Essay Contest

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2014 Essay Contest


Submission Dates: September 1st through November 1st, 2014
Entries must be post marked by November 1st.

Entry Form

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Essay Contest Archives
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2009   2008
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2005   2004
2003   2002

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


Our world has been shaped by the inventions of the past; with inventors improving and building on those of previous generations. Every item we use—from the toothbrush to the smartphone—was invented by someone using his or her God-given creativity and intellect to do something! Our themes for this year’s contest focus on inventing or inventions.

  • Category 1 (ages 7–10): God has given humanity great creativity and so many amazing inventions have already been made by the hands of men. But there is still so much room for ingenuity! If you were to invent something that has not yet been invented, what would it be, what would it do, and why would you choose to invent it?

  • Category 2 (ages 11–14): Let’s say you are stranded on a desert island, alone, where there is no electricity, no cell tower signal, or any other sign of civilization. You have a stockpile of food and help is on its way—in a couple months—but in the meantime you must survive. What three inventions would you want to find washed up onto the shore of the island with you and why?

  • Category 3 (ages 15–19):Though created with good intentions, to do something good, some inventions have had unintended negative consequences. They’ve solve one problem but created other problems—sometimes worse than the first. Choose one such invention and discuss its positive and negative impacts. Also address whether or not the benefits from the invention outweigh its negative impact?

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 general topic of inventions and technology with their parents, the construction and language of each essay should be entirely done by the student.

Parents may:

  • Type essays for younger students.
  • 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 on November 1, 2014.
Category 2: Homeschoolers ages 11 to 14 on November 1, 2014.
Category 3: Homeschoolers ages 15 to19 on November 1, 2014.

Up to two entries per student.
Students must be currently homeschooled. 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 (does not include Title)
  • 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. This number should match the phone number written on the Entry Form.
  • 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.

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

* HSF Grant Recipients who received their grant on or after September 1, 2013 can receive a 50% discount by attaching a copy of their grant award letter to each Entry Form.

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 November 1st, 2014.
  • Essays from students in the same family may be mailed in the same envelope, and multiple entry fees may be paid on one check.
  • HSF Grant Recipients must attach a copy of their award letter dated on or after September 1, 2013, to take advantage of the half-price Entry Fee offer.


  • 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 in December and announced on the website shortly thereafter.

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!