FORSTUDENTS

We offer an array of educational programs to enable students at all levels of knowledge to learn about Ayn Rand’s philosophy and novels.

Program Overview

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



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



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



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

 

COMPARING ANTHEM AND THE FOUNTAINHEAD

Subjects of our two most popular essay contests
 

Contest Details

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



      Eligibility for Anthem

      8th, 9th and 10th GRADE


      Entry Deadline:

      April 25, 2019

      • 1st place
        $2,000
        1 Winner
      • 2nd place
        $250
        3 Winners
      • 3rd place
        $100
        5 Winners
      • Finalists
        $25
        50 Winners

      Eligibility for Anthem

      11th and 12th GRADE


      Entry Deadline:

      April 25, 2019

      • 1st place
        $2,000
        1 Winner
      • 2nd place
        $250
        3 Winners
      • 3rd place
        $100
        5 Winners
      • Finalists
        $25
        50 Winners
    • Select ONE of the following three topics:

      • Near the end of the story, Prometheus writes that “the day will come when I shall . . . raze the cities of the enslaved” and that “the Councils of my brothers will be impotent against me.” Why do you think Prometheus foresees a struggle with his collectivist world? Why does he think he will prevail? For your essay, consider also what Ayn Rand writes in this excerpt from her novel The Fountainhead, titled “The Soul of an Individualist.”
      • The old locks and lack of guards in the Palace of Corrective Detention indicate that prisoners never try to escape. Why do you think they do not? In your essay, consider the following excerpt from Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, titled “The Soul of a Collectivist.”
      • Does the World Council of Scholars reject Equality only because he is different or for some additional reason? What is it about Equality, specifically, that they are so opposed to, and what do you think motivates their opposition toward him? Explain your answer.
    • Criteria

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

    • Requirements

      • No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
      • Entrant must be in the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at the time of the current contest deadline. ARI reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years.
      • To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
        1. 1. your name and address;
        2. 2. your email address (if available);
        3. 3. the name and address of your school;
        4. 4. topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
        5. 5. your current grade level; and
        6. 6. (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
      • Essay must be no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,200 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
      • One entry per student per contest.
      • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by April 15, 2019, no later than 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.
      • The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
      • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
      • Decisions of the judges are final.
      • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
      • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.
      • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail typically by July 2019.
      • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
      • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow ARI to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
      • Winners also grant to the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for nonprofit purposes, including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
      • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever, regarding the above.
      • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

      Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

    • ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

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

      The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

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

      • 1. If you do not already have an account at AynRand.org, create an account by clicking “Register” page or “Sign In” if you already have an account. You must be signed in on AynRand.org to submit your essay.
      • 2. Click the “Submit your essay online” button below.
      • 3. You will then be taken to our Education Programs web portal. Once there, complete the eligibility quiz identifying yourself as a Non-Educator.
      • 4. Next, click on the “View Programs” button.
      • 5. Create a submission for the Anthem essay contest.
      • 6. Complete the application form.
      Submit Your Essay Online

      Or mail your essay with stapled cover sheet to:

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

      Please do not submit duplicate essays!

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

    • Eligibility for The Fountainhead

      11th and 12th GRADE


      Entry Deadline:

      April 25, 2019

      • 1st place
        $10,000
        1 Winner
      • 2nd place
        $2,500
        3 Winners
      • 3rd place
        $500
        5 Winners
      • Finalists
        $50
        50 Winners

    • Select ONE of the following three topics:

      • In his climactic courtroom speech, Howard Roark states: “The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite’s concern is the conquest of men.” Explain how this quote relates to the theme as dramatized through the characters of Howard Roark, Peter Keating and Ellsworth Toohey.
      • When Toohey first meets his niece Catherine, he is described as seeing a particular look on her face. What is the significance of his reaction to her look? How does his treatment of Catherine through the rest of the novel encapsulate his overall strategy for dealing with the world? For your essay, consider also what Ayn Rand says in the essay “Through Your Most Grievous Fault.”
      • Choose the scene in The Fountainhead that is most meaningful to you. Analyze that scene in terms of the wider themes in the book. In your essay, consider also what Ayn Rand has to say about what art, including literature, can do for us, in this excerpt from “The Goal of My Writing.”
    • Criteria

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

    • Requirements

      • No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
      • Entrant must be in the 11th or 12th grade for any part of the school year in which the contest is held. ARI reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years.
      • To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
        1. 1. your name and address;
        2. 2. your email address (if available);
        3. 3. the name and address of your school;
        4. 4. topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
        5. 5. your current grade level; and
        6. 6. (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
      • Essay must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
      • One entry per student per contest.
      • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by April 25, 2019, no later than 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.
      • The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
      • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
      • Decisions of the judges are final.
      • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
      • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.
      • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail typically by July 2019.
      • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
      • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow ARI to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
      • Winners also grant to the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for nonprofit purposes, including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
      • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever regarding the above.
      • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

      Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

    • ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

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

      The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

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

      • 1. If you do not already have an account at AynRand.org, create an account by clicking “Register” page or “Sign In” if you already have an account. You must be signed in on AynRand.org to submit your essay.
      • 2. Click the “Submit your essay online” button below.
      • 3. You will then be taken to our Education Programs web portal. Once there, complete the eligibility quiz identifying yourself as a Non-Educator.
      • 4. Next, click on the “View Programs” button.
      • 5. Create a submission for the The Fountainhead essay contest.
      • 6. Complete the application form.
      Submit Your Essay Online

      Or mail your essay with stapled cover sheet to:

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

      Please do not submit duplicate essays!

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

    • Eligibility for Atlas Shrugged

      12th Graders, College Undergraduates and Graduate Students


      Entry Deadline:

      January 15, 2019

      • 1st place
        $25,000
        1 Winner
      • 2nd place
        $2,500
        3 Winners
      • 3rd place
        $500
        5 Winners
      • Finalists
        $100
        50 Winners
    • Select ONE of the following three topics:

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

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

    • Requirements

      • No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
      • Entrant must be a 12th grader, college undergraduate or graduate student for any part of the school year in which the contest is held. ARI reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years.
      • To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
        1. 1. your name and address;
        2. 2. your email address (if available);
        3. 3. the name and address of your school;
        4. 4. topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
        5. 5. your current grade level; and
        6. 6. (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
      • Essay must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
      • One entry per student per contest.
      • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by January 15, 2019, no later than 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.
      • The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
      • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
      • Decisions of the judges are final.
      • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
      • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.
      • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail typically by April 2019.
      • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
      • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow ARI to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
      • Winners also grant to the Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for nonprofit purposes including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
      • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever regarding the above.
      • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

      Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

    • ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

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

      The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

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

      • 1. If you do not already have an account at AynRand.org, create an account by clicking “Register” page or “Sign In” if you already have an account. You must be signed in on AynRand.org to submit your essay.
      • 2. Click the “Submit your essay online” button below.
      • 3. You will then be taken to our Education Programs web portal. Once there, complete the eligibility quiz identifying yourself as a Non-Educator.
      • 4. Next, click on the “View Programs” button.
      • 5. Create a submission for the Atlas Shrugged essay contest.
      • 6. Complete the application form.
      Submit Your Essay Online

      Or mail your essay with stapled cover sheet to:

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

      Please do not submit duplicate essays!

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

Past Winners

FAQ

  • I'm a home-schooled student, so can I still enter the contest?

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

  • I'm a foreign student, so can I still enter the contest?

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

  • How can I verify that my essay was received?

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

  • I included a self-addressed, stamped postcard with my essay, but I haven’t received it back in the mail yet. What should I do?

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

  • Can I send my essay in before the deadline ?

    Yes!

  • Can I send my essay in after the deadline ?

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

  • I entered one of your contests in a previous year; can I enter again this year?

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

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

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

  • If I win, do I have to apply the prize money toward college?

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

  • Do I need to include a bibliography or do I need to reference page numbers?

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

  • Should I cite other sources besides the novel I’m writing on?

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

  • Can I have a friend/teacher/parent proofread my essay? Is that plagiarism?

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

  • What exactly is plagiarism?

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

  • How do I know if I’ve won a prize in one of the contests?

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

  • Can I write more than one entry for a contest?

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

  • I am eligible to enter more than one contest. Can I submit essays to more than one of your contests?

    Yes! You are welcome to enter multiple contests.

  • Can I write on more than one topic?

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

  • Can I write on a topic other than the three listed in the contest rules?

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

  • Where can I find a copy of the novel I want to write on?

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

  • Is it necessary for me to know about Objectivism to write my essay?

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

  • I disagree with Ayn Rand’s philosophy; how will this affect my chances of winning?

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

  • Are graduate students eligible for the Atlas Shrugged contest?

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

  • Are community college students eligible for the Atlas Shrugged contest?

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

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

    No.

  • Is there an age limit for the Atlas Shrugged contest?

    No.

  • Are trade/certificate schools accepted?

    Yes.

  • Can someone who is in the military, but who is enrolled in school, enter the essay contests?

    Yes.

  • I have additional questions not answered in this FAQ; what should I do?

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