Essay Contest Rules and Guidelines


The deadline for 2015 will be 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time, March 15, 2015.

The topic will be posted on October 31, 2014.


1. Fill out the registration form. The teacher information is very important, as your teacher will be consulted should your essay be chosen as one of the top 25. If you do not include teacher information, your essay will not be accepted.

2.All submissions must be original work, have a title and include a word count (word count does not apply to the list of sources.) All sources, including articles you have written, must be cited.

3. Attach a copy of your original work in English on the designated topic, which should include a comprehensive list of sources consulted. You must write on one of the topics provided; essays on other topics will not be accepted. Please use the topic as the title of your essay.

4. Entries must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman or an equivalent font with a one-inch margin on all sides of the page. Standards of content and style from MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., will be expected for (1) documentation of sources in the text of your essay (see pages 123-212); (2) the format of the list of works cited (see sample page at end of the MLA Handbook); and (3) margins and indentation (see sample page also at end of Handbook).

5. A bibliography must be included. AT LEAST three of the sources you cite must be primary sources, i.e. books, periodicals or newspapers that you have researched. (A primary source is a document, speech, or other sort of evidence written, created or otherwise produced during the time under study. Primary sources offer an inside view of a particular event. They may be accessed online.) Other sources may be online-only materials, provided they are cited correctly as such. Any submissions lacking three primary sources will be disqualified. Note: Any essay using crowd-sourced and publicly editable sources such as Wikipedia will be disqualified! Please make sure to also separate your primary source list from your Internet source list.

6. Do not place your name or your school's name on any of the pages of the essay. Only the registration form should include this information.

7. Essays MUST be submitted in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format. Essays submitted in any other format will not be considered.

8. Faxed submissions will not be accepted.

9. Your essay will be disqualified if it does not meet the requirements or is submitted after the submission date of 11:59 pm EST on March 15, 2015.

10. Students who are U.S. citizens and whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate if they are in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, or if they are attending high school overseas. Students may be attending a public, private, or parochial school. Entries from home-schooled students are also accepted. Previous first-place winners and immediate relatives of directors or staff of the AFSA, Semester at Sea or the National Student Leadership Conference are not eligible to participate. Previous honorable mention recipients are eligible to enter. If your parent is in the Foreign Service please go to AFSA’s Scholarship site for other opportunities.

Teacher or Sponsor: Student registration forms must have a teacher or sponsor name. That person may review the submitted essay and act as the key contact between participants and AFSA. It is to the student’s advantage to have a coordinator review the essay to make sure it is complete, contains all the necessary forms, is free from typographical and grammatical errors, and addresses the topic.

Your essay will become the property of the American Foreign Service Association once it is submitted, and will not be returned.

The decisions of the judges are final.

Thank you for your essay submission and good luck!

PRIVACY POLICY: AFSA collects your information for this contest and for AFSA partners. You may be signed up to receive updates or information from AFSA and our partners. You may receive a message from our sponsor regarding their program offerings. You will be notified if you are the winner or an honorable mention in May 2015. The names of winners and honorable mentions will be posted on the AFSA web site in July 2015.