11th and 12th grade students;
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 at the time of the current contest deadline. Verification of school enrollment will be required for all winning entrants;
Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.
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 500 prizes totaling more than $90,000. Application deadline is until April 26, 2017.
Select one of the following three topics:
- Howard Roark was Ayn Rand’s first complete presentation of a moral ideal. Judging from The Fountainhead, what is it about Roark’s character and his approach to life that Rand regards as ideal for a human being? Why does she think this? Which, if any, aspects of Roark’s character or approach to life do you think are worthy of emulating morally? Which, if any, should not be emulated? Explain.
- Ayn Rand is often criticized for creating “unrealistic” heroes. Why might someone regard Howard Roark as “unrealistic”? What do you think of this criticism? Is Roark an “unrealistic” character, a “realistic” one, or neither? Why? In explaining your answer, consider what Rand has to say in her essay “The Goal of My Writing.”
- In his courtroom speech, Howard Roark explains the nature, motivation and importance of those who create values (such as new artworks, technological inventions and innovations, and advances in theoretical knowledge). Why does he think that value-creation and what it requires of the creators is crucially important from a moral perspective? In your answer, consider what a character from another Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged, has to say about the process of value-creation, in the speech “The Nature of an Artist.”
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.
- 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 at the time of the current contest deadline. 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. your name and address;
2. your email address (if available);
3. the name and address of your school;
4. topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
5. your current grade level; and
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 26, 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 August 3, 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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) is a nonprofit think tank in Irvine, California that promotes Objectivism, a philosophical system developed by author Ayn Rand.
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