The Fountainhead Essay Contest is an annual contest on Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, a work where Rand puts forth her views on individualism versus collectivism. This contest awards up to $5,000 to high school juniors and seniors!
Who is eligible to apply for the Fountainhead Essay Contest?
Entrant must be enrolled as an 11th or 12th grade student (ages 16-18) at some point during the year in which the contest is being held.
Students are permitted to submit one entry per year.
How do I apply?
To enter, students must write an essay responding to one of three prompts on Anthem:
- Describe a situation in your own life when you faced a conflict between doing what you truly thought would advance your own goals in life, and doing what was approved of by society. What do you think Roark would decide to do in such a situation? What would Keating decide? Explain your answers by citing scenes from The Fountainhead. What decision did you make, and how would you compare it to Roark’s and Keating’s likely decisions?
- In an editorial defending Roark, Wynand writes: “It is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed. It is the unsacrificed self that we must respect in man above all.” What does The Fountainhead have to say about what it means to actually have a “self”? Illustrate by giving examples of major and minor characters who are described in ways that suggest that they either have or lack a self.
- The novel opens with the line “Howard Roark laughed.” What things does Roark laugh at in this scene, and in other scenes? Give a few examples from the book. Later in a scene with Keating, Toohey reveals that part of his method is to “kill by laughter.” What things does Toohey laugh at? Give a few examples. What is different about the things Roark and Toohey laugh at? Explain how the contrast reflects wider themes in the novel.
Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of The Fountainhead.
Essays should be written in English only, and should be between 800 and 1,600 words in length, double-spaced.
How much is awarded through the Fountainhead Essay Contest?
The award amounts are as follows:
- First Prize: $5,000 (1 winner)
- Second Prize: $1,000 (3 winners)
- Third Prize: $500 (5 winners)
When are the Fountainhead Essay Contest applications due?
The deadline to submit your essay and application is April 29, 2021!
Submit your essay through the online application portal accessible at aynrand.org/contests. Students unable to submit their essays electronically should contact email@example.com to arrange another option.
Best of luck to all who apply! For more writing contests, check out our list of writing & essay scholarships!