Student Essay Contest

Student Essay Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Shepherd student, Hayleigh McAllister, for earning 1st place in the Common Reading Student Essay Contest! Her creative/critical essay, written from the perspective of Jimmy Make, gives a voice to Pancake's most obscure character. Thanks to all who entered the contest! Click here to read her essay.

Suggested Prompts and Guidelines for Writing a Winning Essay.


Win a $250 gift certificate to the Shepherd University Bookstore!

Instructions for writing your Strange as this Weather Has Been paper:

  1. Must be 600-750 words (2 full pages minimum).
  2. Must be double spaced.
  3. Must be 12 point Times Roman
  4. Papers used as other class assignments are acceptable
  5. Essays are due December 6, 2013
  6. Submit your essay by emailing it to

Winners will be notified by mid-January.

Essay Rubric

Evaluative Criteria for Common Read Essay Contest Submissions:

5 - Superior
Originality of thought and effectiveness
Logical, emphatic development of a central idea
Sophisticated, lively, and precise diction
Well-developed, effectively organized essay and paragraphs
Clear, engaging illustrative support
Mature and diversified sentence structure
Absence of errors in punctuation, usage, and spelling

4 - Good
Convincing and engaging expression
Logical development of a central idea
Appropriate, lively, acceptable diction
Effectively organized essay and paragraphs
Detailed support of ideas
Correct, clear, and varied sentence structure
Absence of major errors in punctuation, usage, and spelling

3 - Competent
Clear Communication
Satisfactory development of a central idea
Appropriate diction
Satisfactory organization of essay and paragraphs
Adequate support of ideas
Some variety of sentence structure
Relative absence of major errors in punctuation, sentence structure, usage, and spelling

2 - Deficient
Superficial, unclear, or repetitious content
Some instances of illogical thinking
Immature, simplistic diction
Poor organization of essay and paragraphs
Weak support of ideas
Awkward, monotonous sentence structure
Some gross errors in punctuation, structure, usage, and spelling

1 - Unacceptable
Confusing content
Flawed central idea
Inappropriate, unclear diction
Random organization of paragraphs
Unsupported generalizations
Awkward, wordy, or simplistic sentence structure
Gross errors in punctuation, structure, usage, and spelling

*Adapted from the Department of English Grading Criteria for Composition Courses

Your essay will be judged by three faculty/staff and results available by January 2014.  You will be notified on your Shepherd email account if you have won a prize.

Watch this website for updates on the contest!