The Third Annual South Carolina

High School Writing Contest

Due to historic flooding, the application deadline has been extended to November 23, 2015.


Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times best-selling author 

How it works

In 750 words or less, writing in any genre or combination of genres (essay, short story, poem, play, etc.), answer this question: “How should we improve the state of South Carolina?”

Submissions are evaluated based on originality of response and quality of writing. Up to thirty First-Round Winners, selected from the initial submissions, will be invited to the Honors College at the University of South Carolina Columbia campus to receive their awards and to participate in the Second Round Competition in February, 2016. The Second Round will consist of an impromptu 45-minute essay response to be written that day.


The contest is open to all high school students who are residents of South Carolina and who will be seniors or juniors in September 2015.

Award Details

Up to thirty First-Round Winners will be published in a USC Press anthology in the Young Palmetto Books series; will be recognized in press releases; will tour USC Libraries’ Special Collections and other USC campus highlights; will be reimbursed for travel expenses (in accord with state guidelines); and will receive formal certificates of award. For each grade level, the Grand Prize Winners, as selected by the judge, will receive additional cash awards: First Prize–$1000; Second Prize–$500; Third Prize–$250.

All finalists will receive:


1st Place Prize for Seniors is named for Dr. Walter B. Edgar and funded by Thad Westbrook.

1st Place Prize for Juniors is named for Dorothy S. Williams and funded by an anonymous donor.

Sponsored by the University of South Carolina Honors College, the University of South Carolina Press, Young Palmetto Books, and the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Sciences.

Finalists will be notified via email.