At Let Grow, we believe that kids can handle so much more than society gives them credit for. That includes the ability to process ideas that are unfamiliar or even unsettling. To find out just how young people are doing that -- thinking for themselves -- we hold an annual "Think for Yourself" college scholarship essay contest, open to high school students. It asks questions like:
Have you ever had a serious political argument with a friend? What did it take to remain close?
Do you think young people should be shielded from controversial books and ideas because these could be traumatizing or offensive?
Did you ever learn something…from a jerk?
This year --2018-2019 -- 9,462 students submitted essays. Yes, we read them all, learning that this is a country of kids actually eager to think about the polarization in America, and censorship, and freedom, and creating and keeping friendships. There were so many moving, funny, exciting essays it was extremely tough to choose our winners. But of course we did, and here they are:
First Place Winner, $5,000 Scholarship::
Elande Abate, Olathe, KS
Three Runners Up, $1,000 Scholarships:
Eilise McLaughlin, Tucson, AZ
Carter Moore, Anchorage, AK
Madison Scroggins, Decatur, TX
So far, two of the winners' essays have gotten published!
Read Eilise’s here, published in the bible of the education world, Education Week.
Read Carter’s here, published in The New York Post.
As we await word on whether other publications will print Elande and Madison’s work, we cannot share their essays here yet. That’s because many publications insist on exclusivity, and even running the essays here on our blog could preclude their running elsewhere.
Meantime, if you are still in high school, get ready to enter this year’s contest! Details will be published later this month.
Read last year's winning essays here.