*** The 2015-2016 Young Patriots Essay Contest is now closed. Click here to be taken to the 2016-2017 contest page***
Need money for college?
The National Center for Policy Analysis and Debate Central are happy to announce the 2015-2016 Young Patriots Essay Contest, Sponsored by Copart. Entrants have the opportunity to showcase their writing skills and compete for $9,000 in scholarship money.
The Young Patriots Essay Contest is designed to challenge middle and high school students to creatively engage with public policy and current events through the art of writing. We assign a controversial topic each year, and THREE winners are chosen to receive a scholarship out of hundreds of essay submissions. Find the topic and entry instructions below!
Last year’s first place contest winner receiving his scholarship award.
The topic for the 2015-2016 scholarship essay contest is:
“Should the emerging and ongoing threat of global terrorism change how we view government surveillance as it relates to the 4th Amendment? Why or Why Not?”
Contest participants have the opportunity to:
- Earn a college scholarship of up to $5,000.
- Have your essay published on Debate Central.
- See your essay posted on the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) home page.
- Have your essay shared with 350,000 NCPA Policy Patriots via email.
- Have your winning entry be sent to your hometown newspapers, radio and TV.
Please read the following pieces as you consider the above topic:
The first two are required. The third is optional, but strongly recommended. Your submission will be graded in part according to how carefully and thoughtfully you engage with these challenging articles. They are:
- “The Dangers of NSA Surveillance,” by Neil M. Richards for the Harvard Law Review
- “NSA Surveillance in Perspective,” by Roger Pilon and Richard A. Epstein of the Cato Institute
- Strongly recommended, but not required: Debate Central’s Government Surveillance Topic Paper
You may incorporate outside research into your writing. Although this is not required, it may improve the overall quality of your essay. Make sure to include a bibliography citing any outside sources you choose to reference. Your bibliography does not count against your word total.
Entries will be judged on the quality of their writing (style and mechanics), their level of engagement with the topic, and the strength of their reasoning. Essays that make an argument and support it well will out-perform essays that only provide a neutral overview of both sides. Judges will not consider their personal feelings on the topic when evaluating the essays.
How to Enter:
Please submit your essay using the form below.
Your essay should be written in English and should not exceed 1,200 words.
Your bibliography does NOT count towards your word total.
All essays must be submitted by Tuesday, January 5 2016 at 11:00pm CT. No late submissions will be accepted.
See the FAQ below for questions regarding the entry process. If your question is not covered, please leave it in the comment section.
***Entries for the 2015-2016 Contest are no longer being accepted at this time. Please check back for the launch of the 2016-2017 contest this summer!***
Young Patriots Submission Guidelines
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. How should I format my entry?
A. Essays should be written in English, and should not exceed 1,200 words (excluding the bibliography). Essays exceeding this length will not be considered. Submit using the form on this page.
Q. How do I submit my entry?
Use the form on this page above.
Q. What happens if I exceed the word limit?
A. Your essay will not be considered. There is no word minimum.
Your bibliography (citations section) does not count towards the word limit.
Q. Who is eligible to enter?
A. Any American citizen or lawful resident who is currently a student in grades 6-12, or recent high school graduates who have never enrolled as a degree-seeking student in any college or university.
If you have enrolled in a college course for dual credit during high school, you are still eligible.
One other caveat: if you have ever won first place in a previous year’s Young Patriots Essay Contest, you are not eligible to win again.
Q. Are homeschool students eligible?
Q. Are international students eligible?
A. Only if they meet certain conditions. American citizens residing abroad are eligible. Non-citizen legal residents are also eligible. International students who do not meet these criteria are not eligible.
Q. How can I spend the scholarship money?
A. For tuition or related expenses at a college or university of your choice. You are NOT allowed to spend the money on non-educational expenses.
Q. Can I choose to remain anonymous?
A. No. We must be able to publish both your essay and name.
Q. How should I format citations?
A. If you only reference the required/recommended readings, no bibliography/”Works Cited” section is necessary.
If you use outside research, citations should be listed in a bibliography section at the end of the document. You may use any recognized citation style (e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago).
The bibliography will not be included in your overall word count.
Q. Is there anything else you can tell me about how to stand out from the crowd?
A. Yes. Here are a few suggestions for participants:
- Stick to the subject and topic. Displaying a strong writing style is essential, but the substance of your essay is the most important part. If you write a fantastic essay that doesn’t address the central question, you won’t win.
- Submit a professional document. Double check grammar and spelling and try to make rambling sentences more concise.
- Follow and demonstrate a clear vision. This contest leaves lots of room to address the subject in a variety of ways. Students should attempt to be creative, clear and persuasive in their approach to the topic.
- Include your perspective on the works. Show us that you have read and considered the material. Do not simply summarize the readings but rather explain how they influence your thinking on the issue.
Q. Do I need to agree with the recommended readings’ authors?
The short answer: No. The longer answer: No, but you should warrant your disagreement with outside sources and research. Make sure your argument is complete, articulate and supported. Avoid ad hominem attacks that indict the author without properly considering the merit of the argument.
You should also note that there is one required reading supporting both “sides” of the topic.
Q. Is there just one prize?
A. No. First, second and third prizes will be awarded in the amounts of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500 respectively.
PRIVACY: This scholarship is provided by the National Center for Policy Analysis, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public policy organization. Funding comes from private donors. Any personal information collected from non-winning entries is used only in aggregate to gauge participation statistics, and will never be otherwise distributed. Contest winners must agree to have their name, school, grade level, hometown, and essay made public for site usage, NCPA newsletter, etc. Beyond the initial confirmation message, contest entry will not result in any further communication or solicitation from Debate Central, the NCPA, or contest donors. We will never sell or otherwise distribute your personal information to third parties.
Any questions? Leave them in the comments. We’ll get back to you right away.