Student Essay Contest
Shepherd students are encouraged to enter the Common Reading Student Essay Contest.
The Prompt (or anti-prompt):
In the past, the Common Reading Student Essay Contest has been structured around a formal writing prompt which asked students to focus on a specific question or theme when crafting an essay. This year, rather than providing a formal prompt to students, we instead ask that you use your own discretion as you write an essay related to this year’s book, “No Visible Bruises.” Essays must still adhere to the guidelines provided below, but entries are not limited to a particular prompt or focus.
- Entries should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and are being accepted now through April 1, 2024
- The winner will receive $350 toward Shepherd tuition or textbooks.
- Entries are judged by a panel of three faculty members using a rubric developed by the Department of English and Modern Languages.
- Essays written for a specific class or other assignment are acceptable.
A winning entry does/has the following elements:
- A clear and coherent thesis statement/main idea that appears in the first paragraph and clearly relates to the prompt you have selected. A reader should be able to easily identify this sentence and say “THIS is what this paper is about.” A good response is not a summary of the text.
- Textual evidence to support each point and move your argument along. Every claim you make should be supported with evidence from the text. Make sure this evidence is integrated into your overall argument. Do not simply drop in quotations without any analysis (explaining how they advance your main idea). Avoid quoting extremely long passages, especially without analysis.
- A coherent, clear structure. Each paragraph should: a) move the argument along; b) have a strong topic sentence, c) move to the next section with clear transitions.
- A conclusion. Your piece should have some sort of conclusion that wraps things up, even if all you do is raise more questions.
- Proper formatting. This includes:
- A title for your essay.
- Typed; double-spaced; in a reasonable font (Times New Roman 12 pt. or Arial 11 pt.); one-inch margins all around; stapled; your name, the course title (if applicable), the instructor’s name (if applicable), and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page; page numbers should appear on the upper right-hand corner of each page.
- No spelling or grammatical mistakes.
- Appropriate length: About 600-750 words (at least 2 full pages).