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2011-2012 Essay Contest for High School Students Announced

2011-2012 Essay Contest for High School Students Announced

To encourage high school students in their writing and to recognize publicly some of the best student writers in Pennsylvania, Penn State will sponsor an essay contest.  The winners will include seventeen eleventh grade students.  The Offices of Undergraduate Studies and Recruitment and Retention at Penn State have provided financial support to recognize the winners of this contest.

The author of the best essay will receive an honorarium of $100; the authors of the second- and third-place essays will receive $75 and $50.  In addition, the finalists and the English departments that nominate them will receive certificates of commendation from Penn State.

Copies of this announcement and contest materials are being sent to the English departments in all schools in Pennsylvania.  If you have questions you may contact the Penn State Essay Contest, The Pennsylvania State University, Department of English, 139 Burrowes Building, University Park, PA 16802 or email Lynn Setzler at


One method of choosing a nominee is to form a committee of students and teachers to act as judges in a preliminary contest.  Such a committee would select the best writer or writers of expository prose to represent the school.  One to eight students, determined by the school’s enrollment, should be chosen.  We have enclosed one copy of the question form.  Please copy the appropriate number that you need based on your junior enrollment figure, but no more than eight.


The number of nominees from each school is determined by the school’s current enrollment in grade eleven.

Under 149 students: one nominee

150-299 students: two nominees

300-599 students: three nominees

600-899 students: four nominees

900-1,199 students: five nominees

1,200-1,499 students: six nominees

1,500-1,799 students: seven nominees

1,800 or more students: eight nominees

The enrollment figure used must be an official one from administrative reports of the current year.


Only eleventh grade students are eligible for this contest.  Students who are juniors in the academic year 2011-2012 may be nominated by their school.

Public, private, and parochial schools in Pennsylvania may participate in this contest.


Students will be asked to write an impromptu essay in no more than one hour after reading the article under a teacher’s supervision.  Essays may be composed on computers.  The essays can be mailed or emailed to us.


Experienced teachers of composition from Penn State will evaluate the entries.  They look for evidence that students control a broad range of analytical and writing skills.  Each entry will be read by at least two judges.  No entries will be returned.

Finalists will be notified in February 2012.

2011-2012 DEADLINES

December 9, 2011

Deadline for schools to mail or email compositions to Penn State.

February, 2012

Notification of contest winners and their teachers. 
The awards luncheon to recognize the winners will be held on Friday, April 20, 2012 at the Nittany Lion Inn.


Address queries to Penn State Essay Contest, The Pennsylvania State University, Department of English, 139 Burrowes Building, University Park, PA  16802.  Phone (814) 863-3066, Lynn Setzler (

Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please consult Lynn Setzler (814) 863-3066 in advance of your participation or visit.

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission, and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. The Pennsylvania State University does not discriminate against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Director, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802-2801; tel. (814)863-4700/V, (814)863-1150/TTY.