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Essay Contests For College Students 2013

While other, more practical students spent their summers entering realistic and potentially profitable scholarship contests, I spent the month of August reading Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.

As anyone familiar with the book will be able to tell you, this was no weekend read. 1,069 pages of tiny print—and, at one point in the novel, a fifty-page-long speech on the light topic of objectivism.

What lured me into such an ambitious commitment? An Atlas Shrugged*essay contest I found amongst my Fastweb scholarship matches, of course.

I entered this reading marathon with two convictions—the first, that I would read the novel slowly and painfully and thoroughly abhor it—the second, that my perseverance in the face of a thousand pages would be rewarded with the ten thousand dollars offered as first prize.

After all, I figured, how many people actually bothered to read this thing?

My first surprise came when, twenty pages in, I realized that I was enjoying the read. Just as the back cover had promised, Atlas Shrugged was “unlike any other book” I had ever read.

I found myself eagerly reading through my thirty-six-page-a-day quota. The prose were well-written, the characters interesting and unexpected, the plot line surprisingly fast-paced and Ayn Rand’s ideas challenging and thought-provoking. In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My second surprise came when I bothered to skim through the past winners of the essay contest. I found students—college students—from places like Princeton and Harvard—taking second and third place. Then I actually read some of the winning essays—and realized that my chances of winning were slimmer than I had thought.

I am actually taking a break from my Atlas Shrugged essay in order to write this article. Just as the novel was “unlike any other book” I had ever read, the essay is proving to be unlike any other essay I have ever written. The competition is forcing me to write with clearer, more articulate wording and maintain stronger organization than ever before.

My point in all of this? You don’t always get the sort of experiences you expect. I might not win any sort of scholarship, but the experience I gained from entering this contest has prepared me for the more challenging work I will hopefully find in my college years and has sparked my desire for deeper, more meaningful reading.

Contrary to popular belief, scholarships can be about more than money. (Though it would be nice if I could win something, too.)

*Note: the deadline for the Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest was September 17, 2013, but there are plenty of other scholarships you can apply for – just check out your scholarship matches on Fastweb!

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What scholarship experiences have surprised you?

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Essay Contest

During the month of August International Student hosted an essay contest, encouraging everyone to submit their best short essay for a chance to win a gift card of their choice in the amount of $200 (first place), $75 (second place), and $25 (third place).

In addition to the winnings, the three winners receive the honor of having their essay and short bio, published on International Student – a site reaching millions of international students each year.

Congratulations to all the Finalists!

The response to the contest was tremendous and we thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your submissions. It is our pleasure to present the following finalists essays.

View the finalists and winners

*Rules & Regulations for the 2013 International Student Essay Contest:

  1. The deadline for applications is 5:00 PM, EST on Saturday, August 31, 2013. Applications submitted after that time will not be accepted.
  2. Three winners (first, second, and third place) will be selected by an judging panel consisting of International Student employees.
  3. You must be 18 or older and be a resident in a jurisdiction in which the International Student Essay Contest and all of its terms and conditions are compliant with all applicable laws. In addition, you must reside in a jurisdiction in which payment to you of the prize money is not prohibited by any US federal, state or other applicable laws.
  4. Your essay entry will be the property of InternationalStudent.com.
  5. The winner of the International Student Essay Contest will be announced on our website and social media the week of September 23, 2013.
  6. The winner will also be notified by email.

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