The Facing History Together Student Essay Contest is back! And we're accepting submissions! Using the documentary film, American Creed, we're asking students to tell a story they believe shows the power of uniting people, building bridges, or orienting us to what we share and the common good. But what makes a good essay? We've rounded up a few writing tips that can prepare students to sit down and write their best 500-word essay for the chance to win great scholarship prizes. Check out the full contest site for all of the details. In the meantime, read these tips and get writing. Submissions close on March 28!
1. Read the whole prompt! Sounds easy but it's important. This will help you form your thoughts and know what the expectations are: How long should it be? What are you being asked to respond to? Read it through a couple of times and sit with your thoughts for a few minutes.
2. Start with an outline! Not sure where to begin? Create an outline. Even if it is just a few bullet points, this can help you organize your thoughts and make sure you are hitting all of the main points of the prompt. Then you can begin stringing these thoughts together in paragraphs.
3. Just start writing! Staring at a blank page can seem daunting but just start putting words onto the page. It's important to keep in mind that a first draft is always just that - a first draft. Allow yourself to write out your thoughts without worrying about word count just yet. Then go back and review: Are you missing important details? Did you include everything the prompt asked for? Are you over or under the word count? Now go through and refine it and make it better. This might take a couple of rounds and that's okay. You'll end up with a solid essay that might just win you some scholarship money!
4. Express yourself! People love stories. And they will enjoy hearing yours. Stories give us a window into who you are and how you see the world. Remember that not every story needs to be big. Sometimes it's the smallest moments that we can all relate to.
5. Proofread - times two! Always remember to edit and proofread your essay for grammar, structure, and flow. Read the essay out loud to yourself. Sometimes hearing it can help you identify sentences that need to be revised. Then ask someone else to proofread it. A friend or a parent can be a fresh pair of eyes to catch any grammatical mistakes you might have missed and can offer valuable feedback that might help improve your essay even more. Don't forget to keep it to 500 words!
Use these writing tips to write the best essay you can, but most of all, have fun! We look forward to reading all of the great essays we receive. Explore the full prompt and details and don't forget, submissions close on March 28!