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:
- Howard Roark says to Gail Wynand: “Look at everyone around us. You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he’s ever held a truly personal desire, he’d find the answer. . . . He can’t say about a single thing: ‘This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me.’ . . . The things which are sacred or precious to us are the things we withdraw from promiscuous sharing. But now we are taught to throw everything within us into public light and common pawing.” In light of this view, what do you think Roark would make of people’s behavior today on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram? Give examples of what he might approve or disapprove of. Would you agree or disagree with his evaluation? Explain your position.
- After the death of Lucius Heyer, Keating tells himself: “He had nothing to regret; he had done what anyone would have done; Catherine had said it, he was selfish; everybody was selfish; it was not a pretty thing, to be selfish, but he was not alone in it.” What do you think is motivating Keating to tell himself this at this point in the story? What does The Fountainhead have to say about whether what he’s saying is true? Do you agree? Why or why not?
- Dominique says to Alvah Scarret: “I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah, freedom. . . . To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” What does Dominique mean by this, and how does she act on her view over the course of the novel? What is Dominique’s perspective on this kind of “freedom” at the end of the novel, and why?
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:
- Top Prize: $5,000
- Second Prizes (3): $1,250
- Third Prizes (5): $250
- Finalist (25): $100
- Semi-finalist (50): $25
When are the Fountainhead Essay Contest applications due?
The deadline to submit your essay and application is April 28, 2022!
Submit your essay through the online application portal accessible at aynrand.org/contests. Students unable to submit their essays electronically should contact [email protected] to arrange another option.
Best of luck to all who apply! For more writing contests, check out our list of writing & essay scholarships!