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10 Writing Competitions for High School Students in 2023-2024

Are you a high school student who likes to write? Here are ten writing competitions for high school students in 2023-2024.

Are you an aspiring novelist, a hobby writer, or a burgeoning poet? Have you tried your hand at nonfiction essays or playwriting? If so, you might be a great candidate for a national, regional, or state writing competition for high school students. Although specifics of each competition vary widely, these are usually great opportunities to showcase your talents, win some scholarship money, and buff up your writer’s resume. You might even get the chance to publish your work in a major journal or literary magazine or gain a mentor.

Here are ten writing competitions with deadlines during the 2023-2024 school year that you can start preparing yourself for right now. While most of these competitions are only for U.S. citizens, some are open to international students as well. Check each competition’s webpage for more information.

YoungArts Competitions for High School Students

Genres: Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Visual

Arts, Voice, Writing

Award: Up to $10,000 and national recognition

Eligibility: US citizens and permanent resident/green card recipients in grades 10-12 or

15-18 years of age on December 1, 2023

Fee: $35 (waivers available)

Deadline: October 15, 2023 at 11:59 pm EST

YoungArts is one of the most prestigious artistic competitions in the country, encompassing a wide variety of disciplines and forms. Through this competition, the National YoungArts Foundation identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Genres: Nonfiction, Novel, Play or Script, Poetry, Short Story, Spoken Word

Award: Up to $12,500 and national, state, and/or regional recognition

Eligibility: Grade 7-12 or 13+ years old

Fee: $7 per individual, $25 per portfolio (waivers available)

Deadline: December 2023/January 2024 (depends on region)

The Awards give students opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships. All entries are considered for Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, American Voices Nominee, and American Visions Nominee awards. These are presented to students along with celebration ceremonies and exhibitions in each region.

The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest

Genres: Nonfiction

Award: Up to $2,500 and an all-expense paid educational voyage courtesy of

Semester at Sea; runner-up received $1,250 and a full scholarship to attend

the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership


Eligibility: U.S. citizens in grades 9-12 whose parents are not in the Foreign Service

Fee: None

Deadline: April 3, 2023

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)’s National High School Essay Contest encourages students to think about how and why the United States engages globally to build peace, and about the role that diplomacy plays in advancing U.S. national security and economic prosperity.

This year, students are asked to explore a topic that touches upon this important history and sheds light on how vital it is for America to have a robust professional corps focused on diplomacy, development, and peace in the national interest.

VFW Voice of Democracy

Genres: Nonfiction

Award: Up to $35,000 in scholarships

Eligibility: U.S. Citizens in grades 9-12

Fee: None

Deadline: October 31, 2023 (TBD)

Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regard to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 64,500 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. All student entries must be submitted to a sponsoring local VFW Post.

Bennington Young Writers Awards

Genres: Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry

Award: Up to $1,000 and potential scholarships at Bennington College up to $60,00

Eligibility: U.S. and international students in grades 9-12

Fee: None

Deadline: November 1, 2023 (TBD)

Bennington launched the Young Writers Awards to promote excellence in writing at the high school level. All entries must be original work reviewed, approved, and sponsored by a high school teacher. Winners’ works will be published on Bennington’s website.

Atlas Shrugged – Essay Contest

Genres: Nonfiction

Award: First prize: $10,000; 3 second prizes: $2,000; 5 third prizes: $1,000; 25

finalists: $100; 50 semifinalists: $50

Eligibility: High school, college, and graduate students

Fee: None

Deadline: November 6, 2023

The Atlas Shrugged novel essay contest is open to all students globally. Atlas Shrugged is a heroic mystery novel written by Ayn Rand. Choose a prompt and write an 800-1,600 word essay. The Ayn Rand Insititute holds two other contests covering Rand’s work with deadlines in Spring 2023.

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

Genres: Poetry

Award: Scholarships to Young Writers Workshop, publication

Eligibility: Grades 10 & 11

Fee: TBD

Deadline: November 1-30, 2023 (TBD)

Hosted annually by the Kenyon Review, the Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize was created in 2007 to recognize outstanding young poets. The Kenyon Review also hosts a Short Fiction and Short Nonfiction competition yearly for a wide variety of authors.

Center for Environmental Literacy — River of Words

Genres: Poetry

Award: Recognition and publication

Eligibility: Grades K-12 and/or ages 5-19

Fee: None

Deadline: December 2023/February 2024 (TBD)

River of Words® (ROW) is a program of The Center for Environmental Literacy and a part of the Kalmanovitz School of Education. Acknowledged pioneers in the field of place-based education, River of Words has been inspiring educators and their students for over twenty-five years with an innovative blend of science and the arts. This free, annual, international youth poetry and art contest — the largest in the world — inspires children ages 5 to 19 to translate their observations into creative expression.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Genres: Nonfiction

Award: Up to $10,000

Eligibility: U.S. citizens in grades 9-12

Fee: None

Deadline: January 2024 (TBD)

The Profile in Courage Essay Contest challenges students to write an original and creative essay that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. This is a great fit for any student interested in government, politics, or history.

The Concord Review

Genres: Nonfiction, historical research

Award: Publication and potential to win The Emerson Prize

Eligibility: Work completed while you were a high school student

Fee: $70+

Deadline: Rolling basis

The Concord Review was founded in March 1987 to recognize and publish exemplary history essays by high school students in the English-speaking world. Although this is not a traditional writing competition, it offers students the opportunity to publish their historical research and gain recognition throughout the academic year. Outstanding submissions may even receive the Emerson Prize, an award named after essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. The entry fee is steeper than most, but it comes with a year-long subscription to The Concord Review.

What are you waiting for? Polish your submissions and share your work today!

If you’re looking for help editing your scholarship applications or general college admissions consulting, don’t hesitate to set up a free consultation today.

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