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10 Writing Competitions for High School Students in 2021-2022

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 2021-2022 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.


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

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, 2021

Fee: $35 (waivers available)

Deadline: October 15, 2021 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 $10,000 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 2021/January 2022 (depends on region)

The Awards give students opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships. Students across America entered nearly 230,000 original works in 2021 in 28 different categories of art and writing.

The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest

Genre: Nonfiction

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


Eligibility: U.S. citizens in grades 9-12 or whose parents are in the Foreign Service

Fee: TBD

Deadline: TBD; Likely spring 2022

Although details for the 2021-2022 contest are not yet available, 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.

VFW Voice of Democracy

Genre: Nonfiction

Award: Up to $30,000 in scholarships

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

Fee: None

Deadline: October 31, 2021 at midnight

Established in 1947, our Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards 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 $500 and potential scholarships at Bennington College

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

Fee: None

Deadline: November 1, 2021

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.

YouthPlays New Voices One-Act Competition

Genre: Playwriting

Award: Up to $250 and publication by YouthPlays

Eligibility: Unpublished plays by playwrights younger 19 or younger

Fee: None

Deadline: Submissions open January 2022, deadline likely in May 2022

YouthPLAYS, the publisher of challenging, entertaining plays and musicals for schools, youth theatres, universities, community theatres, and professional theatres for young audiences, hosts an annual New Voices competition for unpublished, non-musical one-acts between 10-40 minutes in length. Specific details for this year’s contest will be announced at the beginning of next year.

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

Genre: Poetry

Award: Scholarships to Young Writers Workshop, publication

Eligibility: Grades 10 & 11

Fee: TBD

Deadline: Submissions open November 1-30, 2021

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

Genre: Poetry

Award: Recognition and publication

Eligibility: Grades K-12 and/or ages 5-20

Fee: None

Deadline: December 1, 2021 for U.S. students, except in GA or AZ

February 1, 2022 for international students and students in GA or AZ

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. Submit original poetry around the theme of the contest: “watersheds.”

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Genre: Nonfiction

Award: Up to $10,000

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

Fee: None

Deadline: TBD, likely early 2022

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: 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 work or college admission consulting services, don’t hesitate to set up a free consultation today.

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