Update | Dec. 9, 2014: In late January or early February of 2015 we will be announcing our second annual Student Editorial contest.
Update: May, 2014: All of the Top 10 winners have now been published. You can find them here.
When we announced our first-ever Student Editorial Contest earlier this year, we expected a thousand or so entries — 2,000, maybe, if we were really lucky.
But when your impassioned essays started pouring at the rate of 200 per hour the last day of the contest — faster than we could approve them — we and our partners at The Center for News Literacy knew we would need at least a month to choose the best.
You dazzled us in many ways, but perhaps most in your range of topics. Sure, we expected pieces on bullying, body image, stereotyping, standardized testing and the dangers of social media; teenagers confront these complex issues every day. We also knew from our long-running Summer Reading Contest that — despite the stereotype — young people care very much about international news, whether climate change, rape in India or unrest in Ukraine.
But even we were surprised to read editorials on the depletion of the helium reserve, the downside of artificial turf or the cost overruns of the F-35 fighter jet.
Over all, we were delighted to find that most essays grew out of a real personal passion, whether an enthusiasm for N.B.A. basketball or the Beatles, or a desire to right injustices you encountered in your own families, schools or neighborhoods.
We also loved when you surprised us by taking unusual stances, like arguing the benefits of divorce or the ways in which Barbie is a feminist.
A winning editorial needed to fulfill the guidelines of our rubric, of course, and nearly 200 did that well enough to go to the second round.
But to make our list of finalists, editorials couldn’t simply follow the “here’s my first reason, here’s my second and here’s my third” formula of persuasive-essay writing. Nor could they just be a list of quotations strung together with a little transitional glue. The very best were those that not only had clear arguments and carefully chosen evidence, but also argued their claims in original, persuasive voices.
The writers we honor today pulled us in with clever openings, personal anecdotes and concise overviews that communicated the urgency of a topic. They had the confidence to inject their own experiences and perspectives into their editorials, when appropriate, without distracting the reader from the larger context of the issue. They stuck to the facts, without getting lost in conjecture or hyperbole. They offered us new insights.
For students who will be doing more argumentative writing in the future, here are some final tips from our judges:
- Choose a topic you genuinely care about. Essays that read like they were assigned generally did less well than those that clearly grew out of a writer’s own imagination.
- Double check spelling and grammar. A few mistakes in the first paragraph can lose your readers before they even get to consider your arguments. (Writing “band” when you mean “banned,” for example, can make your serious essay unintentionally funny.)
- While an argument should have an introduction, body and conclusion, the best editorials massage the form. A unique voice stands out, and the piece over all doesn’t read like a cut-and-paste formula.
- We noticed many students incorporating counterarguments, something the Common Core Standards emphasize. The best editorials were able to organically weave those in so they seemed natural and conversational, not like an artificial add-on required by a teacher.
Finally, for the many thousands of students who participated in this contest but didn’t get recognized, we would like to put the numbers in perspective. Even though the chances of getting admitted to elite colleges like Stanford and Harvard were slimmer than ever this year (around 5 percent), the odds of getting chosen by our judges were even smaller than that.
Student Editorial Contest Winners
And now, at last, the winners. Starting April 23, we’ll also be publishing the Top 10 separately, one each day, in posts that showcase each and are suitable for hanging on family refrigerators or class bulletin boards. As we go, we’re tagging them “editorial winner” so that you can find them all here.
Each category below lists our favorites in order of submission and, where titles were missing, by first line.
Top 10 Winners
“Since 2006, over 70,000 deaths in Mexico …” by Brody Ford
“Stop ‘I Spy’ Game With Allies” by Edgar Hu
“Why I, a Heterosexual Teenage Boy, Want to See More Men in Speedos” by Noah Spencer
“Cutting it Short” by Eric Vogt.
“Intelligence Over Diversity” by Ashley K.
“National Parks: Ecology and Economy” by Matty Hack
“Short-Changing Canada’s Veterans” by Talia Vogt
“Cisgender people …” by Adrianna N.
“Substitute Teachers – From a Student’s Perspective” by Candice C. and Cheryl B.
“The Wonders of Wandering” by Lucas Schroeder
“Taxpayer’s money for playdough, building blocks and recess?” by Lizzie O
“As a high school junior interested in engineering…” by Abby W.
“SAT Reform Needs Improvement” by Tim D.
“Love is Love” by Lulu S. G.
“How Do Barbie Dolls Influence Young Girls Today?” by Kathryn Perez
“I have grown up in a town whose history and reputation centers around its two correctional facilities…” by Marissa Brannick
“For many students, the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance …” by Ai Hue N.
“Prisoner Education: Thinking of the Future” by Madeleine C. TAP
“Avonte’s Law” by Sanaz H.
“Ignoring the Intolerable: The Rape Epidemic on Indian Reservations” by Gillian W.
“The irrationality of the Chinese government to block websites” by Lisa Q. (BHSFIC)
“Success of an Arts Education” by Jessie F
“School Web Filters Block Improvements in Students’ Education” by Lilian T.
“So uhm like the problem with the uhm English language…” by Kelsey S
“Why Ukraine Should Not Associate With The E.U.” by Maxim Meleganich
“Saying ‘No’ Is Not Reverse Psychology” by Gabrielle S.
“Ban Bloomberg’s Ban” by Kira N
“The Murky Ethics of Athletic Prosthetics” by Hannah Llorin
“The Women Left Behind” by Chapel P.
“Is a Longer School Calendar Beneficial?” by Kallie20143
“Is Graffiti Really Art?” by Sydonne’ B.
“Education 2.0″ by Kevin C., NPHS
“Like, Speak Before You Think?” by Jeffrey S.
“Is Installing Artificial Turf a Good Idea?” by Victoria T., Judson S HHK7Q
“Picky and Deprived” by Kai Krajeck
“If we don’t talk to teenagers about sex, teenagers won’t have sex. Right?” by Isabel B.
“It Can Wait” by Maisie Cook
“The ‘Age of Consent’ Should Not Just Be An Age” by Bronwyn M.
“Imagine hearing someone had been robbed …” by Laine B.
“Applying to college, in numbers” by Nikki T.
“Network TV suffers ‘Two and a Half Men’ syndrome” by Kathryn T.
“Redefining Courage” by Chantelle L.
“Generation-Why” by Nora G.
Note:Here’s how to get your full name posted.
Thank you, again, students, and thank you teachers … and stay tuned: Our Found Poetry Contest ends April 29, after which we’ll be announcing the details of this year’s Summer Reading Contest.
And keep your pencils sharpened and your newspapers open, because we hope to run this contest again next year — though this time we’ll be prepared for the volume.
Judges: Rory O’Connor and Dean Miller from the Center for News Literacy; Shannon Doyne, Amanda Christy Brown, Annissa Hambouz, Daniel Slotnik, Michael Gonchar and Katherine Schulten from The Learning Network.
The “Sponsor” is The New York Times Company, 620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018.
The New York Times Modern Love College Essay Contest (“the Contest”) is a skillbased competition in which participants will compete to be selected as author of the top essay, as selected by Sponsor. The author of the winning entry will be awarded $1,000.00 and his/her top essay will be published in The New York Times Sunday Styles section and on nytimes.com.
Participants will be invited to submit essays, which will be voted on and rated by Sponsor. The Contest begins at 10:00 AM Eastern on Friday, February 6, 2015 and ends at 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, March 15, 2015. The Contest will be conducted in two phases. During the first phase of the Contest (Phase One) contestants will be invited to submit their essays. The deadline for essay submissions is 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, March 15, 2015. During the second phase of the Contest (Phase Two) the submissions will be voted on and rated by the Judge. The voting will begin at 10:00 AM Eastern on Monday, March 16, 2015 and end at 11:59 PM Eastern on Monday, April 13, 2015. Daniel Jones, Editor, Modern Love, will serve as judge (“Judge”). Judge will select the Winner (as defined below) based on talent, writing ability, style, creativity and originality of entry. Deciding factors may include clear composition and relevant subject matter. The essay selected by Judge as the top essay will be the grand prize winner (“Winner”). Whether any essay is eligible at any stage shall be at Sponsor’s sole and absolute discretion at all times, including, without limitation, whether any such essay meets Sponsor’s standards of overall quality, as such quality standards are determined by Sponsor, in its sole and absolute discretion. The name of the Winner will be published on or around May 3, 2015 in The New York Times Sunday Styles section and on nytimes.com. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
As a condition of Contest entry, each Contest Entrant (as defined below) acknowledges and agrees that: (a) Sponsor has access to and/or may create or have created literary, visual and/or other materials, ideas and concepts which may be similar or identical to the Contest Entry Materials in theme and/or other respects; (b) the Contest Entrant will not be entitled to any compensation or other consideration because of the use by Sponsor of any such similar or identical material, ideas and/or concepts; and (c) Sponsor’s use of material containing elements similar to or identical with those contained in the Contest Entry Materials or any essay shall not obligate Sponsor to negotiate with nor entitle Contest Entrant to any compensation or other claim.
Potential Winner will be tallied by or about Monday, April 13, 2015. Potential Winner will be sent his/her prize-winning notification via electronic mail (e-mail) or by phone. A potential Winner has seven (7) days from receipt of notification to claim his/her prize by responding via electronic mail (e-mail) or an alternate Winner will be selected. Noncompliance with these official rules or, if a selected potential Winner cannot be contacted, provides incorrect e-mail or mailing address, is ineligible, fails to claim a prize or if the prize notification or prize is returned as undeliverable, an alternate Winner will be selected. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for Sponsor to use Winner's essay, name and likeness for advertising and promotional purposes without compensation, unless otherwise prohibited by law.
This Contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States ([including] D.C.) who are current undergraduate students at least 18 years of age and older, residing in the United States and enrolled in an American college or university. Employees and agents of Sponsor, its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, any other prize sponsor, and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of the Contest and their immediate family members and/or close personal friends and/or those living in the same household of such persons, whether related or not, are not eligible to enter the Contest.
Employees, officers and directors of Sponsor (including Sponsor’s parent company, The New York Times Company (“NYTCO”)), their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, distributors, advertising, promotion, fulfillment and marketing agencies, their immediate families, (defined as spouse, child, sibling, parent, or grandparent) and those living in their same households are NOT eligible to participate in the Promotion. Each Winner will be required to execute a declaration of eligibility and liability release attesting that the Winner has complied with all the rules and that the Winner releases Sponsor(s) and all prize-supplier companies from all liability for damages or personal injury in connection with the Winner's use of the prize, and a publicity release consenting that the Sponsor and anyone they may authorize may, without compensation, use Winner's name, essay, photograph or other likeness, biographical information and statements concerning the Contest or the Sponsor for purposes of advertising and promotion.
HOW TO SUBMIT A CONTEST ENTRY
Any individual wishing to compete in the Contest must submit an essay of no more than 1700 words illustrating the current state of love and relationships, to firstname.lastname@example.org (participants submitting essays are referred to as “Contest Entrants”). Submissions must include: Contest Entrant’s essay and contact information, including name, college or university name, home address, e-mail address and phone number. Each Contest Entrant may submit one essay during the Contest (an “Essay”). Essays must be received no later than 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, March 15, 2015. Any elements appearing in submitted Essays must be entirely original, created by Contest Entrant, and must not have been altered in any way from the original. Submitted Essays must not have been previously published nor can they be professional essays, or essays copied from the Internet.
Use of any elements or other materials that are not original, or in the public domain may result in disqualification of Essay in Sponsor’s sole discretion. By entering, Contest Entrants accept and agree to be bound by these Official Rules, including the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects. Limit one (1) entry per Contest Entrant and per email address. Any individual who attempts to enter, or in the sole discretion of Sponsor is suspected of entering more than once, by any means, including but not limited to submitting multiple Essays, will be disqualified from the Contest. In addition Sponsor reserves the right to reject any submission without explanation.
CONDITIONS OF CONTEST ENTRY
As conditions of entry into the Contest, each Contest Entrant:
- WARRANTS AND REPRESENTS THAT THE CONTEST ENTRANT OWNS ALL RIGHTS TO THE ESSAY HE/SHE IS SUBMITTING (COLLECTIVELY, THE “CONTEST ENTRY MATERIALS”).
SPONSOR’S RIGHT TO DISQUALIFY
At any time during the Contest, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and unfettered discretion, to disqualify and remove any Essay that it believes does not meet the spirit or requirements of the Official Rules. The decisions of the Sponsor on this and all matter relating to the Contest are final and binding.
WINNER SELECTION PROCESS
Entries will be rated from March 16, 2015 to April 13, 2015. Daniel Jones, Editor, Modern Love, will serve as judge (“Judge”). Judge will select the Winner based on talent, writing ability, style, creativity and originality of entry. Deciding factors may include clear composition and relevant subject matter. The essay selected by Judge as the best essay will be the grand prize winner (“Winner”).
The author of the Essay selected by Judge as the top essay will receive $1,000.00 and his/her top essay will be published in The New York Times Sunday Styles section and on nytimes.com. Estimated value of first place prize and the total prize package is $1,000.00.
Four runners-up will also be selected. Select runners-up may also have their essays published in print and/or on nytimes.com.
If Winner is unable to fulfill prize during time period specified, Winner forfeits the prize package. Winner must be 18 years of age or older. Prizes are non-transferable and shall be deemed to have no cash value. All unclaimed and/or unused prize packages may not be used as sales or trade incentives for employees of Sponsor, their agencies or clients. No prize substitution is permitted, except by Sponsor, which reserves the right to substitute any prize of equal or comparable value including cash in the event of prize unavailability. Prizes are non-transferable.
Prize consists of only the item specifically listed above. No substitution or transfer of prize is permitted, except that Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value in the event that an offered prize is unavailable. All federal, state and local taxes on prizes are the sole responsibility of the Winner. Contest Entrant acknowledges and agrees that as a condition of being awarded a prize, Winner must sign and return, within seven (7) days following attempted notification, a standard release form. Noncompliance within this time period may result in disqualification and an alternate Winner may be selected.
Sponsor and its officers, directors, affiliates, related entities, partners, partnerships, principals, representatives, agents, licensees, sponsors, successors and assigns: (a) make no warranty, guaranty or representation of any kind concerning any prize; (b) disclaim any implied warranty; and (c) are not liable for injury, loss, or damage of any kind resulting from the acceptance or use of any prize, travel related thereto or from participation in this Contest.
If any activity relating to any prize is canceled or postponed for any reason, the balance of that prize will be awarded in full satisfaction of prize award.
All taxes, fees and surcharges on prizes won are the sole responsibility of the Winner.
The Contest is governed by and subject to the laws of the United States. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited by law. All Winners will receive an IRS 1099 for the value of their prizes. By participating in the Contest and/or accepting any prize, Contest Entrants grant permission to Sponsor and its advertising and promotion agencies to use their name(s), likeness(es), essays and any other material submitted in connection with the Contest for purposes of advertising, publicity and promotion purposes, without further compensation to Contest Entrant, unless prohibited by law. By entering, the Contest Entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding on all matters relating to the Contest. Sponsor is not responsible for any typographical or other errors in the printing of the offer, administration of the Contest or the announcement of the prizes, or for lost, late, misdirected, damaged, incomplete or illegal entries.
Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify the Contest Entry of any individual found to be: (a) tampering or attempting to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or any Sponsor website; (b) violating the Official Rules; (c) violating the terms of service, conditions of use and/or general rules or guidelines of any Sponsor property or service; or (d) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. Further, Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entry which, in Sponsor’s sole opinion, is deemed to be offensive, libelous, slanderous, inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate in any way for this Contest. CAUTION ANY ATTEMPT BY A CONTEST ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.
LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY
Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any computer, online, telephone transmission or technical malfunctions that may occur during participation in the Contest (including, without limitation, the voting phases of the Contest), or theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, Contest Entry Materials. Sponsor is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by website users, Contest Entrants, or any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest, or for any technical or human error which may occur in the processing of submissions or votes in the Contest. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation of transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing (including but not limited to any such problems which may result in the inability to access the Contest website or to submit Contest Entry Materials in connection with the Contest). Sponsor is not responsible for any injury or damage to participants or to any computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading materials in this Contest. If, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest and select Winners from among that portion of the Contest that has not been compromised, if any. Sponsor reserves the right to cancel this Contest at any time without obligation or prior notice.
Except where prohibited, as a condition of participating in this Contest, Contest Entrants agree that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest, any prize awarded, or the determination of Winners shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will Contest Entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys’ fees, other than Contest Entrant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. costs associated with entering this Contest), and Contest Entrant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of a Winner based on email address, the winning entry will be declared made by the Authorized Account Holder of the email address submitted at time of entry. For purposes of these Official Rules, “Authorized Account Holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g. business, educational, institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address.
All issues and questions regarding rights and obligations of Contest Entrants in connection with this Contest shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, U.S.A., without giving effect to the conflict of laws and rules thereof and any matters or proceedings which are not subject to arbitration as set forth in these Official Rules and/or for entering any judgment on an arbitration award, shall take place in the State of New York.
The parties waive rights to trial by jury in any action or proceeding instituted in connection with these Official Rules and/or this Contest. Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to these Official Rules and/or this Contest shall be settled by binding arbitration in accordance with the commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association. Any such controversy or claim shall be arbitrated on an individual basis, and shall not be consolidated in any arbitration with any claim or controversy of any other party. The arbitration shall be conducted in the State of New York and judgment on the arbitration award may be entered into any court having jurisdiction thereof.
WINNER’S LIST/RULES REQUESTS
For a copy of the Official Rules or the Winners’ names, send a separate, stamped, selfaddressed envelope to:
The New York Times Modern Love College Essay Contest, 620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018.
Requests received after June 1, 2015 may not be honored.