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The Best Essay Contest

The Best Essay Contest celebrates the strongest writing composed in First-Year Composition classes. Papers are nominated by instructors, reviewed by a panel of faculty readers, and then judged by the Officers of Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honor Society). The top essays are then recognized during the Spring Sigma Tau Delta Induction Ceremony.  

Winners of the Best Essay Contest make some common moves:

  • They show originality in approach to the topic and development.
  • They use a distinctive, appropriate voice that conveys a sophisticated or personal style.
  • They present a clear thesis.
  • They are effectively organized.
  • They are grammatically and mechanically clean (though not necessarily perfect).
  • They use diction appropriate to audience and purpose.
  • If applicable, they conform to MLA/APA manuscript conventions, including MLA/APA documentation.
  • If applicable, they draw upon varied and appropriate sources and effectively integrate outside source material.

If you have an essay that you have written for a First-Year Composition course that you are particularly proud of, we invite you to ask your instructor to submit it to the contest! Fill out the Best Essay Contest submission form, attach it to a copy of your essay, and pass those documents along to your instructor to submit to the Coordinator of Composition. Then email a digital version of your essay along with a reflection on the process of writing your essay or on advice you have for other student writers (as a .doc, .docx, or PDF) directly to Denise Paster, the current Coordinator of Composition, at dpaster@coastal.edu. Who knows? You may see your work published in the next edition of the Guide!