Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards


William J Schulz Memorial First Place Award: $3,000
Second Place Award: $2,000
Third Place Award: $1,000
Fourth Place Award: $750
Fifth Place Award: $600
Sixth Place Award: $500
Seventh Place Award: $400

Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

All eligible entrants will receive a full one year complimentary student membership, which includes a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper (publishes winning student essays). 

All eligible entrants also will be offered a complimentary, sweatshop-free cottonT-shirt (let us choose the color). The upbeat message includes a rhyme by the "slightly irreverent" lyricist Yip ("Over the Rainbow") Harburg: "They who live on love and laughter/Don't mess around with the hereafter." 
To order T-Shirt see end of this survey.

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: “Why I believe 'They who live on love and laughter don't mess around with the hereafter.'"

PROMPT: The "slightly irreverent" lyricist Yip ("Over the Rainbow) Harburg wrote the above rhyme. Tell us why you don't "mess around with the hereafter." Is the idea of an "afterlife" counterproductive to enjoying life now or improving this world? Write about why you personally reject religion and its promise of an afterlife, and why you think this world is the one that matters. 

WORD LENGTH: 350-500 words
ELIGIBILITY: Open to high school seniors who graduate in spring 2018,  who will be attending a North American college or university in fall 2018.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than midnight, June 1, 2018.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out online submission form and attach essay. Essay must be typed, double-spaced, standard margins, font size  of 11 to 14 point, and attached as a PDF. Your name and the name of your essay must be included on every page. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of essay. Please choose your own title; do not use the topic of the essay as the title. Do not attach a resume with your essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your winning essay to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper; announced in a news release; and posted online at FFRF's website. You also agree, if you win an award, to promptly provide FFRF with a high resolution photograph of yourself suitable for reproduction with your winning essay.

REQUIREMENTS: Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions, including word limit and deadline. FFRF monitors for plagiarism.