Rules and Guidelines


The 2017 Contest Is Open!


  1. Your memo must be between 1,000 and 1,250 words.
  2. Complete the AFSA National High School Essay Contest Entry Submission 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.
  3. Upload a copy of your original work in English on the designated topic, which should include a comprehensive list of sources consulted, to your AFSA National High Essay Contest Entry Submission Form. You must write on one of the topics provided; memos on other topics will not be accepted. Please mention the country in the subject line of your memo.
  4. All submissions must be original work, have a title, include a word count and have cited sources (word count does not apply to the list of sources.) All sources, including articles you have written, must be cited.
  5. 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, 8th ed., will be expected for (1) documentation of sources in the text of your memo; (2) the format of the list of works cited; and (3) margins and indentation.6. A bibliography following the MLA Handbook must be included. Memos should use a variety of sources—academic journals, news magazines, newspapers, books, government documents, publications from research organizations. At least three of the cited materials should be primary sources (a document, speech, or other sort of evidence written, created or otherwise produced during the time under study). General encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, are not acceptable as sources. Memos citing general encyclopedias in notes or bibliography may be disqualified. Websites should not be the only source of information for your essay and need to be properly cited.
  6. Do not place your last name or your school's name on any of the pages of the essay. Only the registration form should include this information.
  7. Memos MUST be submitted in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format. Memos submitted in any other format will not be considered.
  8. Faxed submissions will not be accepted
  9. Your memo will be disqualified if it does not meet the requirements or is submitted after the submission date of 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 15, 2017.
  10. Students 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 U.S. citizens 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, the U.S. Institute of Peace, National Student Leadership Conference and Semester at Sea are not eligible to participate. Previous honorable mention recipients are eligible to enter.
  11. 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.
  12. Your memo will become the property of the American Foreign Service Association once it is submitted, and will not be returned.
  13. The decisions of the judges are final.

Thank you for your memo 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 2017. The names of winners and honorable mentions will be posted on the AFSA website in July 2017.