The Living Soil Essay Contest Scholarships

Nearly a decade ago, I stumbled across the Atlas Shrugged Scholarship. I had never heard of the author, Ayn Rand, but I needed money for college and this essay contest offered a $10,000 top prize, so I headed to my local library to grab a copy. When I finally located it on a shelf, I could not believe the size of the work – 1075 pages. Whoa! The scholarship deadline was in three weeks, and I seriously doubted my ability to absorb so much material in so little time. Fortunately, the characters in the novel were so compelling that I found it hard to put away and finished it in a matter of days. Although I did not win the scholarship, the novel’s underlying themes stayed with me, challenging what I believed to be essential truths about being human and how one should treat others. Ayn Rand was the creator of Objectivism, a philosophy she described as, ‘…the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.’ Most of her work introduces you to the tenets of this philosophy, but even if you disagree with many of its points, her novels do make you think about your role in the world. Although Rand died in 1982, the Ayn Rand Institute continues to open minds, and doors, for students through its many scholarship programs. Each year, over 600 students receive awards to help further their academic studies, with prizes ranging from $25 to $10,000. Here is a short overview of each program and who is eligible to participate.  

The Fountainhead Essay Contest

Who: High school juniors and seniors Number of Awards: 236 Value: $50 to $10,000 Deadline: April 26

We the Living Essay Contest

Who: High school sophomores, juniors and seniors Number of Awards: 116 Value: $25 to $3,000 Deadline: May 6

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Who: High school seniors, undergraduates and graduate students Number of Awards: 84 Value: $50 to $10,000 Deadline: September 17

Anthem Essay Contest

Who: 8th, 9th and 10th grade students Number of Awards: 236 Value: $30 to $2,000 Deadline: March 2014 (TBA)

In 1999, HBO® produced a movie, The Passion of Ayn Rand, with Helen Mirren and Eric Stoltz, and Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, is currently being filmed (part III). Those who would like to know more about Rand and her philosophy should visit the Ayn Rand Institute online.

We are delighted to announce the 2017-2018 Live Deliberately Essay Contest prompt!

 

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked,

in which you can walk with love and reverence.

—Journal, October 18, 1855

Essay Prompt: In an essay of 750 words or fewer, describe a time in your life when you pursued a path that was “narrow and crooked,” but felt like it was the right path for you. In what ways are/were you able to, as Thoreau advises, walk that path with “love and reverence?” How has navigating that path shaped you into the person you are becoming?

To participate in the 2017-2018 Essay Contest, please read the Contest Guidelines and then submit your essay here. The deadline for submission is Midnight (EST) on March 15, 2018.

PLEASE DO NOT JUST SUBMIT YOUR "COLLEGE ESSAY." ENTRIES WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED UNLESS THEY CLEARLY ADDRESS THIS SPECIFIC PROMPT.


Essay Contest Information and Timeline

Each year, the Live Deliberately Essay Contest invites youth from around the world, ages 14-21, to consider a selected Henry David Thoreau quotation and accompanying prompt. Contestants are asked to write a thoughtful essay that uses personal experience and observation to demonstrate how that year's quotation and prompt relate to their own lives and to the world around them. Like Thoreau, these young people use the power of their words to convey vivid stories, personal conviction and human compassion.

The contest has three age groups: 14-16, 17-18, and 19-21. One winner will be identified in each age group and will receive a $250 cash prize, plus an autographed special edition of Walden.  Essays may also be selected to receive Honorable Mention in each age group, which will be awarded with an autographed special edition of Walden.

The deadline for essay submission for the 2017-2018 contest will be March 15, 2018. Each essay is reviewed by at least two readers and results will be announced by the end of April.

Please read the Contest Guidelines for more information about the Contest and some tips to help you write your essay.

For information about past contest winners and to read their essays, click here.


The Live Deliberately Essay Contest is guided by the talented members of the Essay Contest Advisory Board:

  • Sam Corron, Walden Woods Project's Social Media and Communications Coordinator
  • Lindsay Dent, high school English teacher in Georgia and Approaching Walden Alum
  • Susan Licher, Walden Woods Project's Education Programs Assistant
  • Jessica Moore Kaplan, Boston-based editor and producer
  • Patricia Smith, high school English teacher in Virginia and Approaching Walden Alum

Additionally, our contest is made possible by a number of thoughtful volunteer Guest Readers during each review cycle.  To learn more about the roles of both the Advisory Board and the Guest Readers, download the Live Deliberately Essay Contest Volunteer Opportunities (PDF).

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