Calling all writers: this is the competition for you. The Bennington Young Writers Awards is one of the most prestigious writing competitions in America. The Young Writers Awards, meant to encourage and recognize writers at the high school level, is open to all students in the 9th to 12th grades.
Students can submit to three different categories, from which a first, second, and third place winner is selected in each category: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Participating in and winning an award from this competition is a very significant achievement. It shows your commitment to and talent for writing and will no doubt serve as a standout item on your college application.
How to enter
There is no entry fee to participate, and any high school student is welcome to participate. The competition runs annually from September 3rd to November 1st. One thing students should note is that their work must be approved and sponsored by a high school teacher before being submitted. The sponsoring teacher will then be used as the direct point of contact should the competition have any questions. More detail can be found on their website.
First place winners in each category are awarded a $1,000 prize. Second place winners receive $500, while third palace winners receive $250. Young Writers Award finalists and winners are also eligible for undergraduate scholarships at Bennington; finalists will receive a $10,000 scholarship every year for four years, while winners will receive a $15,000 scholarship every year for four years. The finalists and winners must apply to Bennington College, be admitted, and then enroll in order to receive their scholarships.
Why should you apply?
As one of the most well-known writing competitions in the world, budding writers are encouraged to submit to the Bennington Young Writers Awards. In this guide, we’ve listed 6 reasons you should consider applying!
1. The award is prestigious
The Bennington Young Writers Awards is a highly regarded competition with a unique literary legacy that celebrates talented young writers. An aspiring writer is given the opportunity to show off their individual talents and unique skills—with only three winners, the competition is very selective, meaning that winning is a big, big deal. By making a name for yourself with Bennington, your skills and passion for writing are given a meaningful and reputable recognition beyond just high school. The Bennington Young Writers Award is likely a very recognizable name to college admission officers. Putting the name on your application will immediately register you as a talented young writer.
2. You could win 1,000 dollars!
The Bennington Young Writers Award offers significant financial aid and scholarship opportunities for its winners. This makes it different from a competition like the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, which awards very few cash awards to its many winners. For those seeking financial assistance for their education or future writing pursuits, this could be a compelling reason to apply.
3. You gain access to a valuable network
A competition like the Bennington Young Writers Awards is a very useful way for high school students to connect with other young writers and professionals. There are many established authors and mentors who are involved in the program; winning an award from the competition means you are given the chance to build valuable connections within the literary community. This is essential if writing is something you see as a future career! It may act as the very first step to your writing career. Some alumni of Bennington College include twelve Pulitzer Prize winners, three US poet laureates, countless New York times bestsellers, and more.
4. You are given feedback on your work
Entering competitions allow you to gain valuable feedback from both professionals and peers and see where you are compared to other like-minded students. Win or lose, it is likely that you’ll receive constructive feedback from the judges, which can help you refine your skills and improve as a writer for future competitions. You can even ask the teacher who sponsored you to go over your work with you. This is an opportunity to learn and grow, even if you’re unable to win this time around.
5. You will demonstrate that you can take on a challenge
Applying for prestigious awards pushes you to set higher goals; this will motivate you to improve your writing! Students should take it as a healthy challenge to produce their best work. The development that one goes through when overcoming a challenge is just as valuable as the award. Colleges will take it as a sign that you aren’t afraid to push yourself, to strive for personal growth and improvement.
6.You will demonstrate your passion
By winning an award with Bennington, you show that you love writing. No one who doesn’t love writing would be able to win, or even find the motivation to enter the competition! You show college admission officers that this is something you’re really interested in, something you have a talent for, and something that you’ve already taken steps to pursue. Having this award is a fantastic way to signal to colleges both your skills as a writer and your passion for writing. This is something that’ll truly set you apart from the rest of the crowd.
Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are passionate about a specific field and are interested in doing 1-1, in-depth research with a top PhD as your mentor, then you could consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online program for high school students, founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Image Source: Bennington Young Writers Awards logo