If you’re interested in visual art, sculpture-making, film, poetry, creative writing, journalism, or more, this is the competition for you. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is the longest-running and one of the most prestigious regional and national art competitions. It is meant to recognize creativity among middle and high school students in the United States, with 29 possible categories, including painting, sculpture, photography, poetry, personal memoir, and more. Participating and winning an award in any category is a fantastic addition to your resume and shows colleges your passion for and commitment to the arts.
How to enter
To be eligible, you must be a student in grades 7-12. 12th graders are also able to submit a portfolio if they so choose. To enter, you will create an account, upload your work(s), and pay an entry fee of $10/entry or $30/portfolio. The Scholastic Awards typically open for entries in September and close their application in December. This timeline will vary for your region: you can check your region’s specific deadline on the Scholastic Awards website.
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is both a regional and national competition. This means you first compete regionally (within your state), where your entries may be given one of three awards: gold key, silver key, or honorable mention, with the gold key being the most prestigious. Regional winners are invited to a regional ceremony, where they are given their awards, and gold key works are displayed in a gallery for all to see. Gold Key winners will then move on to the national level. This level is much more selective; being a national medalist is an incredibly reputable and distinguished award. You may be chosen to be a national gold key medalist or a national silver key medalist. Medalists are also eligible for other awards; for example, you may win the “Best in the Grade” award. High school seniors submitting a portfolio are eligible for scholarships of up to $12,500. Submissions are judged by luminaries and experts in the visual and literary arts.
There are many well-known winners of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Sylvia Plath, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Andy Warhol, the famous artist and pop culture icon, and Joyce Carol Oates, acclaimed author of numerous novels, were all winners of several Scholastic Awards as teenagers. They are just a few of the many successful artists and writers who were recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards early in their careers.
Why should you apply?
As a prestigious competition, there are many reasons one might compete in the Scholastic Awards. In this guide, we’ve listed 6 reasons you should consider applying!
1. The award is prestigious
Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Awards have a long and reputable history. Winning a Scholastic Art and Writing Award is a prestigious honor—it’s not given to just everyone. Getting the chance to win a national award is an even bigger and more prestigious honor. It shows everyone that you have truly recognizable and celebrated skills in the artistic world. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is a very recognizable name to college admission officers; having this award on your application will be something they will take note of when reading through your file.
2. Entering the competition demonstrates your passion
It is assumed that when you win an award in a Scholastic Award category, you not only have talent in this category, but you also have a genuine interest and love for this field. Having this award on your college application is a fantastic way to signal to colleges that you are passionate about this art field. Not only that, but it shows that you’re willing to pursue and explore your interests by entering a selective competition. You show that you are creative, that you value creativity, and will continue to pursue creative endeavors. There is nothing colleges love more!
3. Your work is given valuable exposure
Winning pieces of artwork or writing are featured in exhibitions and publications. For example, Gold Key winners in Massachusetts are listed in the Boston Globe newspaper, along with select photos of winning works. Their works are put in a gallery for everyone to view. This gives students very valuable exposure to the art world, potentially opening doors to new opportunities. If you think this is a field you want to explore further, this is one of the best ways you might first put your name and your work out there. Many art teachers and experts visit the regional winners’ exhibit; your work could be seen by someone significant! This competition is seen as an important stepping stone for young artists and writers who hope to pursue a career in the arts and humanities.
Here are some examples of the type of work that’s submitted.
4. You are given feedback on your work
You can take the competition as a valuable learning experience. If your piece doesn’t win any award, you are given the chance to think about how to improve on it and resubmit it next year. All winners are listed on their website; take the opportunity to look through them and see what the judges are looking for. There are also instances of students receiving constructive feedback after the competition. This can help improve your craft and develop your skills, for future competitions, opportunities, and even a career.
To add to this, there are many programs and workshops you can attend throughout the year. All of these help you to hone your skills beyond the competition.
5. You could win a scholarship of up to $12,500!
Some works might stand out enough for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards to offer you a scholarship. For example, standout senior portfolios are given up to $12,500. The “Flaunt It” award offers two $1,000 scholarships for teens whose work celebrates individual differences. The “New York Life” award gives $1,000 scholarships to six students whose works explore death and personal grief. This gives you an added honor and helps you afford higher education. In addition, keep in mind that many colleges and universities can offer scholarships specifically for decorated Scholastic Art and Writing Award winners.
6. The competition fosters a community that you get to be a part of
Participating in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards connects you with a community of other young artists and writers. Although you’ll all be from different backgrounds, you’ll all be bound by a shared interest in the arts; you can learn from each other, work with each other, and help each other. You’ll also be connected to professionals in the field. Think about its long list of prestigious alumni! The competition is meant to foster creativity, but also success for its students; you are more than welcome to reach out to anyone in its network and ask for advice, support, or inspiration.
Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are passionate about a specific field and are interested in doing 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.
Amelia is a current junior at Harvard College studying art history with a minor in economics. She’s enthusiastic about music, movies, and writing, and is excited to help Lumiere’s students as much as she can!
Image source: Scholastic Art and Writing Awards