”

19. World Historian Student Essay Competition

Hosting institution: World History Organization

Awards: $500

Writing prompt availability: n/a 

Submission deadline: May 1st, 2024

Open to all students internationally (grades K-12), this contest provides a prompt based on world history education and how it impacts you. The prompt for 2023 asks you to think about a family story related to a historical event or your family’s cultural background. Your response must be an essay of approximately 1,000 words. Judging criteria include a clear thesis, concrete supporting examples, evidence of synthesis and evaluation, and organization. They are also looking at your overall ability to communicate how a better understanding of world history has changed you.

20. New Voices One-Act Competition

Hosting institution: YouthPLAYS

Awards: $250 and publication in YouthPLAYS (1st), $100 (runner-up)

Writing prompt availability: Early January

Submission deadline: May 1, 2024

This contest accepts any unpublished, non-musical one-act play from anyone under age 19. Your play must be between 10-14 minutes in length (a read-through before you submit is recommended) and at least 10 pages long. The play should be suitable for a school production and should ideally feature youth characters in age-appropriate roles. Your cast must also have two or more characters and more female roles are encouraged.

How Students Can Benefit From Participating in Writing Competitions

Writing competitions offer high school students a unique opportunity to showcase their skills, gain recognition, and enhance their college admissions prospects. Here are 10 ways writing contests can make a positive impact and be beneficial for student participants:

1. Demonstrating your commitment to writing

When you actively engage in writing competitions, you demonstrate your passion and commitment to the craft. Admissions officers appreciate applicants who have pursued their interests with dedication.

2. Showcasing your skills

Writing contests allow you to showcase your writing skills , whether it's in the form of essays, poetry, or other creative works. High-quality submissions can impress admissions committees.

3. Building a strong portfolio

Over time, your participation in various writing competitions can help you build a diverse and impressive writing portfolio. This portfolio can be submitted as part of your college application to highlight your talents .

4. Gaining recognition

Winning or even being recognized as a finalist in a prestigious writing contest can significantly boost your application. Admissions officers are more likely to take notice of applicants with such accomplishments.

5. Differentiating yourself

In a competitive admissions landscape, it's essential to stand out from the crowd. Participation in writing competitions sets you apart and adds a unique dimension to your application.

6. Highlighting your interests

Writing competitions can be a reflection of your academic and personal interests. They show that you are intellectually curious and proactive in pursuing your passions .

7. Earning scholarships and awards

Many writing contests offer cash prizes or scholarships as rewards. These can help offset the cost of your education, making you a more attractive candidate to colleges.

8. Receiving Expert Feedback

Writing competitions often involve evaluation by expert judges. Constructive feedback from these judges can help you improve your writing skills, which is valuable both academically and in your application essays .

9. Enhancing Your Writing Abilities

Regularly participating in writing contests hones your writing abilities, making you a more effective communicator. This skill is beneficial for college coursework and beyond.

10. Reflecting On Personal Growth

As you participate in writing competitions, you may explore new topics and perspectives. This growth as a writer and thinker is something you can discuss in your application essays.

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15 Writing Competitions for High School Students

Whichever field you’re passionate about, being able to write well can help you make an impact. Be it in research, for a college application, in an assignment, or simply to express yourself, writing is essential to communicating your thoughts. The ability to write well can set you apart! This is why every year, organizations around the world host competitions to celebrate this skill in students. Participating in and doing well at these competitions does more than just make your college application look good - several writing competitions also offer the chance to win cash prizes and scholarships to summer programs! Writing contests often offer multiple levels of recognition, so you do not have to be the top winner to earn a title that will recognize your work and look good on applications! In this article, we bring to you 15 writing contests that offer high school students the chance to showcase their talent, and exercise their creativity through writing.

Here are 15 Writing Competitions for High School Students:

1. National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards

The National Council of Teachers of English hosts these awards every year to encourage high school students who write. Students submit one themed essay based on a specified prompt and one composition in any genre of their choice which displays their best work. A certificate and a letter are given to students who are assessed to have exceptional writing skills. Their names can be seen on the NCTE website as well. Juniors in high school who have been nominated by their English department are eligible to compete.

2. National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

This contest accepts entries in a variety of genres, including critical essays, dramatic screenplays, flash fiction, personal essays, and short stories, and begins regionally and advances to the national level.

Regional competitions are held by local organizations, and the winners are sent to the national level for consideration. There is a $5 per entry or $20 per portfolio submission charge, however it can be waived for those who apply and meet the criteria for financial aid.

Students get Honorable Mentions, Silver or Gold Keys, or Nominations for the American Visions and Voices Medals at the regional level. Gold and Silver Medals, as well as the American Visions and Voices Medal, which acts as a "Best in Show" award for each region, are awarded to regional Gold Key winners. National award winners are invited to Carnegie Hall in New York City for a National Ceremony and Celebration. At the national level, there are various sponsored monetary rewards that vary by genre and sponsor, and certain National Medal winners will also be picked for college scholarships or summer programs.

Students in grades 7 through 12 in the United States are able to participate.

3. Princeton University Contests

Princeton University hosts two contests for high school juniors. One is a poetry contest judged by members of the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty. The other is a Ten-Minute Play Contest judged by members of the Princeton University Program in Theater faculty. Each contest has a first place prize of $500, second place prize of $250, and third place prize of $100.

4. The Bennington Young Writers Awards

This tournament is open to students in grades 10 through 12, and the judging panel includes faculty and students from Bennington College. Seven Pulitzer Prize winners, three US poet laureates, and a slew of New York Times bestsellers are among the college's graduates. Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction are all acceptable forms of submission (personal and academic essays). Each category's first-place winner receives $500, while second-place winners receive $250.

5. YoungArts

In 1981, the National YoungArts Foundation was established with the goal of identifying and supporting the next generation of artists in the artistic, literary, and performing arts. Each year, thousands of students apply, and the winners are selected to attend weeklong programs in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. Students participate in workshops with master artists as part of these programs. A $35 application fee is required, however cost exemptions are available for those who qualify. Honorable Mentions from each region are asked to attend regional workshops. Finalists are invited to National YoungArts Week, where they will have the opportunity to meet with the judges and compete for cash prizes of up to $10,000. Finalists are also eligible for a nomination as a US Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Students in grades 10th to 12th are eligible to apply.

good writing competitions for high school students

6. AFSA's National High School Essay Contest

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) collaborate to host this annual contest, which aims to "engage high school students in learning and writing about issues of peace and conflict, encouraging appreciation for diplomacy's role in building partnerships that can advance peacebuilding and protect national security." One winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., and a full scholarship to the Semester at Sea Program for one semester upon admission at an accredited university. One runner-up will receive a cash reward of $1,250 as well as a full scholarship to the National Student Leadership Conference's International Diplomacy Program. Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate if they are in grades nine through twelve in the USA.

7. We the Students Essay Contest by Bill of Rights Institute

This essay contest, sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, encourages students to think critically and creatively about people's rights and how they affect society. One grand prize winner will earn $5,000 in addition to a Constitutional Academy scholarship. Six runners-up will each receive $1,250, and eight honorable mentions will each receive $500. Citizens or legal residents of the United States between the ages of 14 and 19 are eligible.

8. Profile in Courage Essay Contest by JFK Presidential Library

This competition is based on JFK's book Profiles in Courage, which told the tales of eight U.S. senators who showed political courage by standing up for a larger good while sacrificing their careers in the process. Entrants must describe and analyze an act of political courage in the form of a similar profile for the competition. The first-place reward is $20,000 in this competition. Twenty-five smaller cash prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000 are also available.

The competition is open to high school students in the United States in grades nine through twelve.

9. VFW Voice of Democracy

Our Voice of Democracy audio-essay program, which began in 1947, gives high school students the opportunity to express themselves through a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Nearly 64,500 school kids from grades 9 to 12 from across the country join each year, for a chance to earn a piece of the more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives provided via the program. All student entries must be submitted to a local VFW Post that is supporting the event. Students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible to compete. 10. SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest

This contest, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association, urges students to consider the role of the press in American society. Essays should be between 300 and 500 words long.

The first-place winner receives a $1,000 scholarship, second-place receives $500, and third-place receives $300. The competition is accessible to students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States. The registration fee for the competition is $5.

11. Jane Austen Society Essay Contest

High school students can win up to $1,000 by entering an essay on a specified topic related to Jane Austen novels. In addition, each winner will receive a year of membership to the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) and a collection of Norton Critical Editions of Jane Austen's novels. The winning pieces appear on the JASNA website as well. The theme of the 2022 Essay Contest is based on Jane Austen's first published novel, Sense & Sensibility. Students from all around the world are welcome to enter, however all contributions must be written in English.

good writing competitions for high school students

12. Engineer Girl Annual Essay Contest

Engineer Girl hosts an essay contest every year that focuses on the impact of engineering on the world. Prize money of up to $500 is available to students. This competition is a great way to combine English language writing with STEM research. Students can send in their submissions via the internet. The contest is open to individual girls and boys in the following three competition categories: Elementary School students (grades 3-5), Middle School students (grades 6-8), or High School students (grades 9-12). The word limit for submissions varies depending on the grade level.

13. Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder / Sense of the Wild Contest

Entries for this writing contest must be submitted by a team, consisting of at least two people, representing different generations (for example, a student and a teacher or a teenager and her grandmother). Submission categories include poetry and essays, along with optional photographic elements. Annual topics for the contest are tied to nature. Winners receive a certificate from the Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance, and have their winning entry posted on the RCLA website.

14. World Historian Student Essay Competition

The World Historian Student Essay Competition is an international competition open to students enrolled in grades K–12. Winners receive $500 and a one year membership in the World History Association. Each competitor submits an essay that addresses the issue: "In what way has the study of world history affected my understanding of the world in which I live?"

15. John Locke Essay Competition

The John Locke Essay Competition is hosted by the John Locke Institute, a non-profit educational organization based in Oxford, United Kingdom. The John Locke Institute promotes young people to develop the qualities that make great writers: independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis, and persuasive style. Senior professors from the University of Oxford assess the submissions. The judges select their favourite essay from each subject group, as well as an overall "best essay" from all seven subjects.

Bonus entry: Atlas Shrugged novel Essay Contest

The Atlas Shrugged novel essay contest is open to all students globally. Atlas Shrugged is a heroic mystery novel written by Ayn Rand. Choose a prompt and write an 800-1,600 word essay in English. First prize: $10,000; 3 second prizes: $2,000; 5 third prizes: $1,000; 25 finalists: $100; 50 semifinalists: $50. Entry is free!

Learn the art of academic writing with the Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in a selective, structured research program, consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program , a selective online high school program for students founded by Harvard and Oxford researchers. The program pairs you with a full-time researcher to develop your own independent research project, in any discipline of your choice. Last year over 1500 students applied to 500 slots in the research program! You can find the application form here.

90+ Writing Competitions That Are Open to High School Students

good writing competitions for high school students

In a world where creativity and expression are increasingly valued, writing competitions offer a unique platform for writers of all ages and genres to showcase their talent, share their perspectives, and gain recognition. From aspiring young poets to seasoned essayists, all writers can find in these competitions an array of opportunities to challenge themselves, refine their skills, and potentially earn significant awards and scholarships.

This comprehensive guide covers a wide range of writing competitions, each with its own set of rules, genres, and prizes. Whether you are a student looking to explore your creative side, a young adult with a passion for storytelling, or someone who simply enjoys the art of writing, these contests offer something for everyone.

Spanning genres such as poetry, prose, essays, and even civics projects, these competitions cater to a diverse array of interests and skills. With eligible ages ranging from elementary school children to young adults, each contest provides a platform for different age groups to express their creativity and vie for attractive prizes ranging from cash awards to prestigious scholarships.

Among these competitions, you’ll find the Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose, National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and many more, each with its unique focus and rewards. The prizes offered range from monetary awards to scholarships and publication opportunities, providing both motivation and recognition for young writers.

Dive into this guide to explore the wide range of available writing competitions, find the ones that resonate with your interests and talents, and seize the opportunity to showcase your writing prowess.

Achievement Awards in Writing

Genre(s): Themed Writing

Eligible ages: 16–18

Prize(s): Recognition

The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose

Genre(s): Poetry and Prose

Eligible ages: All ages

Prize(s): $200

Alabama Writers’ Forum: High School Literary Arts Awards Competition

Genre(s): Nonfiction/Fiction Essay and Poetry

Eligible ages: 14–18

Prize(s):  

Creative Nonfiction/Long Essay:

First place ($150), second place ($75), third place ($50)

Creative Nonfiction/Short Essay:

Up to 3 awards of $50 each

American Society of Human Genetics: Annual DNA Day Essay Contest

Genre(s): Essay

Prize(s): First prize is $1,000, second prize is $600, third prize is $400, and honorable mention is $100.

Austin Poets International Presents: Youth Anthology

Genre(s): Poetry 

Eligible ages: 18 or younger

Prize(s): Winner receives an electronic copy of the anthology and is invited to read their poem at the Youth Anthology Launch during the festival.

Ayn Rand Anthem  and The Fountainhead  Essay Contests

Genre(s): Essays

Prize(s): Anthem  prize is $2,000, and The Fountainhead  prize is $5,000.

Baltimore Center Stage: Young Playwrights Festival

Genre(s): TBD

Prize(s): Each year, up to six plays are chosen to receive a professional  production produced by Baltimore Center Stage.

Bennington College Young Writers Awards

Genre(s): Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction

Prize(s): First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $1,000, second-place winners receive $500, and third-place winners receive $250.

The Black River Chapbook Competition

Genre(s): Poetry and Prose 

Prize(s): Book publication, a $500 cash award, and ten copies of the book

The Blank Theatre Young Playwright’s Festival

Genre(s): All genres

Eligible ages: 19 or younger

Prize(s): Winning plays will be mentored, directed, and performed by professional artists.

Brooklyn Public Library: Teen Writing Contest & Ned Vizzini Teen Writing Prize

Eligible ages: 11–18

Prize(s): Winners in poetry and prose will receive the new Ned Vizzini Teen Writing Prize with a cash award and have their pieces published in the Teen Writing Journal  distributed by the library.

California Coastal Commission: K–12 Coastal Art & Poetry Contest

Genre(s): Poetry (all forms)

Prize(s): Winners receive $100 gift cards to an art supply store or bookstore.

California Young Playwrights Contest

Genre(s): Playwriting

Prize(s): Winners will have their plays produced live as part of our annual festival of Plays by Young Writers in 2025.

Capital Repertory Theatre – Collaborative School of the Arts: Young Playwright Contest

Eligible ages: 13–19

Prize(s): Public reading of play, series of workshops led by professionals in the field, and professional production of plays

Chapman University: Annual Holocaust Art & Writing Contest

Prize(s): For students, first prize is $400, and second prize is $200; for educators, first prize is $200, and second prize is $100.

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame: Randall Albers Young Writers Award

Prize(s): First prize is $250, second prize is $150, third prize is $100, and fourth prize is $50.

City Theatre Company: Young Playwrights Contest

Eligible ages: 12–18

Prize(s): Play produced

Columbia College Chicago: The Young Authors Writing Competition

Genre(s): Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Poetry

Prize(s): Cash prizes and recognition

Columbus State University: The Carson McCullers Literary Awards

Genre(s): Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Expository Essay, Playwriting, and Screenwriting

Prize(s): $300 for first place in each of those categories, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place.

EngineerGirl Writing Contest

Eligible ages: 8–18

Prize(s): First-place winner receives $1,000, second-place winner receives $750, and third-place winner receives $500.

Eugene O’Neill Theater Center: Young Playwrights Festival

Prize(s): Students whose plays are selected for the festival get to work with a creative team composed of National Theater Institute alumni—a director, dramaturg, designer, and actors—to develop and stage their scripts.

Fleet Reserve Association: Americanism Essay Contest

Prize(s): Grand national prize is $1,500, first place is $1,000, second place is $750, and third place is $500

Future Problem-Solving Program International: Scenario Writing Competition

Genre(s): Creative Writing (Short Story)

Eligible ages: 9–18

Prize(s): Winners are eligible to compete in the Scenario Writing Competition at the annual International Conference.

Gannon University National High School Poetry Contest

Prize(s): Winners will receive a monetary award, a book, and publication in the Gannon Writing Awards program.

Haiku Society of America: Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition

Genre(s): Poetry (Haiku and Senryu)

Prize(s): Winners will be awarded a cash prize of $100 and be featured on the Haiku Society of America’s website and in its journal Frogpond .

Harvard Crimson: Global Essay Competition

Genre(s): Creative, Persuasive, or Journalistic Essay

Eligible ages: 13–18

Prize(s): Winners receive prizes such as internships with The Harvard Crimson  and having their work featured on the official Harvard Crimson Global Essay Competition (HCGEC) website.

Harvard International Economics Essay Contest

Prize(s): Winning essays will be published in the Harvard Economics Review , and the top three winners will be published online, with a further 20 receiving the honor of “Highly Commended.”

High School Poetry Prize and Ten-Minute Play Contest

Prize(s): First prize is $1,500, second prize is $750, and third prize is $500.

Hollins University: The Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

Eligible ages: 14–17

Prize(s): First prize is a $350 cash prize, publication in Cargoes , ten copies of Cargoes , and a scholarship up to $5,000; second prize is publication in Cargoes , two copies of Cargoes , and a scholarship up to $1,000.

Horizon Theatre Company: New South Young Players Festival

Eligible ages: 24 or younger

“I Matter” Poetry & Art Competition

Prize(s): $500

Interlochen Center for the Arts: Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship Competition

Genre(s): Poetry, Fiction, Essay, Screenwriting, Playwriting, Hybrid, Experimental/Unclassifiable Writing, and Comics

Eligible ages: 13–17

Prize(s): Full-tuition scholarship to study creative writing at Interlochen Arts Academy

Interlochen Review – Arts, Writing, Playwriting and Songwriting Submissions

Genre(s): Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Poetry 

Prize(s): Full-tuition scholarship to attend Interlochen Arts Academy as a creative writing major

Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Prize(s): First prize is a $1,000 scholarship, second prize is a $500 scholarship, and third prize is a $250 scholarship.

John Locke Essay Competition

Prize(s): $2,000–$10,000 scholarship

Kenyon Review: The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

Prize(s): Winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, and the winning poem and the poems of the two runners-up will be published in The Kenyon Review .

KET Education Young Writers Contest 

Genre(s): Illustrated Story, Graphic Novel, Poetry, and Short Story

Prize(s): First place receives a $100 gift card, second place receives a $50 gift card, and third place receives a $25 gift card. Winning works will also be published online.

Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation: Bluefire “$1000 for 1000 Words” Fiction Writing Contest

Genre(s): Fiction 

Prize(s): Two $1,000 cash grand prizes will be awarded, one for Grades 6–8 and one for Grades 9–12. Seven $100 cash prizes will also be awarded for winning entries, one per grade level.

Michigan State University Center for Poetry: Richard Benvenuto High School Poetry Competition

My Impact Challenge

Genre(s): Civics Project

Prize(s): $40,000 in prizes

National Center for State Courts: Civics Education Essay Contest

Prize(s): Nine winners will receive cash prizes totaling $3,000 and the publication of their essays on the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) website.

National Genealogical Society: Rubincam Youth Writing Competition

Prize(s): Junior prize is $250, and senior prize is $500.

National High School Essay Contest

Prize(s): $2,500

National PTA Reflections Awards

Genre(s): Literature

Prize(s): Cash prize, certificate of merit, and a scholarship

National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Genre(s): Essay, Drama, Flash Fiction, Journalism, Humor, Novel Writing, Poetry, Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Short Story

Prize(s): Scholarships of up to $12,500

National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR): George S. and Stella M. Knight Essay Contest

Prize(s): Prizes range from $6,000 for first place to $500 for fifth place. The winning essay will be published in the SAR Magazine  and on the SAR or State Knight Essay Contest webpage.

Naval Horizons Essay Contest

Prize(s): Each winner receives a $200 cash prize.

New Voices One-Act Competition

Genre(s): Plays

NSHSS Creative Writing Scholarship

Genre(s): Fiction and Poetry

Prize(s): Three (3) $2,000 awards for the Fiction category and three (3) $2,000 awards for the Poetry category

Ocean Awareness Contest

Genre(s): Poetry & Spoken Word, Creative Writing

Prize(s): Up to $1,000

One Teen Story  Teen Writing Contest

Genre(s): Fiction

Prize(s): Winners will receive $500 upon publication and 25 copies of the magazine featuring their work. They will also have the opportunity to work with a One Teen Story  editor prior to publication.

Optimum/Suddenlink Hispanic Heritage Essay Contest

Prize(s): There are separate prizes for middle- and high-school categories, and grand prize finalists will receive $1,500 scholarships.

Penguin Random House: Creative Writing Awards

Genre(s): Poetry, Essay, Fiction/Drama, and Spoken Word

Eligible ages: 17–18

Prize(s): College scholarships of up to $10,000 each to five public U.S. high school seniors

Philadelphia Young Playwrights Annual Playwriting Festival

Genre(s): Playwriting/Screenwriting

Eligible ages: 15–18

Prize(s): Access to participate in virtual professional development activities provided by the Kennedy Center

PlayGround Young Playwrights Contest

Prize(s): The top four playwrights receive a professionally staged reading of their play at the PlayGround Festival of New Works at Potrero Stage.

Poetry Society: The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

Eligible ages: 11–17

Prize(s): All 100 winners will be invited to a prestigious awards ceremony in London and receive a Youth Membership to the Poetry Society. The top 15 winners will have their poems printed in the winners’ print anthology. All 100 winners benefit from ongoing support and encouragement from the Poetry Society via publication.

Polyphony Lit Latin Heritage Contest

Genre(s): Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry

Prize(s): Winners receive the following: (1) the Polyphony Lit Writing Award (no cash value); (2) publication in the journal; (3) full scholarships for Polyphony’s editor training course; and (4) eligibility for the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards ($200).

Polyphony Literary Magazine Writing Contests

Prize(s): Polyphony Lit Writing Award and a full scholarship for Polyphony’s editor training course

Profile in Courage Essay Contest by JFK Presidential Library

Prize(s): First prize is $10,000, second prize is $3,000, five finalists receive $1,000 each, and ten semi-finalists receive $100 each.

Pulitzer Center: Fighting Words Poetry Contest

Genre(s): Poetry (all written forms)

Prize(s): First place is $300, second place is $200, and third place is $100. Finalists will receive $75 each. All poems will be published on the Pulitzer Center website.

Rattle Young Poets Anthology

Prize(s): $15,000

Rider University: Annual High School Writing Contest

Genre(s): Poetry, Essay, and Short Story

Prize(s): $100 prize for each category. All finalists will receive a certificate of honorable mention and will be considered for publication in Venture , Rider’s literary magazine.

Ringling College of Art and Design

Genre(s): Genre Stories, Literary Stories, and Nonfiction

Prize(s): First prize is $500, a 1:1 consultation about your writing with a literary agent or editor, an iPad for each winner’s high school writing teacher, and a Ringling College creative writing T-shirt; second prize is $100 and a Ringling College creative writing T-shirt; and third prize is $50 and a Ringling College creative writing T-shirt.

Roadrunner Review: High School Writing Contest

Genre(s): Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

Prize(s): $100

Saint Mary’s College of California River of Words Contest

Genre(s): Poetry

Eligible ages: 5–19

See Us, Support Us Art Contest

Prize(s): Up to $100

Smith College: High School Poetry Prize for Girls

Eligible ages: 14–17 (females)

Society of Classical Poets: International High School Poetry Competition

Prize(s): $200 and publication on the Society’s website and in The Society of Classical Poets Journal

Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association High School Essay Contest

Prize(s): First prize is a $1,000 scholarship, second prize is a $500 scholarship, and third prize is a $300 scholarship.

State of Florida Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest

Prize(s): Each winner receives a two-year Florida College Plan scholarship and a $100 gift card for school supplies.

Stossel in the Classroom Essay Contest

Eligible ages: 10–18

Prize(s): Prizes range from $50–$2,500

Syracuse Stage: Young Playwrights Festival

Prize(s): Semifinalists attend a workshop where their plays are read and critiqued, and finalists have their plays performed as staged readings by Syracuse University drama students.

Prize(s): $25 gift card

The Telling Room Writing Contest

Genre(s): Poetry, Prose, Fiction, Nonfiction, Screenwriting, Playwriting, and Songwriting

Eligible ages: 6–8

Prize(s): Grand prize winner will receive a $250 award and will be published in our spring anthology. Each county winner will receive a $50 award.

Thea Foundation Creative Writing and Spoken Word Scholarship Competitions

Genre(s): Fictional Short Story, Prose, and Poetry

Prize(s): Scholarship

Theatre Odyssey: Annual Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival

Prize(s): Up to eight plays will be selected for production, and the best play and runner-up will receive cash scholarships of $1,000 and $500, respectively.

Trinity Rep: Write Here! Write Now – Student Playwriting Competition

Prize(s): Staged reading of play by professional actors, a scholarship, and 20 free tickets to a Project Discovery student matinee

Voice of Democracy

Genre(s): Essay 

Prize(s): $35,000 scholarship

VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competitions

Eligible ages: 14–19

Prize(s): Winners will receive access to participate in professional-development activities provided by the Kennedy Center. Winners will work with industry professionals in further development of their own script as well as participating in networking opportunities.

Walgreens Expressions Challenge: Creative Writing

Genre(s): Spoken Word, Visual Arts, Media Arts, and Creative Writing

Prize(s): First place receives $2,000, second place receives $1,750, and third place receives $1,500.

We the Students Essay Contest by Bill of Rights Institute

Prize(s): $7,500 and a scholarship

Western Kentucky University English High School Writing Contests

Genre(s): Literature, Composition, and Creative Writing 

Prize(s): First prize is $150, second prize is $100, and third prize is $50.

Wharton Center for Performing Arts: Young Playwrights Festival

Prize(s): $200 cash award and production of play

William Faulkner Literary Competition

Genre(s): Short Story

Prize(s): First prize is $250, second prize is $150, and third prize is $100.

World Historian Student Essay Competition

Write the World Competitions

Genre(s): Poetry, Fantasy, Sports Journalism, and Flash Fiction

Prize(s): The winning entrant receives $100, and the runner-up and best peer reviewer receive $50 each.

Writopia Lab’s Worldwide Plays Festival

Eligible ages: 6–18

YoungArts Writing Competition

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Novel, Play or Script, Poetry, Short Story, and Spoken Word

Prize(s): $50,000 scholarship

Young Lions Fiction Award

Genre(s): Novel and Short Stories

Eligible ages: 35 or younger

Prize(s): $10,000

Youth Communication: Teen Writing Contest

Prize(s): Each contest awards three winners with prizes of $150 (first prize), $75 (second prize), and $50 (third prize), and winning letters are published on the contest’s website.

Youth Poet Laureate National

Prize(s): Winners will be named as finalists for the National Youth Poet Laureate title. Regional youth poet laureates will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to perform at the National Youth Poet Laureate commencement; an artwork/poster featuring their likeness and poetry; an all-expenses-paid writing retreat; and numerous workshops, trainings, and professional development opportunities.

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The Best Writing Contests of 2024

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

  • Children's
  • Flash Fiction

Non-fiction

  • Science Fiction
  • Science Writing
  • Script Writing
  • Short Story
  • Young Adult

Manage a competition? Submit it here

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Showing 320 contests

The reedsy prompts contest.

Every Friday, Reedsy sends out five writing prompts. Enter your response within a week for a chance at $250. Winners may also be included in a future issue of Reedsy’s literary magazine, Prompted.

Additional prizes

$25 credit toward Reedsy editorial services

Entry requirements

Deadline: December 31, 2023 (Expired)

Fiction, Short Story

Anthology Nature Writing Competition 2024

Anthology Magazine

The Anthology Nature Writing Competition is created to celebrate the beauty of the natural world, inspire literary excellence and encourage Anthology’s readers to explore the great outdoors. Whether it’s the wonder of life right in your own garden, an encounter with wildlife, the serenity of a forest, a reflection on environmental challenges, or the healing power of nature, we welcome your stories.

Publication

Deadline: September 30, 2024

Anthology Personal Memoir Competition 2024

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Authors are invited to share a unique life experience. Whether your memoir recounts a transformative journey, a poignant moment, or a life-altering event, we welcome your story. The Anthology Personal Memoir Competition is open to original and previously unpublished memoirs in the English language by writers of any nationality, living anywhere in the world.

Deadline: August 31, 2024

Anthology Travel Writing Competition 2024

The Anthology Travel Writing Competition is open to original and previously unpublished travel articles in the English language by writers of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. We are looking for an engaging article that will capture the reader’s attention, conveying a strong sense of the destination and the local culture. Max 1000 words.

Deadline: November 30, 2024

Essay, Non-fiction, Travel

Anthology Flash Fiction Award

The Anthology Flash Fiction Competition is open to original and previously unpublished flash fiction on any theme in the English language by writers of any nationality. We are looking for writing that is clever and unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling story. Max 250 words.

Fiction, Short Story, Flash Fiction

Ironclad Creative Short Story Competition

Ironclad Creative CIC

We are looking for short stories that respond in any way to: 7:12am. You can use that in the text, as a theme, or any way you want. We accept any prose genre and any length of story up to 6k words. We’re looking for writers who have exciting voices and can move us - that can happen in any genre of prose. We’re not accepting plays or poetry for this competition.

2nd: £50 | 3rd & 4th: £25 | 10 short-listed entries: publication

Deadline: April 30, 2024

Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novella, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller

International Voices in Creative Nonfiction Competition

Vine Leaves Press

Small presses have potential for significant impact, and at Vine Leaves Press, we take this responsibility quite seriously. It is our responsibility to give marginalized groups the opportunity to establish literary legacies that feel rich and vast. Why? To sustain hope for the world to become a more loving, tolerable, and open space. It always begins with art. That is why we have launched this writing competition.

Book publication

Deadline: July 01, 2024

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel

Young Sports Journalist 2024

The Young Sports Journalist Competition, 2024, seeks well-argued articles from aspiring journalists aged 14-21. Winning entries will be published online and printed in the Summer Issue of Pitch. Critiqued by our panel of accomplished judges, winners will also receive a £50 cash prize and offered work experience here at PITCH HQ. The competition runs from 7 February 2024 to 5 April 2024. And winners will be announced in May.

Publication in magazine and online

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 05, 2024

Essay, Non-fiction

Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction

Not Quite Write

The Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction challenges writers to create an original piece of flash fiction based on two typical writing prompts plus one ""anti-prompt"". An anti-prompt is a challenge to break a specific “rule” of writing while telling a great story. Participants compete for AU$2,000 in cash prizes, including AU$1,000 for the winner, cash prizes for the entire shortlist and two bonus ‘wildcard’ prizes. Winners are read aloud on the Not Quite Write podcast, where the judges share in-depth analysis about the entries and offer free writing advice. The Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction is hosted in Australia and open to all writers of any age and level of ability around the world.

Publication on the Not Quite Write website and podcast

Deadline: April 21, 2024

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult

Write By The Sea Literary Festival 2024

Write By the Sea

Write By The Sea is a dynamic boutique literary festival set in the beautiful fishing village of Kilmore Quay, County Wexford. The independent panel of judges will select the winners of each category and winners will be invited to read their work as part of the Festival.

2nd: €300 | 3rd: €200 | Publication

Deadline: June 21, 2024

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Poetry

The Free Verse Prize

Poetry Society

The Free Verse Prize is a new poetry prize, which supports the Free Verse Poetry Book and Magazine Fair. The judge is poet and former Poetry Book Fair director, Chrissy Williams. Poems can be on any theme, and should have fewer than 40 lines.

Publication in Poetry News and the Poetry Book Fair programme

Deadline: March 18, 2024

Kinsman Poetry Slam

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc

Poetry entries wanted for the upcoming collection, SLAM! Up to $300 in cash prizes. We are looking for captivating rhythm, form, hard-hitting themes of culture, resilience, passion, and justice. BIPOC Poets are encouraged to submit. Entries should have unpredictable patterns of rhyme and explore free verse and playfulness with language.

Publication in Kinsman Quarterly and the "SLAM" anthology.

Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize

The 2024 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize, the fifteenth edition of the prestigious prize, is open from 1 February to 1 July 2024. Exceptionally international in scope, the prize supports writers who have not yet published a book-length work, with no limits on age, gender, nationality, or background. The winners of each category will receive a £1,000 cash prize and publication in Wasafiri magazine.

Deadline: June 30, 2024

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story

Jim Martin Memorial Story Contest

Arizona Mystery Writers

Every year the Arizona Mystery Writers hosts the Jim Martin Memorial Story Contest. Naturally, since we’re the Arizona Mystery Writers, we want a mystery story, but we’re flexible about the boundaries of that category, and we also accept thrillers and suspense stories. It doesn’t matter if your story’s characters are in outer space, riding horses, or living underground. Costumes and settings don’t matter as long as the story is a mystery, thriller, or suspense tale as described.

2nd: $100 | 3rd: $75

Deadline: August 01, 2024

Fiction, Mystery, Short Story

Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers

University of Tulsa

The Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers honor the work of writers at the beginning of their careers. $500 prizes will be awarded in both the fiction and poetry categories, and the winning manuscripts will appear in the spring issue of Nimrod. Winners will have the chance to work with the Nimrod board of editors to refine and edit their manuscripts before publication.

Deadline: July 15, 2024

HG Wells Short Story Competition

HG Wells Competition

There are two different competitions in 2024: one for those 21 and under, and one for those over 21. The competition for those 21 and under is free to enter and has a prize of £1,000 for the winning entry. All shortlisted entries will also be published in a quality, professionally published paperback anthology.

Under 21: £1,000 | Over 21: £500

Deadline: July 08, 2024

Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story

42 Miles Press Poetry Award

42 Miles Press

The 42 Miles Press Poetry Award was created in an effort to bring urgent and original voices to the poetry reading public. The prize is offered annually to any poet writing in English, including poets who have never published a full-length book as well as poets who have published several. New and Selected collections of poems are also welcome.

Deadline: June 15, 2024

Tusculum Review Nonfiction Chapbook Prize

The Tusculum Review

A prize of $1,000, publication of the essay in The Tusculum Review’s 20th Anniversary Issue (2024), and creation of a limited edition stand-alone chapbook with original art is awarded. Editors of The Tusculum Review and contest judge Mary Cappello will determine the winner of the 2024 prize.

Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize

Marsh Hawk Press

Beginning December 1, 2023, Marsh Hawk Press is accepting submissions of poetry manuscripts to the annual Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prizes. Deadline is April 30, 2024. We welcome submissions from emerging as well as established poets. The winner of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize receives $1,000.00, book publication and promotion. Winners of the Robert Creeley and Rochelle Ratner prizes, selected from finalists, receive $250.00 each.

$1000 + publication

Maggie Award for Prepublished Writers

Georgia Romance Writers

The purpose of the Prepublished Maggie Award for Excellence is to encourage, recognize, and reward the mastery of romance writing by Prepublished authors of romantic fiction. The Maggie Award is a symbol of achievement given by the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) to bring special attention to these writers. The Maggie Award, a silver medallion commissioned by GRW, receives national attention.

Fiction, Novel, Romance

Fabula Press Short Story Contest

Fabula Press

Fabula Press’ annual short story competition has two segments – a free section, and a paid section. At least 3 submissions from the free section will be selected for publication in the Fabula Press Anthology and on the Fabula Press website; for paid submissions, at least twelve entries will be included in the anthology on the website. There is no theme for our contests; also, barring a few exceptions, we are flexible about genre

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 | Stories selected for publication: $75

Deadline: June 07, 2024

Maggie Award for Published Writers

The purpose of the Published Maggie Award for Excellence is to recognize the achievements of published authors of romantic fiction. The Maggie Award is a symbol of achievement given by the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) to bring special attention to these authors. The Maggie, a silver medallion commissioned by GRW, receives national attention. Books will be ranked by librarians, booksellers, and other professionals in the publishing industry.​​

Novel, Romance

Creative Nonfiction Prize

Indiana Review

Send us one creative nonfiction piece, up to 5000 words, for a chance at $1000 + publication. This year's contest will be judged by Lars Horn.

Deadline: March 31, 2024

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction

Indiana Review Poetry Prize

For our Poetry Prize, send no more than three poems in a single document. The winner will be awarded $1000 and publication in an upcoming issue of Indiana Review. This year's contest will be judged by Oliver Baez Bendorf.

Self-Publishing Literary Awards

Black Caucus

Through this contest, the BCALA honors the best self-published ebooks by an African American author in the U.S. in both fiction and poetry genres. These awards acknowledge outstanding achievement in the presentation of the cultural, historical and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora. The purpose is to encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and scholarly research including biographical, historical, and social history treatments by African Americans.

Deadline: February 29, 2024

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry

Jane Martin Poetry Prize

Girton College

The Jane Martin Poetry Prize is a national poetry competition, established in 2010, in memory of Girton alumna, Jane Elizabeth Martin (1978 Classics) through the generous support of Professor Sir Laurence Martin. Now in its 14th year, this national prize for young poets is a key part of the College’s support for poetry and will be of interest to all those who are serious about literary excellence. The competition is judged by experts drawn from across the literary world and academia. We are thrilled that this year the panel will be led by two judges – Abigail Parry and Bohdan Piasecki.

Deadline: March 15, 2024

Inception 2024: $500 for Best Opening

Sunspot Literary Journal

Beginnings have the power to spark passion or curiosity. They might immediately connect a specific place and time with an emotional tone. The best openings offer a feeling, atmosphere, action, or image that is gripping, and hints at more to come. Meaning, thoughtfulness, emotions, or tone draw audiences into the moment. For Sunspot Lit’s Inception contest, send your best opening. There are no restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece or collection from which the excerpt comes.

Fiction, Poetry

Elegant Literature's Award For New Writers

Elegant Literature

One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers, and the only one closed to professionals. We are the first magazine to pay pro rates and only accept submissions from new writers, putting over $100k into the hands of emerging talent around the globe. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors professional rates, and publish them in our magazine.

Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult, Flash Fiction, Science Writing

The Pinch Literary Awards & Page Prize

The Pinch Literary Journal

The 2023 Pinch Literary Awards accepts poetry and fiction. The 2023 Page Prize accepts non-fiction.

$2000 for poetry & fiction winners

$1000 for Page Prize winner

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Non-fiction

Novel Fair 2025

Irish Writers Centre

Now in its 13th year, the Novel Fair is an annual competition initiated by the Irish Writers Centre. Described by The Irish Times as ‘A Dragons’ Den for writers’, each year the Fair introduces twelve up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of industry professionals.

Present your novel to leading publishers and agents at the Irish Writers Centre

Fiction, Novel

The Heartland Review Open Calls

The Heartland Review

Founded in 2000, The Heartland Review (ISSN: 2473-9545) is published in the spring and fall as an imprint of The Heartland Review Press. Our biannual journal publishes fiction, creative nonfiction/fiction, and poetry of any all subcategories, styles, and voices. Our writers have ranged in age from 15 to 80+ from around the world. We consider established writers as well as emerging writers. In the past we have reserved space for student writers and emerging artists. We are currently accepting poetry.

Publication in The Heartland Review

Deadline: April 15, 2024

High School Academic Research Competition

Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal

The High School Academic Research Competition is where talented students from around the world compete to publish high-quality research on any topic. SARC challenges students to sharpen their critical thinking skills, immerse themselves in the research process, and hone their writing skills for success.

Indigo Research Intensive Summer Program

Deadline: March 20, 2024

Annual Student Essay Contest

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

For this year’s Essay Contest, we are asking students to think about why the story of the Oklahoma City bombing is important today.

Deadline: March 04, 2024

Solas Awards

Best Travel Writing

Extraordinary stories about travel and the human spirit have been the cornerstones of our books since 1993. With the Solas Awards we honor writers whose work inspires others to explore. We’re looking for the best stories about travel and the world. Funny, illuminating, adventurous, uplifting, scary, inspiring, poignant stories that reflect the unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result. We hope these awards will be a catalyst for those who love to leave home and tell others about it.

Deadline: September 21, 2024

Creative Writing Award for Short Fiction

Aesthetica Magazine

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award celebrates outstanding writers. The Award was launched after the publication of Aesthetica Magazine, as a way to support the next generation of literary talent. The Creative Writing Award is open to Poetry and Short Fiction submissions on any theme, however, we are particularly interested in works that reflect upon our ever changing world.

Publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual | A five-day course from Arvon | Consultation with Redhammer Management | Six-week writing short stories course from Curtis Brown Creative

Discover the finest writing contests of 2024 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2024 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests. 

But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.

Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!

For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.

Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?

The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2024

Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether. 

Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.

Free online courses

On Writing:

How to Craft a Killer Short Story

The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction

How to Write a Novel

Understanding Point of View

Developing Characters That Your Readers Will Love

Writing Dialogue That Develops Plot and Character

Stop Procrastinating! Build a Solid Writing Routine

On Editing:

Story Editing for Authors

How to Self-Edit Like a Pro

Novel Revision: Practical Tips for Rewrites

How to Write a Short Story in 7 Steps

How to Write a Novel in 15 Steps

Literary Devices and Terms — 35+ Definitions With Examples

10 Essential Fiction Writing Tips to Improve Your Craft

How to Write Dialogue: 8 Simple Rules and Exercises

8 Character Development Exercises to Help You Nail Your Character

Bonus resources

200+ Short Story Ideas

600+ Writing Prompts to Inspire You

100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

Story Title Generator

Pen Name Generator

Character Name Generator

After you submit to a writing competition in 2024

It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:

Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.

If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.

After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.

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25 Writing Contests and Publication Opportunities for Teens

Portrait of Emilio Terry ( showing hands writing )

NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 1564999

Are you an aspiring writer, creative artist, scientist or a future scholar? The following list of twenty-five publishing platforms provides teens with opportunities for recognition in those fields. Submitting your work for review and publication can channel your creative energy into a meaningful and rewarding project. Additionally, working on your writing will improve your research and organizational skills. Participating in a contest, or having your work published, is also a factor in college admissions decisions.

In estimating the amount of work each submission requires, be mindful of all provided deadlines. Notice that most essay submissions require a bibliography. If you are tackling an essay with an assigned topic, take advantage of the Library's Research resources. This guide to Remote Research Resources will provide you with guidance on how to use the Library's electronic resources from home. If you are working on composing an oratory, or any other piece of polemical writing, take a look at How to Research for a Debate Using Library Resources . Aspiring poets can consult Columbia Granger's World of Poetr y, a premier poetry online resource. Young artists can draw inspiration from the wealth of imagery in our Digital Collections . The Library encourages everyone to get creative with our public domain collection of digital images. If you are inserting a quotation into your text, learn How to Research a Quotation . Don't forget to attend the Library's events , as they frequently include writing workshops and book discussions . If you have any additional reference questions ,or want to see the full extent of remote research opportunities, take a look at our guide to Remote Collections and Services.

For additional guidance and inspiration, please see the short list of books provided below.

The Writer's Practice: Building Confidence in Your Nonfiction Writing by John Warner

Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron

Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry with the Masters by Robert Pisnky

Writers's Idea Book by Jack Heffron

Barron's Painless Writing by Jeffrey Strausser

How to Write Better Essays by Bryan Greetham

You Can Write a Play! by Milton E. Polsky

The Artist's Way: a Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Apprentice Writer

Susquehanna University and the Writers Institute initiative invite high school students to submit fiction, memoir, personal essay , poetry and photography for the thirty-ninth volume of Apprentice Writer , which will be published in the fall of 2021 

Deadline:  submissions are accepted from September 15 , 2020 to March 15 2021

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest 

The Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest provides scholarship, prizes, and recognition for the best poems submitted by young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school. No more than two poems per student. For details and prizes please see the contest webpage . 

Deadline: October 31, 2020 

Leonard l. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize

The Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding work by student writers in the eigth grade in the U.S. or abroad. Contest judges are poets on the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty, which includes Michael Dickman, Paul Muldoon, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Susan Wheeler, Jenny Xie, and Monica Youn.

Deadline: to be announced. For the latest information and updates, you can subscribe to a newsletter . 

Rattle Young Poets Anthology

Young Poets Anthology is looking for poem submissions from authors that are 15, and younger. Poets can use their whole name, first name or a pseudonym. Poems could be submitted by students that are younger than 18, teachers, parents and guardians. 

Deadline:  Submission for 2020 accepted until November 16, 2020.

Society of Classical Poets High School Poetry Competition

Invites classic poetry lovers ages 13 to 19 to submit up to 3 metered poems, limited to 108 lines.  Poems must contain meter. Counting the number of syllables and ensuring there are a similar number in each line is sufficient. Society offers a very useful tutorial on  writing poetry with a meter. To learn how to write poetry with a meter, see a brief beginner’s guide on common iambic meter here or a more elaborate beginner’s guide to many kinds of meter here .

Deadline: December 31, 2020

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers   

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world. The contest winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. In addition, the winning poem and the poems of the two runners-up will be published in the Kenyon Review, one of the country’s most widely read literary magazines.

Deadline : Submissions accepted between November 1 and November 30

Bennington College Young Writers Awards 

Students in 9th-12th grades, residing anywhere in the world, are invited to submit original works in three categories. Poetry requires a submission of three poems. Category of Fiction accepts short stories or a one-act play. There is a separate nonfiction essay category. Please notice that only original writing is accepted, and all  work has to be sponsored by a high school teacher. For further details, carefully read the submission rules.  

Deadline: Submissions for 2020 are accepted from September 3 to November 1 

Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers 

High School students from anywhere in the world are eligible to submit original work written in English. Creative writing that was not previously published, can be submitted in the categories of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. For further detail and submissions guidelines read the rules of the context. In addition to creative writing, you can submit cover art for Polyphony magazine. 

Deadline: Check the website for the latest writing deadlines. Deadline for cover art submission is April 30th.   

SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest 

In order to increase high school students' knowledge and understanding of the importance of independent media in our lives, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalist and the Journalism Education Association invites students enrolled in grades 9-12 in US public, private and home schools , to submit an essay on a given topic.  National winners of this essay contest will receive a scholarship award. Topic for 2020 will be released in November. 

Deadline : February 22 

Achievement Award in Writing 

National Council of Teachers of English is offering an Achievement Award in Writing to High School Juniors in the United States, Canada, Virgin Islands, and accredited American Schools abroad. Students must be nominated by their school's English department and should submit one themed essay and a sample of their best writing. 

Deadline:  Submissions for 2021 are open from November 15 to February 15. Theme for the essay is available at the time of publication ( October 2020) 

Teen Ink Magazine 

A national teen magazine devoted to teenage writing, art, photos and forums, offers an opportunity to publish creative work and opinions on issues that affect their lives of teens. Hundreds of thousands of students aged 13-19, have submitted their work. Teen Ink magazine has published the creative output of over 55,000 teens. Teens can submit an article, poetry, book, novel, photo or a video though this link.

Deadline: none

Princeton University Ten Minute Play Contest 

Eligibility for the annual playwriting contest is limited to students in the 11th grade in the U.S , or an international equivalent of the 11th grade. Jury consists of members of the Princeton University Program in Theater faculty. 

Deadline: Information regarding submission will be provided in late Fall of 2020.

Youth Plays 

Unpublished one-act plays from authors younger than 19 years of age are accepted for submission. Plays should feature youth characters and be suitable for school production. For detailed submission guidelines and helpful advice visit Youth Plays website. 

Deadline: Next opportunity for submission will open up in early 2021.

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards has the largest selection of opportunities for creative self-expression. With twenty eight categories, ranging from poetry to the entire writing portfolio, young artists and writers can choose from a plethora of opportunities. For the latest updates, rules , and information on how to enter, register with Scholastic. Don't forget to view the Gallery of Winning Entries . To participate in the Awards, you must be a student in grades 7–12, age 13 years or older, residing in the United States, U.S. territories or military bases, or Canada.

Deadlines vary by category, with submissions windows between September to December. 

National Young Arts Foundation Competition

Young Arts' signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages 15-18, or in grades 10-12. Open to students in a variety of different disciplines, including visual arts, writing, and music, National Young Arts Foundation  Competition  asks students to submit a portfolio of work.

Deadline: October 16 , 2020

World Historian Student Essay Competition  

World History Association invites international students enrolled in grades K-12 in public, private and parochial schools, and those in home-study programs to participate in a writing competition that celebrates the study of history. Each competitor will submit an essay that addresses the issue: In what way has the study of world history affected my understanding of the world in which we live ? For further details on submission guidelines, visit World History Association.  

Deadline: May 1

The Concord Review

This unique publication is the only quarterly journal in the world to publish academic history papers of secondary students. The Concord Review accepts history research papers (about 8,500 words with endnotes and bibliography ) of high school students from anywhere in the world. There is no theme, and papers on every period of history anywhere in the world are accepted. For specific rules and regulators, see the submission guidelines. 

Deadline: essay are accepted on a rolling admissions basis.

George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest

The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) invites all high school students (9th through 12th grades) interested in the American Revolution to participate in the George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest. To participate, students must submit an original 800 to 1,200-word essay based on an event, person, philosophy or ideal associated with the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, or the framing of the United States Constitution. 

Deadline: December 31 

JFK Profiles in Courage Essay Contest 

The contest is open to United States high school students in grades 9-12 attending public, private, parochial, or home schools. In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy recounted the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers to do what was right for the nation. The Profile in Courage Essay Contest challenges students to write an original and creative essay that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage.

Deadline: January 15 

Write the World Competition

Write the World is a global community of young writers, ages 13-18. Write the World offers a rotating list of themed competitions. Current competition ( October 2020) is for a Speech Writing Oration. The list of past competitions includes Historical Fiction ( short story), Food Writing, Album Review, Environmental Journalism, Songwriting and Book Review. 

Deadline: a new competition every month

Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize

Established in 2006, the Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize is an essay competition open in year 12 or the equivalent. Students can submit essays on three given topics in Philosophy. The judges will look for originality of thought, a clear grasp of the issues, clarity in presentation and a critical approach to what has been read. They will also look for a clear structure to the essay. Please read the submission guidelines carefully .

Deadline: June 22 , 2021

The American Foreign Service Association’s National High School Essay Contest

Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate in the contest, if they reside in the U.S., U.S territories, or if they are U.S. citizens attending high school overseas. In addition to the winner, there is the one runner-up and eight honorable mentions. For further details, please read Rules and Guidelines 

Deadline: The new prompt and deadlines for 2021 will be announced in the fall of 2020

International Essay Contest for Young People

This annual themed essay contest is organized by the Goi Peace Foundation in an effort to harness the energy, creativity and initiative of the world's youth in promoting a culture of peace and sustainable development. Essays can be submitted in two age categories, by anyone younger than 25. In addition to English, essays can be submitted in French, Spanish, German and Japanese. Please note that essays must be mailed, as no email submissions are accepted.

Deadline: Consult the Goi Peace Foundation website for the 2021 theme .

Engineer Girl Essay Writing Competition

This competition is  open to individual girls and boys in the following three age categories: elementary, middle, and high school students. This year's theme  relates to the COVID-19 virus.

Deadline: The contest will close at 11:59 PM, February 1, 2021, U.S. Eastern Standard Tim e

Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Scholarship Program

Established in 1947 by Veterans of Foreign Wars, Voice of Democracy Youth Scholarship program requires a submission of a themed recorded essay. Students attending any type of school in grades 9-12 are eligible to participate. Essays are judged on content and on delivery technique.

Deadline: October 31

good writing competitions for high school students

The 35 Best Writing Contests for High School Students

good writing competitions for high school students

Writing Contests With Multiple Categories

Participating in writing contests can be a great way for aspiring writers to showcase their talent, gain recognition, and even win prizes or scholarships. Writing contests with multiple categories offer a broader scope for creativity and allow writers to choose from a variety of themes or genres. Below is a list of writing contests with multiple categories that cater to different interests and writing styles:

1. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: This prestigious contest offers multiple categories, including short stories, poetry, personal essays, journalism, science fiction, and more. It is open to students in grades 7-12 and awards scholarships to winners.

Website: https://www.artandwriting.org/

2. Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition: With multiple categories like poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and screenplay, this contest attracts writers of all levels. Participants have the chance to win cash prizes and get their work published in Writer's Digest magazine.

Website: https://www.writersdigest.com/writers-digest-competitions

3. The Bridport Prize: This UK-based contest includes categories for short stories, poetry, flash fiction, and first novels. It attracts international writers and offers significant cash prizes to winners.

Website: https://www.bridportprize.org.uk/

4. New Voices Award: Sponsored by Lee & Low Books, this contest is specifically for children's picture books written by unpublished authors of color. It has multiple categories for different age groups.

Website: https://www.leeandlow.com/writers-illustrators/new-voices-award

5. Narrative Magazine's Annual Contest: Narrative Magazine offers various categories like fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and micro-fiction. It is open to all writers and provides cash prizes and publication opportunities.

Website: https://www.narrativemagazine.com/winter-spring-2023-story-contest

6. Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest: This contest focuses on family-themed short stories and essays. It offers separate categories for fiction and non-fiction and provides cash prizes and publication in Glimmer Train.

Website: https://www.glimmertrain.com/pages/guidelines/short_story_award_for_new_writers_guidelines.php

7. The Writer's Loft Flash Fiction Contest: This contest is dedicated to flash fiction and includes multiple categories based on word count. It is open to all writers and provides cash prizes to winners.

Website: https://writersloft.submittable.com/submit

8. The Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards: For self-published authors, this contest offers various categories, such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and more. Winners receive cash prizes and exposure to potential readers.

Website: https://www.writersdigest.com/writers-digest-competitions/self-published-book-awards

9. Sequestrum Editor's Reprint Award: This contest accepts previously published works in various categories, such as fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. It provides cash prizes and publication in Sequestrum.

Website: https://www.sequestrum.org/editors-reprint-award

10. The Moth Short Story Prize: This international contest offers multiple categories for short stories, and winners receive cash prizes and have their work published in The Moth magazine.

Website: https://themothmagazine.com/a1-page.asp?ID=6516&page=6

When participating in writing contests, make sure to carefully review the guidelines and submission requirements for each category. Writing contests with multiple categories offer writers diverse opportunities to showcase their skills and explore various genres, making it a rewarding experience for all participants.

Fiction Writing Contests for High School Students

Participating in fiction writing contests can be an excellent opportunity for high school students to showcase their creative talents, gain recognition, and even win prizes or scholarships. Below is a list of fiction writing contests specifically designed for high school students:

1. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: One of the most prestigious contests for young writers, the Scholastic Awards offer multiple categories, including short stories, flash fiction, and science fiction. It is open to students in grades 7-12 and awards scholarships to winners.

2. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose: This contest is exclusively for high school students and includes categories for fiction, flash fiction, and poetry. Winners receive cash prizes and publication in Adroit Journal.

Website: https://www.theadroitjournal.org/

3. YoungArts Competition: While primarily focused on the arts, YoungArts also offers a writing category, including fiction and creative non-fiction. It accepts submissions from students in grades 10-12 and provides financial awards and mentorship opportunities.

Website: https://youngarts.org/

4. Skipping Stones Youth Honor Awards: This contest encourages young writers to explore themes of multiculturalism, environmental stewardship, and social justice through fiction. It is open to students aged 7-17, and winners receive a subscription to Skipping Stones magazine.

Website: https://www.skippingstones.org/

5. The Claremont Review: Specifically for young writers aged 13-19, The Claremont Review accepts submissions of fiction, poetry, and art. Winners are featured in the magazine and receive cash prizes.

Website: https://www.theclaremontreview.ca/

6. Justis International Writing Competition: This global contest accepts fiction submissions from high school students worldwide. It provides an excellent platform for young writers to share their work on an international stage.

Website: https://www.justiswritingcompetition.com/

7. The Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival: Although primarily focused on playwriting, this festival also accepts submissions of original short stories and monologues. It is open to students aged 19 and under.

Website: https://www.theblank.com/young-playwrights/

8. The Bennington Young Writers Awards: High school students in grades 10-12 can submit their fiction and poetry to this contest. Winners receive cash prizes and have the opportunity to attend a summer writing workshop at Bennington College.

Website: https://www.bennington.edu/events/young-writers-awards

9. Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students: This annual contest is open to high school students across the globe and includes a category for fiction. Winners receive cash prizes and have their work published in Princeton's journal, "The Princeton Tiger."

Website: https://www.princetontigerpoetry.com/

10. River of Words Youth Poetry and Art Contest: While primarily focused on poetry and art, this contest also accepts illustrated short stories. It is open to students aged 5-19, and winners receive cash prizes and have their work published in the River of Words anthology.

Website: https://www.riverofwords.org/

When entering fiction writing contests, students should carefully read the guidelines and submission requirements for each contest. These contests offer a platform for young writers to express their creativity and passion for storytelling, making it a valuable experience on their writing journey.

Nonfiction Contests for High School Students

Participating in nonfiction writing contests can be a rewarding experience for high school students who are interested in expressing their thoughts, experiences, and perspectives through essays, memoirs, and other forms of nonfiction writing. Below is a list of nonfiction writing contests specifically designed for high school students:

1. The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest: This contest is open to U.S. high school students in grades 9-12. Participants are required to submit an original essay of 700-1,000 words, focusing on an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official. Winners receive cash prizes and scholarships.

Website: https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/education/profile-in-courage-essay-contest

2. The New York Times Learning Network Student Contests: The New York Times offers various nonfiction writing contests for high school students throughout the year. These contests may focus on topics like current events, personal reflections, or even social issues. Winning entries may be published on The New York Times website.

Website: https://www.nytimes.com/section/learning/contest

3. The Princeton University Ten-Minute Play Contest: Although primarily focused on playwriting, this contest also accepts nonfiction submissions in the form of monologues or dialogues. It is open to high school students in the United States, and winners receive cash prizes.

Website: https://arts.princeton.edu/academics/lewis-center-writing/ten-minute-play-contest/

4. The Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest: This national contest is open to U.S. students in grades 7-12. It invites students to write essays on patriotic themes related to American history and values. Winners receive cash prizes and have the chance to compete at the national level.

Website: https://www.fra.org/fra/Web/Events_and_Programs/7_12th_Grade_Essay_Contest/Web/Content/7-12th_Grade_Essay_Contest.aspx

5. The World History Association Student Essay Contest: High school students from around the world can participate in this contest, which focuses on historical nonfiction essays. Winners receive cash prizes and have their work published in The World History Bulletin.

Website: https://www.thewha.org/student-essay-contest

6. The John Locke Institute Essay Competition: This international contest invites high school students to submit nonfiction essays on various philosophical topics. Winners receive cash prizes and have their essays published on the institute's website.

Website: https://www.johnlocke.ac.uk/essay-competition

7. The EngineerGirl Essay Contest: Organized by the National Academy of Engineering, this contest is open to both boys and girls in grades 3-12. It encourages students to explore engineering and technology through nonfiction essays. Winners receive cash prizes.

Website: https://www.engineergirl.org/108804/2022-essay-contest

8. The Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contests: Ayn Rand's novels serve as the inspiration for these contests, which include categories for high school students. Participants are required to write essays based on the themes presented in Rand's works. Cash prizes and scholarships are awarded to winners.

Website: https://www.aynrand.org/students/essay-contests

When participating in nonfiction writing contests, students should carefully review the guidelines and submission requirements for each contest. These contests offer students a platform to share their unique perspectives and insights, and winning entries can lead to recognition and valuable writing experience.

Playwriting Contests for High School Students

Participating in playwriting contests can be a great opportunity for high school students with a passion for theater and storytelling. These contests provide a platform to showcase their creativity and talent in playwriting. Below is a list of playwriting contests specifically designed for high school students:

1. The Young Playwrights Inc. National Playwriting Competition: This contest is open to high school students in the United States. Participants are invited to submit original plays of any genre, with a running time of 1 to 45 minutes. Winners receive cash prizes and have their plays performed by professional actors.

Website: https://youngplaywrights.org/programs/national-playwriting-competition/

2. The Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival: Open to U.S. high school students, this contest seeks original plays with a running time of 12 to 25 minutes. Selected winners have their plays produced and performed by industry professionals in a theater festival in Los Angeles.

Website: https://www.theblank.com/programs/young-playwrights/

3. The British Theatre Challenge: While primarily an international contest, this playwriting competition accepts submissions from high school students worldwide. Participants are asked to submit short plays with a running time of 10 to 30 minutes. Winners have the chance to see their plays performed in London.

Website: https://www.skylightrain.com/britishtheatrechallenge/

4. The Young Voices Foundation Playwriting Competition: This contest is open to high school students in the United States and Canada. Participants are encouraged to submit plays that explore social issues and relevant themes. Selected winners have their plays performed by professional actors in New York City.

Website: https://youngvoicesfoundation.org/playwriting-competition/

5. The Boston University Playwriting Competition: This contest is open to U.S. high school students. Participants are invited to submit original one-act plays with a running time of 30 to 45 minutes. Winners receive cash prizes and have their plays performed at Boston University.

Website: https://www.bu.edu/cfa/academics/theatre/fall-theatre/playwriting-competition/

6. The Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contest: Although primarily focused on science fiction and fantasy, this contest also accepts submissions of one-act plays from high school students. Winners receive cash prizes and have their plays published in an anthology.

Website: https://www.writersofthefuture.com/enter-writer-contest/

7. The Georgia High School Playwriting Competition: Open to high school students in Georgia, this contest invites original plays in any genre. Winners receive cash prizes and have their plays performed by professional actors.

Website: https://www.georgiastateschooloftheatre.com/high-school-playwriting-competition

Participating in playwriting contests allows high school students to showcase their creativity, hone their writing skills, and gain recognition for their work. Before submitting their plays, students should carefully review the guidelines and requirements of each contest. Winning entries can lead to exciting opportunities, such as having their plays performed on stage or published in anthologies.

Participating in writing contests can be an excellent way for high school students to showcase their creativity, hone their writing skills, and gain recognition for their talent. These contests provide a platform for young writers to express themselves, explore different genres, and connect with a community of like-minded individuals. Winning or being recognized in these contests can boost confidence, open doors to future opportunities, and even lead to scholarships or publication opportunities. Overall, these writing contests offer valuable experiences that can inspire and encourage the next generation of writers to continue pursuing their passion for literature and storytelling.

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  • February 24, 2023

10 Writing Competitions for High School Students in 2023-2024

Are you a high school student who likes to write here are ten writing competitions for high school students in 2023-2024..

good writing competitions for high school students

Are you an aspiring novelist, a hobby writer, or a burgeoning poet? Have you tried your hand at nonfiction essays or playwriting? If so, you might be a great candidate for a national, regional, or state writing competition for high school students. Although specifics of each competition vary widely, these are usually great opportunities to showcase your talents, win some scholarship money, and buff up your writer’s resume. You might even get the chance to publish your work in a major journal or literary magazine or gain a mentor.

Here are ten writing competitions with deadlines during the 2023-2024 school year that you can start preparing yourself for right now. While most of these competitions are only for U.S. citizens, some are open to international students as well. Check each competition’s webpage for more information.

YoungArts Competitions for High School Students

Genres: Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Visual

Arts, Voice, Writing

Award: Up to $10,000 and national recognition

Eligibility: US citizens and permanent resident/green card recipients in grades 10-12 or

15-18 years of age on December 1, 2023

Fee: $35 (waivers available)

Deadline: October 15, 2023 at 11:59 pm EST

YoungArts is one of the most prestigious artistic competitions in the country, encompassing a wide variety of disciplines and forms. Through this competition, the National YoungArts Foundation identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Genres: Nonfiction, Novel, Play or Script, Poetry, Short Story, Spoken Word

Award: Up to $12,500 and national, state, and/or regional recognition

Eligibility: Grade 7-12 or 13+ years old

Fee: $7 per individual, $25 per portfolio (waivers available)

Deadline: December 2023/January 2024 (depends on region)

The Awards give students opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships. All entries are considered for Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, American Voices Nominee, and American Visions Nominee awards. These are presented to students along with celebration ceremonies and exhibitions in each region.

The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest

Genres: Nonfiction

Award: Up to $2,500 and an all-expense paid educational voyage courtesy of

Semester at Sea; runner-up received $1,250 and a full scholarship to attend

the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership

Eligibility: U.S. citizens in grades 9-12 whose parents are not in the Foreign Service

Deadline: April 3, 2023

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)’s National High School Essay Contest encourages students to think about how and why the United States engages globally to build peace, and about the role that diplomacy plays in advancing U.S. national security and economic prosperity.

This year, students are asked to explore a topic that touches upon this important history and sheds light on how vital it is for America to have a robust professional corps focused on diplomacy, development, and peace in the national interest.

VFW Voice of Democracy

Award: Up to $35,000 in scholarships

Eligibility: U.S. Citizens in grades 9-12

Deadline: October 31, 2023 (TBD)

Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regard to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 64,500 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. All student entries must be submitted to a sponsoring local VFW Post.

Bennington Young Writers Awards

Genres: Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry

Award: Up to $1,000 and potential scholarships at Bennington College up to $60,00

Eligibility: U.S. and international students in grades 9-12

Deadline: November 1, 2023 (TBD)

Bennington launched the Young Writers Awards to promote excellence in writing at the high school level. All entries must be original work reviewed, approved, and sponsored by a high school teacher. Winners’ works will be published on Bennington’s website.

Atlas Shrugged – Essay Contest

Award: First prize: $10,000; 3 second prizes: $2,000; 5 third prizes: $1,000; 25

finalists: $100; 50 semifinalists: $50

Eligibility: High school, college, and graduate students

Deadline: November 6, 2023

The Atlas Shrugged novel essay contest is open to all students globally. Atlas Shrugged is a heroic mystery novel written by Ayn Rand. Choose a prompt and write an 800-1,600 word essay. The Ayn Rand Insititute holds two other contests covering Rand’s work with deadlines in Spring 2023.

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

Genres: Poetry

Award: Scholarships to Young Writers Workshop, publication

Eligibility: Grades 10 & 11

Deadline: November 1-30, 2023 (TBD)

Hosted annually by the Kenyon Review, the Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize was created in 2007 to recognize outstanding young poets. The Kenyon Review also hosts a Short Fiction and Short Nonfiction competition yearly for a wide variety of authors.

Center for Environmental Literacy — River of Words

Award: Recognition and publication

Eligibility: Grades K-12 and/or ages 5-19

Deadline: December 2023/February 2024 (TBD)

River of Words® (ROW) is a program of The Center for Environmental Literacy and a part of the Kalmanovitz School of Education. Acknowledged pioneers in the field of place-based education, River of Words has been inspiring educators and their students for over twenty-five years with an innovative blend of science and the arts. This free, annual, international youth poetry and art contest — the largest in the world — inspires children ages 5 to 19 to translate their observations into creative expression.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Award: Up to $10,000

Eligibility: U.S. citizens in grades 9-12

Deadline: January 2024 (TBD)

The Profile in Courage Essay Contest challenges students to write an original and creative essay that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage . This is a great fit for any student interested in government, politics, or history.

The Concord Review

Genres: Nonfiction, historical research

Award: Publication and potential to win The Emerson Prize

Eligibility: Work completed while you were a high school student

Deadline: Rolling basis

The Concord Review was founded in March 1987 to recognize and publish exemplary history essays by high school students in the English-speaking world. Although this is not a traditional writing competition, it offers students the opportunity to publish their historical research and gain recognition throughout the academic year. Outstanding submissions may even receive the Emerson Prize, an award named after essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. The entry fee is steeper than most, but it comes with a year-long subscription to The Concord Review.

What are you waiting for? Polish your submissions and share your work today!

If you’re looking for help editing your scholarship applications or general college admissions consulting , don’t hesitate to set up a free consultation today.

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Best Academic Essay: OxBright Essay Competition 2024

The OxBright Essay Competition is the perfect opportunity for high school students to nurture their academic writing skills while honing long-term thinking and critical discourse skills. 

The competition runs annually, and will focus on a different theme and question each year. However, entries will generally be accepted from the following subject categories:

  • Architecture
  • Computer Science and Coding 
  • Creative Writing 
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics 
  • Philosophy 

How do I enter?

To enter the competition, submit an essay of up to 3,800 characters responding to the relevant year’s question.

Make sure to check the deadline for the year you’re looking to enter – this usually falls in September or October.

Once you’ve submitted your entry, we’ll be in touch within two weeks to let you know if you’ve been shortlisted.

What are the prizes?

In 2023, the first 1,000 shortlisted students received a complimentary ticket to attend one of OxBright’s online conferences ! All shortlisted entrants, along with their parents and teachers, were invited to attend our Awards Ceremony on 28th October 2023, where the winners were announced!

All participants had the chance to win over £100,000 worth of academic prizes including:

  • A place on our sister organisation, the Oxford Scholastica Academy’s residential Oxford summer school (worth £6,495)
  • A place on an OxBright online course or internship (worth £995)
  • A certificate of achievement for the top 20% of entries

Best Fantasy

Best Fantasy: L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

For those enchanted by the realms of fantasy, the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest offers a rare opportunity for aspiring fantasy writers to have their work judged by masters in the field. 

The contest fosters the creation of magical worlds and epic adventures giving entrants the creative freedom to create their most imaginative tales!

To enter the contest, submit a piece of prose up to 17,000 words that fits the genre of fantasy, dark fantasy or science fiction. 

The contest starts on 1st October 2023 and the deadline is at 11:59pm (PST) on 31st December 2023 .

Prizes are awarded every quarter and include:

  • $1000, $750 and $500 cash prizes
  • $5000 cash prize
  • The L. Ron Hubbard Golden Pen Award

Best Historical Fiction

Best Historical Fiction: Young Walter Scott Prize

Step into your passion for History through the Young Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction . This competition breathes life into historical eras, characters and narratives. It’s an excellent opportunity for budding historical fiction writers to explore bygone worlds, cultures and moments, all while honing their storytelling craft. 

To enter the contest, submit your historical fiction story ( between 800 and 2,000 words ) set in a time before you were born. 

This year’s closing date is 31st October 2023 .

Participants in the Young Walter Scott Prize can win:

  • A £500 travel grant
  • Tickets to one of the UK’s best book festivals
  • The chance to see their own work in print in a special anthology

Best Journalism

Best Journalism: Young Reporters for the Environment Competition

For those with a passion for environmental advocacy, the Young Reporters for the Environment Competition is the ideal chance to shed light on pressing ecological issues. Through their journalistic skills, young reporters can raise awareness, inspire change and contribute to a more sustainable world.

Each entrant can submit up to three articles (no more than 1,000 words each) for their age group category. 

Check out the winning articles for the 2023 contest to start preparing for your 2024 entry!

Prizes for the YRE competition include:

  • Diplomas for the winning entries
  • The chance to be published internationally on online platforms
  • The chance to be published on the YRE International website

Best Playwriting

Best Playwriting and Screenwriting: BBC Young Writers’ Award

For those with a dramatic flair, the BBC Young Writers’ Award offers a spotlight to playwrights and screenwriters. Nurturing compelling dialogues and captivating narratives, this competition is for the storytellers of the future!

To enter the competition, participants submit a story of up to 1,000 words on any theme.

The contest reopens for submissions in 2024, so keep an eye out!

The winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award will receive a personalised mentoring session with an author to further enhance their writing skills!

Best Poetry

Best Poetry: Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is an incredible opportunity for those with a passion for verse to hone their skills and boost their professional careers! 

Through evocative imagery, lyrical cadence and heartfelt expressions, young poets can explore a world of emotions, themes and perspectives.

To enter the competition, participants can submit a selection of poems – or just one! – of any length and on any theme.

The contest reopens for submissions in 2024, so do keep checking back!

Each year, the judges select 100 winners to receive a variety of prizes, including:

  • An invite to a prestigious awards ceremony in London
  • The chance to have their poems published in a print anthology
  • The chance to have their poems published in an online anthology 
  • A place on a residential writing course
  • Mentoring from a professional poet
  • A year’s membership to the Poetry Society
  • A goody bag full of books and treats
  • Ongoing support via publication, performance and an internship programme

Best Commentary

Best Political and Social Commentary: John Locke Institute Essay Competition

The John Locke Institute Essay Competition invites young minds to delve into the complex fabric of Politics and social commentary. By offering fresh perspectives on global issues, participants contribute to meaningful discussions, shape public discourse and advocate for change. 

To enter, essay submissions must be no longer than 2,000 words and must address one of the questions in one of the following subject categories:

Registration for next year’s competition opens April 2024 .

A winner is chosen for the best essay in each category and will receive:

  • A scholarship worth $2000 towards any John Locke Institute programme
  • Publication of their essay on the Institute’s website

The candidate who submits the best essay overall will receive:

  • An honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship
  • A $10,000 scholarship to attend one or more of the Institute’s summer schools or gap year courses

Best Short Story

Best Short Story: Scholastic Art and Writing Awards – Short Story Category

For those who thrive in the realm of brevity, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards’ Short Story Category offers a canvas for character development, creativity and narrative finesse within a limited word count. With the potential for entrants to receive national recognition, scholarships and the chance to have their work published, it’s a rare chance to gain valuable experience at a young age!

To enter the contest, participants submit a fictional narrative between 500 and 3,000 words to the Short Story category. 

Entries open in September, and deadlines vary between December and January depending on region.

Prizes for the different awards include:

  • The chance to be published in an anthology
  • Eligibility for a scholarship up to $12,500
  • A star-studded ceremony at Carnegie Hall
  • The chance to be showcased at regional, national and travelling exhibitions

The range of writing competitions for high school students is vast. Spanning different genres, themes and creative paths, they offer a multitude of opportunities for young writers to flourish.

Participating in a writing contest allows students to hone their skills, amplify their voices, and practise personal development. 

As you embark on your literary voyage, remember to explore a spectrum of literary realms, express your uniqueness, and seize all opportunities!

Emily

Emily is an undergraduate student at the University of Bristol reading English Literature, specialising in Modernist writers. In her free time, Emily enjoys running and hopes to complete her first half-marathon next year. She also loves photography and videography.

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Best Student Contests and Competitions for 2023

We tell students that learning is its own reward, and that’s certainly true. But it’s also nice to win money and other prizes! Knowing they could gain recognition or even a prize for winning can be incredibly motivating. This roundup includes the best contests and competitions for high school students, as well as middle school and elementary too.

Contests and Competitions for High School Students

Contests and competitions for middle school students, contests and competitions for elementary school students, contests and competitions for students of all ages, adcap challenge.

Come up with a big idea to help create meaningful change and healthier school communities. Then use the AdCap project designer to submit your idea, and compete for funding to bring your project to life.

AFSA National High School Essay Contest

If you’re looking to help students take a deep dive into international relations, history, and writing, look no further than this essay contest. Winners receive full tuition to the Semester at Sea program as well as a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with a leader at the Department of State.

All American High School Film Festival

Student films have the opportunity to become an Official Selection, screened at the AMC Empire 25 Theaters in Times Square, the busiest movie theater in America! Each October, thousands of student filmmakers gather in New York City for an action-packed weekend of resources and entertainment, including the Teen Indie Awards Show, where over $500,000 in prizes and scholarships are handed out.

ArtEffect Project

The ArtEffect Project teaches middle and high school students about their power to effect positive change through creative storytelling that celebrates unsung heroes from history. Students submit high-quality creative art projects in the visual arts, narrative film, theater, and creative nonfiction genres. Winners can receive thousands of dollars in prizes.

Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge

The Youth Design Challenge (YDC) is a free hands-on project-based learning experience that provides classroom and informal educators with a new framework to introduce biomimicry and an interdisciplinary lens on science and environmental literacy. It’s open to middle school and high school students.

Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Students submit a big scientific idea in fundamental physics, life sciences, or mathematics in video form. Winners receive college scholarships, plus money for their teacher and school.

BUILD’s Design Challenge

Students in grades 7–12 use design thinking to create solutions to real-world challenges. In this 10-hour experience, students develop entrepreneurial skills and empathy while learning about prototyping and testing.

Congressional Art Competition

Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.

Conrad Challenge

Design an innovation, solve an important problem, and establish yourself as an entrepreneur. You might just change the world in the process! Students work in teams of two to five to compete for prizes such as scholarships, pro-bono legal and consulting services, and a Dell Chromebook.

C-SPAN’s StudentCam Competition

This national contest invites all middle and high school students to create a five-to-seven-minute documentary based on an annual theme.

DECA Competitive Events

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. DECA’s competitive events can be grouped into three broad categories: role-plays and case studies, prepared events, and online simulations. Events take place around the country and throughout the year.

International Compost Awareness Week Poster Contest

Students create a poster for International Compost Awareness Week, which takes place in May. The winner gets $500 and the chance to see their poster produced professionally.

Jane Austen Essay Contest

High school students can win up to $1,000 in scholarship money by writing an essay on a new Austen theme each year, sponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North America.

NAQT Quiz Bowl

Quiz Bowl is a fast-paced buzzer competition in which teams of four players compete to answer questions that cover academic subjects like literature and science as well as the broader world of popular culture and current events. Local middle school and high school tournaments send their winners on to regional and national championships.

National Academic League

As middle and high school student teams compete to answer questions aligned to national standards, they must also cooperate and use teamwork to tackle each quarter’s new challenge. Each school can field a team of 15 to 40, giving lots of kids a chance to participate.

National History Day (NHD)

National History Day (NHD) is an annual event for teachers and students in grades 6–12 that promotes critical thinking skills through project-based learning. Students begin their journey by presenting their projects in classrooms, schools, and districts around the world. Top entries are invited to the state/affiliate-level contests. The top two entries in every category at the state/affiliate level are then invited to the National Contest.

National Young Composers Challenge

The challenge is simple: First, students write their own composition for a small ensemble (two to six instruments) or full orchestra. Then, a panel of judges chooses the top three orchestral and top three ensemble compositions to be performed and recorded by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at the NYCC Composium held in Orlando, Florida.

New York Times Student Writing Contests

Each month, the New York Times announces a new writing contest for middle and high school students ages 13 to 19. The topics and requirements are different each month, with something to appeal to all sorts of young authors and journalists.

PicoCTF Cybersecurity Competition

PicoCTF is a computer security game for middle and high school students. The game consists of a series of challenges centered around a unique storyline where participants must reverse-engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge. The challenges are all set up with the intent of being hacked, making it an excellent, legal way to get hands-on experience.

Princeton 10-Minute Play Contest

Looking for student writing contests for budding playwrights? In this competition, judged by the theater faculty of Princeton University, students submit short plays in an effort to win recognition and cash prizes of up to $500. (Note: Only open to 11th graders.)

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens (ages 13+, grades 7–12) awards scholarships and gives kids a chance to showcase their skills for some of the foremost leaders in the arts.

Slingshot Challenge

Produce a 1-minute video with a solution to a current environmental problem (think: uniting creative waste reducers on social media or rehabilitating forests affected by fire) for the chance to receive up to $10,000 in funding.

Solve for Tomorrow

The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition invites middle and high school teachers to lead a group of students in creating a STEM-centered solution that addresses a need in their communities. Teachers and students compete to win a share of $2 million for their schools. The National Winner prize is $100,000 in technology and classroom materials.

Space Settlement Design Competitions

These events emulate, as closely as possible for high school students, the experiences of working as members of aerospace design and proposal teams. Students learn cooperation, management, and communication skills. Finalists win the chance to travel to Kennedy Space Center!

Stossel in the Classroom

Stossel in the Classroom wants to know what high school and middle school students think about entrepreneurship and innovation. With $20,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, kids can enter the essay contest or the video contest . There are bonus prizes for teachers too!

United States Academic Decathlon

The United States Academic Decathlon is a 10-event scholastic competition for teams of high school students. Each high school enters a team of nine students: three honors students (3.80–4.00 GPA), three scholastic students (3.20–3.799 GPA), and three varsity students (0.00–3.199 GPA). They’ll need a wide variety of academic knowledge and skills to come out on top!

U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad

This tiered competition for high school students consists of a series of chemistry exams. Local winners move on to the national exam, whose winners participate in a study camp and international exam contest over the summer.

World of 8 Billion Video Contest

Middle and high school students create a short video—up to 60 seconds long—about human population growth that highlights one of the following global challenges: climate change, gender equality, or waste. Kids can win up to $1,200!

Future City

Future City is a project-based learning program in which students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future.

The Hardest Math Problem

This contest challenges students in grades 6–8 to practice critical thinking supported by accurate computation. Both kids and their teachers are eligible for prizes.

New Moon Girls

New Moon Girls publishes contributions from girls ages 8–14. The magazine publishes four times each year, and submissions are more likely to be published if they fit an upcoming editorial theme.

Ocean Awareness Contest

Students ages 11 to 18 can learn about environmental issues through art-making and creative communication, explore their relationship to a changing world, and become advocates for positive change. Submit a piece recognizing climate change heroes, using visual arts, poetry and creative writing, film, performing arts, or multimedia. Prizes include cash awards and eligibility for special opportunities.

Promising Young Writers Program

Teachers and schools can nominate 8th grade students to compete in this contest. Nominees submit a piece of writing based on the year’s prompt. Winners receive certificates in various levels of distinction.

Ranger Rick Photo Contest

Kids 13 and under can enter any nature-themed photo they’ve taken on their own using a camera or phone camera app. Every month, winners will be selected by the judges and posted on the contest homepage in the Recent Contest Winners slideshow. Online winners will be in the running for Ranger Rick’s “Your Best Shots” Magazine Award. Magazine Award winners will be selected three times each year for publication in Ranger Rick magazine’s December–January, April, and August issues.

Rubber Band Contest

This contest challenges students in grades 5–8 to design and create a working invention/artwork that incorporates at least one rubber band. Students can compete in one of two separate divisions: Arts & Leisure or Science & Engineering. Winners receive up to $300.

Young Scientist Challenge

Students in grades 5–8 create a one-to-two-minute video describing a new, innovative solution that could solve an everyday problem. Ten finalists will be chosen for their passion for science, spirit of innovation and ingenuity, and effective communication skills.

YouthPLAYS Prospective Authors

Authors 19 and under can submit a one-act play to the New Voices competition. They’re particularly interested in plays that speak to BIPOC teens and youth.

Doodle for Google

Did you know that each year, one student in grades K–5 has a chance to see their own doodle featured on the Google search page? This annual contest gives kids the opportunity to reach millions of viewers with their design.

New Moon Girls publishes contributions from girls ages 8 to 14. The magazine publishes four times each year, and submissions are more likely to be published if they fit an upcoming editorial theme.

Kids 13 and under can enter any nature-themed photo they’ve taken on their own, using a camera or phone camera app. Every month, winners will be selected by the judges and posted on the contest homepage in the Recent Contest Winners slideshow. Online winners will be in the running for Ranger Rick’s “Your Best Shots” Magazine Award. Magazine Award winners will be selected three times each year for publication in Ranger Rick magazine’s December–January, April, and August issues.

90-Second Newbery Film Festival

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest in which young filmmakers create movies that tell the entire story of a Newbery award–winning book in about 90 seconds. Winning entries are screened at events nationwide including in New York, Chicago, and Boston.

Celebrating Art

This contest is open to K–12 students attending public schools, homeschool, and art studios. Kids and teachers can win prizes, classroom supplies, and more!

Discovery Award

The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Discovery Award provides students in grades 4–12 a unique opportunity to research primary sources and develop outstanding projects that feature unsung heroes who can serve as role models and inspire others to create change.

EngineerGirl Writing Contest

Each year, EngineerGirl sponsors an essay contest with topics centered on the impact of engineering on the world. Students can win up to $500 in prize money. This contest is a nice bridge between ELA and STEM and great for teachers interested in incorporating an interdisciplinary project into their curriculum. It’s open to students in grades 3 and up.

Invention Convention

The Invention Convention program is a K–12 project-based learning curriculum to help students learn to think critically by identifying problems in their world. Inventors and entrepreneurs are invited to compete at prestigious annual events.

NAfME Music Competitions

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) holds multiple music competitions each year for composers and songwriters in several categories. Students of all ages are eligible to win cash prizes.

NASA CineSpace Short Film Competition

Competitors submit a short film inspired by, and using, actual footage from NASA’s digital archives for a chance to earn cash prizes and have their film screened at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, held each November. Although entrants must be at least 18 to enter, parents and guardians can enter submissions on behalf of their children.

NASA Langley Student Art Contest

The contest is open to all K–12 students attending public, private, parochial, and homeschool who are residents of the United States, and grades K–12 of U.S. military members stationed overseas.

National History Bowl

The National History Bowl is a buzzer-based history quiz competition for teams of up to six students ages 19 or younger. Local competitions send their winners on to compete in the national championships.

National PTA Reflections Awards

Students of all ages create and submit original works of art in the areas of dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. Local winners move on to the regional, state, and national levels. National-level awards include an $800 prize and a trip to the National PTA Convention.

National Spelling Bee

Is the country’s next spelling champion in your own classroom? Find out by holding your own spelling bee, then sending the winner on to compete in regional competitions leading to the ultimate national competition. Students up to age 16 are eligible to participate.

PepsiCo Recycle Rally Contests

Encourage friendly competition throughout your K–12 schools or express creativity through writing and designing with a PepsiCo Recycle Rally contest.

Scope Writing Contests

Scope magazine (published by Scholastic) features a wide variety of contests to excite students in grades 4–12 about writing. Plus they can win awesome prizes!

SIBA Invention Competition

The Student Ideas for a Better America contest welcomes applications from pre-K through 12th grade. Enter any idea for a new way to demonstrate an educational concept, an idea for a new product, or an improvement for an existing product or procedure.

Students With Solutions

This project is designed for educators to engage their students in bullying prevention. Students watch a video followed by a handout review. Then they respond to the content in their own creative way through art, writing, graphics, or videos for the chance to win prizes for their school.

Telling Room Founders Prize

Students ages 6–18 can submit fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to The Telling Room . Each year, the Founders Prize is awarded to the best piece of writing to come out of a Telling Room program.

Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest

The Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest inspires creativity in youths ages 4 to 15 and helps them imagine the future of mobility. Kids can win hundreds of dollars in prize money.

Did we miss one of your favorite contests or competitions for high school, middle school, or elementary school students? Come share in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group !

Plus, check out  the ultimate guide to college scholarships ..

Find exciting competitions for high school students, plus middle school and elementary-age kids, in STEM, ELA and the arts, and more.

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Creative Writing Opportunities for High School Students

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If you’re a high school student interested in creative writing, you may or may not have a number of broad extracurricular options to pursue during the school year, depending on your school. You might be a part of your school’s literary magazine, or participate in creative writing workshops. Maybe you are lucky enough to attend a school with dedicated creative writing classes or poetry electives.

But what if your school doesn’t seem to offer much for students who want to pursue creative writing? Or what if you don’t even know where to begin looking? How can you keep your momentum headed towards your goal or otherwise use your time productively if you passionate about creative writing?

There are many activities available to high school students who enjoy creative writing. Some might be available through your school, but many are out there waiting for you to pursue them independently.

In this post, we’ll outline how you can take the initiative to pursue multiple creative writing opportunities both in and out of school. Keep reading to learn more about what opportunities are out there for high school-aged creative writers.

Why Pursue Creative Writing?

There are many reasons to pursue extracurriculars in general. They can serve to strengthen your academic profile, they allow you to pursue interests not otherwise available through traditional classwork, and they can provide valuable, real-world experience.

Creative writing is an extracurricular that is closely tied with your academic coursework in English and Language Arts and in fact is probably a partial requirement of at least some of your English classes. Pursuing it further exemplifies your commitment to the craft and gives you some insight into writing as a possible career path.

It might be easy to think of creative writing as nothing more than a hobby, but in reality many careers exist in which strong writing skills are coveted. By pursuing creative writing, you become well equipped for a career as not only an author or poet, but also in many other fields. We’ll discuss these more in depth at the end of this post.

Opportunities to Pursue Creative Writing

Literary magazine:.

This is the most obvious and most common way to study and produce creative writing in a formal setting at school. Many schools already have a literary magazine established and likely have regular meetings and a faculty adviser equipped to lend insight and advice.

You can usually join your school’s literary magazine at the beginning of a new school year, though you may also be able to join mid-year in some circumstances. Contact the editor or faculty advisor if you want to become involved. Over time you may even be able to take on a leadership role yourself. To learn more about the importance of this, check out CollegeVine’s Your Resume, Revamped: Securing Leadership Positions and Perfecting Your Extracurricular Profile . 

Another way to be involved with the literary magazine, even if you aren’t a part of its team, is to become a regular contributor. This isn’t always easy; some schools have highly competitive literary magazines or only produce one printed edition per year. If this is the case at your school, don’t get discouraged. Submit your best work, learn from feedback, and keep trying.

If your school does not have a literary magazine, you might consider starting one. Begin by talking to other students who have expressed interest in creative writing. Once you have a strong group of interested students, approach a member of your school’s faculty who would make a good adviser.

Your faculty adviser should be someone who has worked closely with you in the past and has some level of expertise in creative writing. Be clear what sort of commitment you are asking for from this person. You may need him or her to be present at every meeting, or you might simply need his or her signature and sporadic stamp of approval. Also remember that you will have some associated costs so having a faculty adviser who can help with fundraising could be important.

Literary magazines provide students interested in creative writing with some general insights into a formal writing publication, a glimpse at the process for submitting work and receiving feedback, and the opportunity to have their writing published for all to see.

Creative Writing Club:

If your school does not have a literary magazine or you are interested in pursuing creative writing in a less formal setting, a creative writing club might be a good bet for you.

These clubs generally operate as regular writing workshops during which students respond to prompts or practice free-writing, and then share their work and offer feedback to others. It is often similar to the submissions approval process at a literary magazine without the stress of possible rejection.

In addition, a creative writing club does not generally produce a publication, though some might print a collection of work at the end of the school year. Again, this differs from the traditional literary magazine because work is selected by the author rather than submitted for acceptance or rejection.

If your school does not have a creative writing club, it is easy to start one. Because there is no associated publication as in the case of a literary magazine, the process is generally less formal. You could meet before or after school and sometimes you don’t even need a faculty adviser; you just need a teacher who’s willing to share classroom space outside of school hours.

Alternatively, you could form a writing club that is completely independent of your school by meeting at the library or a friend’s house. Simply gather creative writing exercises from books or online searches and then gather on a regular basis to respond to them, share work, and offer constructive criticism.

A creative writing club can also be an important accountability tool for students who are working on independent creative writing projects. If you’re writing a longer piece or even a novel, or working on a collection of poetry, meeting regularly with like-minded writers can help to keep you on track and provide outside feedback that might otherwise be unavailable.

Creative Writing Tutor:

If creative writing is your passion and you want to share it with others, you might consider becoming a creative writing tutor for younger students.

Contact a local elementary school and ask if you might be able to volunteer. If so, arrive prepared to lead a small writer’s workshop. Bring any handouts you might need and practice your oral presentation ahead of time. If you need some inspiration for activities, check out the Creative Writing for Children page at PBS parents or the Story Starters page at Scholastic . These kid-friendly writing prompts are sure to inspire even the youngest authors.

If you can’t find a volunteer position at an elementary school, you could try reaching out to other local organizations. Girl or boy scout troops, community centers, or the local library are all possibilities.

Leading a creative writing group for younger students is a great way to hone your own thinking about creative writing, to practice your teaching and leadership skills, and to give back to your community.

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Writing Contests:

If you’re looking for more direction for your writing, and the idea of fame and fortune intrigues you, you should consider entering some writing contests. There are many to choose from, and most offer either cash prizes or scholarship money. Some are also quite prestigious.

For a list of some of the most respected writing contests open to high schoolers, check out The CollegeVine Ultimate Guide to High School Writing Contests .

Summer Programs:

As is now the case for most extracurriculars, there are many strong summer programs to choose from if you’d like to pursue creative writing during your school break. These programs can be competitive to get into and you will usually be required to submit a writing portfolio as a part of your application.

Programs such as these also strengthen your college application and reinforce your commitment to writing. A few of the strongest are:

  • Interlochen
  • Kenyon Review Young Writer’s Workshop
  • California State Summer School for the Arts (Primarily for California residents, but a small number of non-residents are accepted each year.)

Many of these programs have scholarships available, so if finances are a concern, be sure to research a few options before ruling anything out.

In addition, many colleges offer summer programs in creative writing as well. These are usually similar in format to any of the aforementioned summer programs, with the added bonus of allowing you to build connections at colleges or universities that you might wish to attend. 

See if any schools on your list of potential colleges or universities offer summer programs and look into attending those. Otherwise, consider one of the following, which are known for their high quality instruction:

  • Duke Young Writer’s Camp
  • Carleton College Summer Writing Program
  • Stanford Summer Institutes
  • Lewis and Clark Fir Acres Workshop
  • University of Iowa Young Writer’s Studio

Start a Blog

If you find that you are writing often but have nowhere to showcase your work or have trouble holding yourself accountable for producing work on a regular basis, starting your own blog might be a good fit. A blog is a great way to share your writing on a public platform, it can act as an informal portfolio of your work, and it helps to hold you accountable to a larger audience.

Many blogs are easily set up and hosted for free on websites such as WordPress , Blogger , LiveJournal , or Weebly . Share a link to your blog on your social media accounts or send out a group email to let friends and family know about it. As is the case any time you add to your online presence, be sure to discuss your plans with a parent or guardian ahead of time. 

Get Published Elsewhere

A blog isn’t the only platform for publishing your work. Many magazines and periodicals accept submissions from high school students. A long list of publications reviewing high school submissions can be found in the NewPages Young Authors’ Guide . 

You can also check with local publications like newspapers, smaller regional magazines, or even blogs you follow that might accept a guest post.

There are a myriad of ways to get your work to a bigger audience, and if that’s something you’re interested in doing, don’t be shy about asking or even sending unsolicited submissions. All it takes is one person to take a chance on you before you can call yourself a published author.

Career Aspirations for the Creative Writer

It’s easy to think of creative writing as the entry point to becoming a novelist or poet. You might even think that these are your only long-term career options should you choose to pursue creative writing seriously.

This is definitely not the case. Many, many career paths incorporate writing, and while you may not be writing fictional works the entire time, that does not mean that you won’t be incorporating your background in creative writing. All strong writing benefits from creativity.

Writers are especially valued in the fields of:

  • Advertising
  • American Literature
  • Digital Media
  • Educational and Instructional Technology
  • Media Studies
  • Public Relations
  • Radio and Television
  • Sports Communications
  • Technical and Business Writing
  • Webpage and Multimedia Design    

Remember, pursuing creative writing doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write a novel or publish a collection of poetry. Writers have valuable skills that can be applied broadly depending on their others skills and interests.

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good writing competitions for high school students

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Joining competitions is one avenue that you should look into if you want to stand out among other applicants. Diving into academic competitions showcases not just intelligence, but also your tenacity, problem-solving prowess, and ability to excel under pressure – all highly prized qualities by top universities.

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Regional Journalism Competition Attracts High School Students

February 12, 2024

man wearing dark clothes speaking in front of group of students

Students from a dozen local high schools attended the L.A. Regional Journalism Write-Off Competition hosted by CSUN Journalism on Feb. 10. About 70 students competed in News, Novice News, Opinion, Features, Sports and Photo contests to determine who would qualify for the State Competition on April 6. Congratulations to the Sweepstakes winners: Van Nuys High (1st place), El Camino Real Charter High (2nd place) and Daniel Pearl Magnet High (3rd place). Prof. David Blumenkrantz presented on “The Difference Between AI and Real Photography” and Prof. Ruben Keoseyan spoke about “Working in Spanish-Language Journalism” while student entries were being judged by senior CSUN Journalism students. 

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated.

NEWS WRITING

1. Jenny Marquez (Daniel Pearl Magnet)

2. Vanessa Morales (Daniel Pearl Magnet)

3. Isabel Rose (El Camino Real Charter)

4. Sophie Ortega (Daniel Pearl Magnet)

5. Victoria Jimenez (John F. Kennedy High)

6. Olamide Olumide (Van Nuys High)

7. Celine Wang (Harvard-Westlake)

8. Kyleigh Zvara (El Camino Real Charter)

9. Colin Ho (Harvard-Westlake)

10. Sofia Guerra (John F. Kennedy High)

NOVICE NEWS

1. Dana Injan (North Hollywood High)

2. Skylie Molina (Van Nuys High)

3. Delmis Vaquerano (Van Nuys High)

4. Chloe Kim (Harvard-Westlake)

5. Emmeline Chan (Harvard-Westlake)

6. Siyana Da'briel (Alexander Hamilton High)

7. Julie Vasquez (Alexander Hamilton High)

8. Maya Diaz (Van Nuys High)

OPINION WRITING

1. Riya Iyer (Harvard-Westlake)

2. Sydney Keane (El Camino Real Charter)

3. June Peers (Granada Hills Charter)

4. Daimler Koch (Van Nuys High)

5. Abigail Kim (Van Nuys High)

6. Satenik Ayrapetyan (Daniel Pearl Magnet)

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10. Marley Herndon (Alexander Hamilton High)

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1. Alia Galvan (Daniel Pearl Magnet)

2. Ambrielle Ayllon (Alexander Hamilton High)

3. James Reid (John Burroughs High)

4. Kaley Samiian (El Camino Real Charter)

5. Angelina Gevorgyan (Van Nuys High)

6. Antonio Martinez (John F. Kennedy High)

7. T.J. Brunelle (Alexander Hamilton High)

8. Lucina Pineda (John F. Kennedy High)

9. Jenna Espinoza (El Camino Real Charter)

10. Jazmine Valerio (Daniel Pearl Magnet)

SPORTS WRITING

1. Coleton Rice (El Camino Real Charter)

2. Julian Bayan (Granada Hills Charter)

3. Enzo Mendoza (John F. Kennedy High)

4. James Ajin (Hollywood High)

5. Jaden Gervacio (Van Nuys High)

6. Isabel Valles (Van Nuys High)

7. Kasey Lee (El Camino Real Charter)

PHOTOGRAPHY

1. Christopher Monterrosa (Van Nuys High)

2. Rebecca Margolin (El Camino Real Charter)

3. Eliza Lotterstein (El Camino Real Charter)

4. Serena Elkins (Daniel Pearl Magnet)

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Writing Competitions for Law Students: Social Justice

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Sponsors/facilitators of student writing competitions provide more detailed instructions and rules at their websites.  Students need to review the information and rules available at these websites.  

Erik Olin Wright Prize (annual)

  • Sponsor:  Havens Wright Center for Social Justice,  University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Topic: The Havens Wright Center's description notes Professor Wright's " intellectual preoccupations ranged from the analysis of class to the study of real utopias. He engaged theories of the state, economic sociology, and social inequality, always motivated by an explicit commitment to social justice."  This prize is awarded " for a paper by a graduate or professional student that best exemplifies the concerns that animated Wright’s work."  " Eligible submissions can come from any of the social sciences, history, or philosophy, and any professional discipline."
  • Requirements: Student's paper + " A nominating letter from a faculty member familiar with the student’s work."
  • Format: " The student work...can be no more than 15,000 words (excluding references but including footnotes)."
  • Prize: $1,000
  • Deadline: " Submissions, in whole or in part, may be sent between March 1 and April 15 each year and should be sent to [email protected] .  Submissions received after April 15 will not be considered."
  • << Previous: Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Law
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  • Last Updated: Feb 24, 2024 3:58 PM
  • URL: https://guides.brooklaw.edu/writing_competitions

Patch

Oswego Artists Place At 2024 Regional Scholastic Art Competition

O SWEGO, IL — Artists and writers from Oswego High School and Oswego East High School were awarded at the regional Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards competition, district officials announced.

The students' artwork was displayed at Downers Grove North High School, the host school of the Scholastic competition, from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3. Awardees were celebrated at the opening and awards ceremony Jan. 28, also at the Downers Grove school.

By submitting work to the Scholastic competition — considered by many to be the longest-running and most prestigious creative competition in the country — students are given opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships.

The work of Gold Key winners will advance to the national competition in New York later this year.

The following Oswego East High School artists were awarded:

  • Sophia Baczak: "Innocence," ceramics and glass
  • Kate Weiss: "Snooze," drawing and illustration
  • Aditi Buyyanapragada: "Firm" (digital art)
  • Sophia Baczak: "Exploration" (sculpture)
  • Kate Weiss: "Tick Tock" (drawing and illustration)
  • Alexandra Carranza: "Tone Reflect"(digital art)
  • Kylee Green: "Objective: Survive" (digital art)

Honorable Mentions

  • Madelyn Miskiewicz: "Bloodline" (drawing and illustration)
  • Alexandra Carranza: "Burger Love" (drawing and illustration)
  • Alexandra Carranza: "Pancake de Fresa" (drawing and illustration)
  • Camden Schulte: "Focus" (photography)
  • Sam Schulte: "Nautical" (mixed media)

These artists from Oswego High School won awards:

  • Jenna Allen: "Untitled" (ceramics and glass)
  • Jay Dove: "Azi" (digital art)
  • Jay Dove: "Not Quite a Monster Can" (sculpture)
  • Shyann Beasley: "Bond" (painting)
  • Shyann Beasley: "The Looking Glass" (painting)
  • Aniyah Hoy: "Small Colored Pencil Drawing" (drawing and illustration)
  • Jay Dove: "I'm Not Perfect" (painting)
  • Marah Pierce: "Forest" (painting)
  • Marah Pierce: "Happy Birthday" (painting)
  • Emma Trottier: "Untitled" (photography)
  • Amanda Lauck: "Playing in the Spotlight" (photography)
  • Shyann Beasley: "Hope For A Brighter Future" (painting)
  • Liana Melton: "Treasure Chest" (drawing and illustration)
  • Jay Dove: "Understimulation" (painting)
  • Jay Dove: "Body Dysmorphia" (painting)
  • Jay Dove: "Short Temper" (painting)
  • Jay Dove: "But You Don't Look Tired" (drawing and illustration)
  • Jay Dove: "Mortality" (portfolio category)
  • Marah Pierce: "Still life" (drawing and illustration)
  • Joelynn Portillo: "The Wrong Side Up" (drawing and illustration)
  • Joelynn Portillo: "The Selcouth of Life" (drawing and illustration)
  • Olivia Pastore: "My Father's Father" (drawing and illustration)
  • Alanna Kozbiel: "Violence for Violence is the Rule of Beasts" (drawing and illustration)
  • Alanna Kozbiel: "My Little Brother" (drawing and illustration)
  • Alanna Kozbiel: "True Reflection" (painting)
  • Alanna Kozbiel: "It's What's on the Inside That Counts!" (mixed media)
  • Alanna Kozbiel: "Connected" (drawing and illustration)
  • Quinn Wille: "I Still Need You…" (mixed media)
  • Dune Stearman: "Final Leap" (mixed media)
  • Amanda Lauck: "Checkmate" (photography)
  • Amanda Lauck: "Love Letter" (photography)

The article Oswego Artists Place At 2024 Regional Scholastic Art Competition appeared first on Oswego Patch .

By submitting work to the Scholastic competition — considered by many to be the longest-running and most prestigious creative competition in the country — students are given opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships.

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    There are tons of writing contests for high school students, which can award everything from medals to cash prizes to scholarships if you win.

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    1. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose Type: Poetry and Prose Submission Fee: $15 Prize: $200 Deadline: May 1, 2023 Eligibility: All secondary and undergraduate students Guidelines: Each student may send up to five total submissions across the genres of poetry and prose

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    1. American Foreign Service National High School Essay Contest Location: Online Cost: Free Contest Dates: Accepting applications from October 2, 2023 Application Deadline: April 1, 2024, at 11:59 PM EDT Eligibility: Open to students in grades 9-12 attending a U.S. high school, or equivalent.

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    One of the widely-known creative writing competitions for high school students is the River of Words Poetry and Art Contest. It is an esteemed international youth competition, motivating students to articulate their environmental observations through art and poetry.

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    1. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards With a wide range of categories—from critical essays to science fiction and fantasy—The Scholastic Awards are a mainstay of student contests. Each category has its own rules and word counts, so be sure to check out the options before you decide which one is best for your students. How To Enter

  6. Top 20 Best Writing Contests for High School Students

    1. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose Hosting institution: The Adroit Journal Awards: $200 Writing prompt availability: n/a Submission deadline: Mid-May The submission guidelines for this writing contest are very nuanced; in short, you can send up to 5 "packets" of writing.

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  9. 90+ Writing Competitions That Are Open to High School Students

    Explore our guide to over 90 writing competitions for high school students, featuring a variety of genres including poetry, prose, and essays. Find key contests like The Adroit Prizes and National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, offering opportunities for awards and scholarships.

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    The Best Writing Contests of 2024 Writing competitions curated by Reedsy Genre All Children's Christian Crime Essay Fantasy Fiction Flash Fiction Horror Humor LGBTQ Memoir Mystery Non-fiction Novel Novella Poetry Romance Science Writing Submit it here We made a writing app for you Yes, you! Write. Format.

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    Apprentice Writer Susquehanna University and the Writers Institute initiative invite high school students to submit fiction, memoir, personal essay , poetry and photography for the thirty-ninth volume of Apprentice Writer, which will be published in the fall of 2021 Deadline: submissions are accepted from September 15 , 2020 to March 15 2021

  12. The CollegeVine Ultimate Guide to High School Writing Contests

    The CollegeVine Ultimate Guide to High School Writing Contests Do you have a plan for applying to college? With our free chancing engine, admissions timeline, and personalized recommendations, our free guidance platform gives you a clear idea of what you need to be doing right now and in the future. Sign Up for Free

  13. The 35 Best Writing Contests for High School Students

    Participating in writing contests can be an excellent way for high school students to showcase their creativity, hone their writing skills, and gain recognition for their talent. These contests provide a platform for young writers to express themselves, explore different genres, and connect with a community of like-minded individuals. Winning or being recognized in these contests can boost ...

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    YoungArts Competitions for High School Students. Genres: Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Visual. Arts, Voice, Writing. Award: Up to $10,000 and national recognition. Eligibility: US citizens and permanent resident/green card recipients in grades 10-12 or. 15-18 years of age on December 1, 2023.

  15. 20 Writing Competitions for High School Students

    In this blog post, we have compiled a list of 20 writing competitions for high school students that are reputable, prestigious, and even offer valuable rewards! Whether you are passionate about poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or playwriting, there is a competition on this list that will suit your interests and showcase your talent.

  16. Writing Competitions for High School Students

    Provides recognition IV. Builds a writing community What are the Best Writing Competitions for High School Students in 2023? Best Academic Essay: OxBright Essay Competition 2024 Best Fantasy: L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest Best Historical Fiction: Young Walter Scott Prize

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    Jan 22, 2024 We tell students that learning is its own reward, and that's certainly true. But it's also nice to win money and other prizes! Knowing they could gain recognition or even a prize for winning can be incredibly motivating.

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    For a list of some of the most respected writing contests open to high schoolers, check out The CollegeVine Ultimate Guide to High School Writing Contests. Summer Programs: As is now the case for most extracurriculars, there are many strong summer programs to choose from if you'd like to pursue creative writing during your school break.

  19. Story Writing Competitions for High School Students ...

    Certainly! Creative writing competitions are a fantastic way to showcase your talents, explore your interests, and potentially even earn awards or recognition. There are several nationwide contests and platforms that cater to high school students. Here are a few to consider: 1. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: One of the most prestigious contests for students in grades 7-12, with multiple ...

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    CSUN Journalism senior Rodrigo Hernandez speaks to high school students about the recent student reporting trip to Uvalde, Texas. Content from his presentation was used by students to competing in the news and opinion writing contests. Students from a dozen local high schools attended the L.A. Regional Journalism Write-Off Competition hosted by ...

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    Career & College Services for High School. Find a School. Courses & Curriculum. Career Prep Curriculum Career Prep Course List & Sample Courses Project-Based Learning ... K12's Annual National Spelling Bee is an epic competition where students in grades 3-12 demonstrate their language arts skills in a fun environment. Spelling Bee Video ...

  24. Oak Lawn Spartans Collect Keys In Prestigious Art Competition

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  27. Writing Competitions for Law Students: Social Justice

    Erik Olin Wright Prize . Sponsor: Havens Wright Center for Social Justice, University of Wisconsin - Madison Topic: The Havens Wright Center's description notes Professor Wright's "intellectual preoccupations ranged from the analysis of class to the study of real utopias. He engaged theories of the state, economic sociology, and social inequality, always motivated by an explicit commitment ...

  28. Oswego Artists Place At 2024 Regional Scholastic Art Competition

    O SWEGO, IL — Artists and writers from Oswego High School and Oswego East High School were awarded at the regional Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards competition, district officials announced ...