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 cash prizes.



ARI has held worldwide essay contests for students on Ayn Rand’s fiction for thirty years. This year we will award over 400 prizes totaling more than $50,000.



To stay informed about contest deadlines and other student updates, register here. Questions? Write to us at essay@aynrand.org.



 

COMPARING ANTHEM AND THE FOUNTAINHEAD

Subjects of our two most popular essay contests
 

Contest Details

    • Eligibility

      8th, 9th and 10th GRADERS


      Entry Deadline:

      March 25, 2016

      • 1st place
        $2,000
        1 Winner
      • 2nd place
        $500
        5 Winners
      • 3rd place
        $200
        10 Winners
      • Finalists
        $50
        45 Winners
      • Semifinalists
        $30
        175 Winners

      Special Regional Contests

      Students in the following states are eligible
      for additional prize money:

      • CHICAGOLAND

        All schools located in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin


        Winner: $2,000 (1 Winner)

        Finalists: $500 (3 Winners)


      Entry into all regional contests is based on home and school residence and is automatically submitted to the national contest. The essays with the top scores from each region will determine the winners and finalists. Winners will be notified by July 28, 2016. Email essays@AynRand.org for further information.

    • Select ONE of the following three topics:

      • “It is a sin to write this.” So begins Anthem. But by the end of the story, Equality 7-2521 has a different moral assessment of his action. Do you think Equality’s eventual assessment of his sin is correct? Why or why not? Explain.
      • By the end of the story, Equality 7-2521 has changed his mind and become very critical of the leaders of his society, denouncing them in moral terms. Do you think he is correct to do so? Why or why not? Do you think he would agree with the advice that Rand offers in her short essay “How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?”? Explain.
      • Anthem portrays a totalitarian world of the future. In contrast to other such portrayals, the world of Anthem is technologically primitive. What does this imply about the nature of science and technology and the conditions for technological progress, and how do events of the story establish that view?
    • 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 or 10th grade. Verification of school enrollment will be required for all winning entrants.
      • 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.
      • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by March 25, 2016, no later than 11:59 PM, 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.
      • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail by July 28, 2016.
      • 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 will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

      Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

    • 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

      11th and 12th GRADERS


      Entry Deadline:

      April 29, 2016

      • 1st place
        $10,000
        1 Winner
      • 2nd place
        $2,000
        5 Winners
      • 3rd place
        $1,000
        10 Winners
      • Finalists
        $100
        45 Winners
      • Semifinalists
        $50
        175 Winners

      Special Regional Contests

      Students in the following states are eligible
      for additional prize money:

      • CHICAGOLAND

        All schools located in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin


        Winner: $2,000 (1 Winner)

        Runner-Up: $1,000 (1 Winner)

        Finalists: $500 (3 Winners)

      • COLORADO

        All schools located in the state of Colorado


        Winner: $500 (3 Winners)


      Entry into all regional contests is based on home and school residence and is automatically submitted to the national contest. The essays with the top scores from each region will determine the winners and finalists. Winners will be notified by July 28, 2016. Email essays@AynRand.org for further information.

    • Select ONE of the following three topics:

      • When Roark refuses the Manhattan Bank Building contract he says that this is “the most selfish thing you’ve ever seen a man do.” And in his courtroom speech, he argues for selfishness and egoism and against the conventional morality of altruism. Do you think he is correct to praise selfishness and denounce altruism? Why or why not? Explain.
      • Ellsworth Toohey and Gail Wynand both spend much of their lives consciously seeking power over others. But is their quest for power the same? How do each man’s goals and motivations contrast to those of Roark?
      • In the characters of Dominique Francon and Howard Roark, The Fountainhead offers an uncompromising approach to life. Do you think this approach to life is practical? Why or why not? Judging both from the novel and from what Rand writes in her short essay “Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?” do you think Rand thinks the approach is practical? Explain.

    • 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. Verification of school enrollment will be required for all winning entrants.
      • 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.
      • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by April 29, 2016, no later than 11:59 PM, 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.
      • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail by July 28, 2016.
      • 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 will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

      Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

    • 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

      12th Graders, College Undergraduates, and Graduate Students


      Entry Deadline:

      April 28th, 2017

      • 1st place
        $20,000
        1 Winner
      • 2nd place
        $2,000
        3 Winners
      • 3rd place
        $1,000
        5 Winners
      • Finalists
        $100
        25 Winners
      • Semifinalists
        $50
        50 Winners
    • Select ONE of the following three topics:

      • Francisco d’Anconia says that the “words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.” What does he mean? What are today’s prevalent moral attitudes toward money? Do you agree with Francisco’s view? Explain why or why not.
      • Atlas Shrugged is both a celebration of business and a defense of it against widespread attacks. Judging both from the novel and from Rand’s essay “What Is Capitalism?” and her talk “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business,” why does she think business should be defended and championed? What does she think is a proper defense of business, and why?
      • Ragnar Danneskjöld says he loves that which has rarely been loved, namely, human ability. What do you think this means? How does it relate to the idea: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”? Do you agree or disagree with Ragnar’s attitude? Explain.
    • 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. Verification of school enrollment will be required for all winning entrants.
      • 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.
      • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by April 28, 2017, no later than 11:59 PM, 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.
      • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail by July 26, 2017.
      • 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 will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

      Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

    • 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, 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 essay@aynrand.org.

  • I'm a foreign student, 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 essay@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 via our web form, posted here, we will reply to your message and notify you that we received your essay.

  • How can I submit my essay via email?

    If you wish to submit your essay via our web form, please follow the guidelines posted here.

  • 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 essay@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 essay@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 not in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade; may I still enter the Anthem contest?

    Unfortunately, we cannot accept entries from students who are not in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade.

  • I am not in the 11th or 12th grade; may I still enter The Fountainhead contest?

    Unfortunately, we cannot accept entries from students who are not in the 11th or 12th 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 will contact all the Anthem and The Fountainhead contest entrants by July 26. We will contact Atlas Shrugged entrants by December 23.

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

    No. You may enter one essay 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.

  • Where can I learn more about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism?

    Additional information about Ayn Rand and her philosophy is available on our website. You will find biographical information on Ayn Rand and additional information about her philosophy, Objectivism.

  • 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 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 essay@aynrand.org. In most cases, we should be able to respond within two to five business days.