FIRE Launches 2012 Essay Contest: Win $20,000 in Scholarships!

August 1, 2012

FIRE is pleased to announce that our 2012 Essay Contest is now accepting submissions.

To enter, high school juniors and seniors should watch two FIRE videosSilencing U: Five Outrageous Cases of Campus Censorship  and our brand new video, What Every Student Should Know Before Starting Collegeand write an essay explaining why it is important for colleges and universities to protect student expression.

FIRE will award nine college scholarships to the best entries. One first-place winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship, one second-place winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship, and three third-place winners will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Four runners-up chosen by lottery will each receive a $500 college scholarship.

Part of making an informed decision about where to go to college is knowing if a school actually upholds its commitments to protect student expression. All too often, students do not realize they should consider a school’s free speech track record when making this important choice. FIRE’s essay contest encourages high school students to know their rights before they go to college, so they are better prepared to defend those rights when they get to campus. Encourage the students in your life to enter today!

To view the full contest rules and entry form, visit

FIRE would like to especially thank Lawrence Post for making the 2012 essay contest and our new video possible.

Essay Contest FAQ

Who can enter the essay contest?
Current high school juniors graduating in 2014 and high school seniors graduating in 2013 who plan to attend college are eligible to submit an essay for consideration.

What is the deadline for entering?
Deadline for submissions is November 25, 2012. Winners will be announced by December 21, 2012.

What is the essay question?
Why is free speech important at our nation’s colleges and universities? Using examples from both videos, discuss how censorship of student speech is incompatible with higher education. Your essay should be 800-1,000 words.

How much is the winning scholarship award?

First Place: $10,000 college scholarship
Second Place: $5,000 college scholarship
(3) Third Place Awards: $1,000 college scholarship each
(4) Runners-up chosen by lottery: $500 college scholarship each

Where should I send my essay?
Essays can be submitted on the contest page,