Essay Contest

2008 Guidelines

Submission Dates: October 1 through November 1, 2008

Entry Form

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Essay Contest Archives
2007   2006
2005   2004
2003   2002

Entries received before October 1 or postmarked after November 1 will be sent back or discarded.


Students must write an essay arguing for or against the following international proverbs. Two proverbs are provided for each category; students may choose which of the two within their category they want to argue for or against. Students must choose one proverb from their category.

Category 1

Choice 1: “Be slow in choosing a friend but slower in changing him.” —Scotland
Choice 2: “The work praises the man.” —Ireland

Category 2

Choice 1: “Nothing is so difficult that diligence cannot master it.” —Madagascar
Choice 2: “He who does not wish for little things does not deserve big things.” —Belgium

Category 3

Choice 1: “A beautiful thing is never perfect.” —Egypt
Choice 2: “To him that watches, everything is revealed.” —Italy

Spend some time reflecting on the question at hand and perhaps researching the possible meaning/context of the proverb and then be creative! We look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Entrant Qualifications

Contest prizes and themes are determined based on the student’s age. If a student falls into Category 1 in age, then he or she must do the Category 1 theme and will be awarded Category 1 prizes. The same applies for categories 2 and 3.

Category 1: Homeschoolers ages 7 to 10 as of October 1, 2008.
Category 2: Homeschoolers ages 11 to 14 as of October 1, 2008.
Category 3: Homeschoolers ages 15-19 as of October 1, 2008.

Only one entry per student.

For the purposes of this contest, an eligible student must have been homeschooled and received the majority of his or her educations through home education during the past year.

Contest Guidelines

  1. Essays must be completely the work of the student entering the contest. No assistance of other parties, including but not limited to brainstorming, editing, or proof reading, is permissible.
  2. Essays cannot be longer than 700 words.
  3. All essays must be typed double-space on white unlined paper in 12 point Times New Roman font.
  4. The student’s telephone number should be typed on the top of each page. If more than one student from a family is participating in the same category, the number should be followed by a letter to distinguish it from the other students. Example: 540-338-5600A and 540-338-5600B.
  5. The student must fill out an entry form with their full name, date of birth, HSLDA membership number (if applicable), address, email, and telephone number; this should be on a separate cover sheet of paper attached by a paperclip to the essay. This sheet should also include a one-sentence description of the essay’s contents (e.g., “Joan of Arc is my hero because she did the right thing no matter what other people said.”) and word count for the essay.
  6. Do not type or write the student’s name or any other identifying information other than the phone number on anything other than the cover page.


Essays must be mailed to:

Attn: Essay Contest
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134-9000

  1. Essays must be postmarked on/before November 1, 2008
  2. Essays from students in the same family may be mailed in the same envelope.


  1. HSLDA members: Please enclose a $10 check with each essay.
  2. Non-HSLDA members: Please enclose a $15 check with each essay.
  3. The check must be made payable to “HSLDA” with a note of “Essay Contest” in the memo line.


  1. Essays will be evaluated by a panel of judges appointed by Home School Legal Defense Association.
  2. Essays will be judged on originality of thought, grammar, spelling, logic, clarity, writing style, and content.
  3. All decisions of the judges are final.
  4. Winners will be notified and announced on the web by mid-December.

Prizes for Each Category

Category 1 2 3
First $100 $150 $200
Second $75 $100 $150
Third $50 $50 $100
Honorable Mentions (2) $25 $25 $50


  1. Only essays sent to the above address will qualify for the contest.
  2. No essay containing any plagiarized or non-original work will be considered.
  3. By submitting an essay you:
    • Grant Home School Legal Defense Association the right to publish all or part of your submission. HSLDA may also allow other non-profit entities to publish the essays for non-commercial use.
    • Agree to all rules and the decisions of the judges and sponsors.
  4. Home School Legal Defense Association is not responsible for any lost, damaged, misdirected, delayed, mutilated, incomplete, illegible, or postage-due entries or mail.
  5. All profits from this contest will go to the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children Fund.

Please contact Contest Coordinator Cherise Ryan at contests@hslda.org with any questions.