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Clark/Washburn Undergraduate Essay Contest

What is the Clark University/Washburn University Undergraduate Essay Contest?

The Clark University/Washburn University Essay Competition has been established thanks to a generous donation from the Paul Family Foundation to engage undergraduate students from across each campus. Students will have the opportunity to broaden their thinking about topics important to themselves and to our country and to share their ideas in a formal written essay with the opportunity to earn scholarships of as much as $10,000.

How are Clark and Washburn universities connected?

Clark and Washburn universities have shared a very similar history. Both institutions began in the late 19th century and have ties to Worcester, Mass. Benefactors Jonas Clark and Ichabod Washburn were successful Worcester businessmen who recognized and valued the importance of education. Their financial generosity assured that the universities could survive in a challenging time.

Embedded in both universities’ respective mission statements exists the overarching commitment to student learning. These exceptional teaching universities offer a broad liberal arts education based on critical thinking and communication skills, both verbal and written. Accordingly, students are encouraged to think deeply about a wide range of topics and explore many disciplines.

Who is eligible to participate?

Any current full-time or part-time undergraduate student pursuing any major may submit an essay for consideration.

What are the awards?

The top three essays for each university will receive scholarship awards that shall be used for tuition, fees, books, room, board, and any other appropriate educational expense during the spring 2022 semester or subsequent semesters in which the student is enrolled. In addition, up to five essays can be recognized as exemplary with the designation of honorable mention. The awards shall be as follows:

  • First place: $10,000 scholarship
  • Second place: $5,000 scholarship
  • Third place: $2,000 scholarship
  • Fourth through eighth place: Honorable mention

What is the deadline?

Deadline for submissions is Dec. 15, 2021. Submissions should be directed to Jessica Bane-Robert at

How is the essay contest structured?

Competition intent

The sponsors’ hope is that students will be stimulated to:

  • Identify current U.S. national economic and social trends;
  • Posit the most likely impact of these trends by 2025;
  • Hypothesize how these trends will impact your and your generation’s professional career choice;
  • Speculate how the writer hopes to contribute to the future of the United States.

Subject guidance

The essay must address one or more of the following:

  • Economic trends — examples include, but are not limited to, economic predictions on metrics such as inflation, equity markets, real estate values, bond yields, etc.
  • Social trends — examples include, but are not limited to, social predictions on issues such as policies on immigration, healthcare, climate, income inequality, racial injustice, social media, technology, etc.

Essay writers must explain the rationale for the choice of the trends they examine, and they must discuss how these trends intersect with the societal value of free speech.


All essay submissions must be between 15 and 25 pages in length (exclusive of references, but inclusive of footnotes/endnotes), double spaced, 12-point type, standard margins.

Co-authorship with another undergraduate student is allowed (in this case the prize will be split), but not with graduate students or faculty members. Students can also use/modify a paper already written for a class, or a section of an honors thesis.


In addition to funding these prizes, Clark will receive an unrestricted gift of $8,000 for the organization and judging of the competition.

Before selecting winners, Clark will provide the sponsors at least six essays considered as potential winners. The sponsors will review these submissions for consistency with the charge and the intent of the competition. If any essay is deemed ineligible, the university may provide a substitute candidate.

After the sponsor review, the university will select the winners and assist in publication and promotion of the competition, and the students’ work.

Have more questions?

Questions should be directed to Jessica Bane-Robert at