Essay Contest

2013 Guidelines

Submission Dates: October 1 through December 1, 2013

Hey Students and Parents!

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Entries must be post marked by December 1st. We receive a high volume of entries around this date, so if you submit an essay toward the end of the submission period, please be patient. We will notify you via email when we process you entry!

Note: Entries received before October 1 or postmarked after December 1 will be returned or discarded.

Entry Form

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For students ages 7–19, write a short essay (700 words max) based on the theme prompts below, corresponding to your age category. Each student may submit two (2) different essays.


Cash congratulations, plus a wonderful transcript booster!

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


The themes discuss traditions, an important part of every country and culture. As a “melting pot,” the United States has come to encompass a vast array of personal and communal traditions. Each family and community celebrates, mourns, feasts, and lives day-to-day with many traditions, but we do not always take the time to pause and consider the traditions that mark our lives. We encourage you to take that time now and thoughtfully consider the question for your age category. We look forward to reading what you think!

  • Category 1 (ages 7–10): What is your favorite family tradition and why?
  • Category 2 (ages 11–14): What is a current tradition that you plan to carry on in the future and why is it important to you?
  • Category 3 (ages 15–19): What do you think is one of the most important traditions in American society and why?

Note to Parents: Essays must be completely the work of the student entering the contest. No assistance in editing or proof reading is permissible. While we encourage students to discuss the concept of traditions with their parents, the construction and language of each essay should be entirely done by the student. Additionally, parents may direct students to resources where answers can be found (e.g. suggesting a student look in a dictionary or specific book if he or she has a question about spelling a word or a specific topic).


You and all your homeschool friends!

Category 1: Homeschoolers ages 7 to 10 as of October 1, 2013.
Category 2: Homeschoolers ages 11 to 14 as of October 1, 2013.
Category 3: Homeschoolers ages 15 to19 as of October 1, 2013.

Up to two entries per student.
Students must be currently homeschooled and have received the majority of their education this academic year through home education.
The staff and immediate family members of HSLDA and all related entities (PRO, HSF, Generation Joshua) are not eligible to participate in HSLDA-sponsored contests.

Essay Guidelines:

Keeping it simple:

  • Word limit per essay: 700
  • Typed and double-spaced in 11 or 12 point Times New Roman font
  • Print 2 copies on white, unlined paper
  • Type the student’s phone number 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 student’s. Example: 540-338-5600A and 540-338-5600B.
  • Do NOT type or write the student’s name or any other identifying information other than the phone number.
  • Fill out one entry form per essay


Check or money order, payable to “HSLDA” with “Essay Contest” in the memo line.

HSLDA Member Discounted Fee$10.00 per entry (2 entries max per student)
Regular Fee$15.00 per entry (2 entries max per student)
Multiple entry fees may be paid on one check for students or families submitting multiple entries.

Final Checklist

Please mail entry form, entry fee payment, and two copies of your essay to:

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

  • Essays must be postmarked on/before December 1st, 2013.
  • Essays from students in the same family may be mailed in the same envelope, and multiple entry fees (1 fee per essay) may be paid on one check.


  • Essays will be kept anonymous and evaluated by a panel of judges appointed by HSLDA.
  • The judges will select 12 to 20 finalists per category.
  • Essays will be judged on originality of thought, grammar, spelling, logic, clarity, writing style, and content.
  • All decisions of the judges are final.
  • Winners will be notified and announced on the web by mid-January.

Other Information

  • Profits from HSLDA contests support the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children Fund.
  • Essays become the property of HSLDA and will not be returned. Entry in the contest constitutes permission for HSLDA to publish the essay at its discretion. Full credit will always be given to the original author.
  • All judgments are final and interpretations of the guidelines are at HSLDA's sole discretion.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact the Contest Coordinator at contests@hslda.org. We love to hear from you!