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Freedom in Academia Essay Contest for High School Students Is Open: FIRE Is Awarding $20,000 in College Scholarships!

By September 10, 2014

It’s that time of year: FIRE will once again award $20,000 in college scholarships to the winners of our annual Freedom in Academia Essay Contest. High school juniors and seniors planning on attending college after graduation are encouraged to enter to win one of nine scholarships worth $10,000, $5,000, $1,000, or $500.

To enter, watch two FIRE videos—“Don’t Cage My Speech! A Student Schools His College” and “Silencing U: Five Outrageous Cases of Campus Censorship”—and write an essay answering the following prompt:

“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.”

Part of making an informed decision about where to go to college is knowing whether a school upholds its commitments to protect student expression. All too often, students don’t realize they should consider a school’s free speech track record when making the important choice of where to attend. 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 arrive on campus.

Do you know a high school junior or senior? Then send them this link—thefire.org/contest—and encourage them to apply!

Who can enter the essay contest?

Current high school juniors graduating in 2016 and high school seniors graduating in 2015 who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and plan to attend college are eligible to submit an essay for consideration.

What is the deadline for entering?

The deadline for submissions is January 1, 2015. Winners will be announced by January 31, 2015.

What is the essay prompt?

“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 and should stay on topic.

How many will win, and how much will they win?

FIRE will award one $10,000 first prize, one $5,000 second prize, and three $1,000 runner-up prizes for the best essays. Four $500 winners will be chosen from the remaining entrants in a drawing.

Where should I send my essay?

Essays can be submitted on the contest page, thefire.org/contest.