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College Scholarship: Ayn Rand “The Fountainhead” Essay Contest

College costs are on the rise, and many families find it challenging to keep up with the increasing expenses. With 85% of college students on financial aid and 70% graduating with significant student debt, it’s no surprise that college funding is a growing concern for many families. The good news is that scholarships can significantly help to fund a college education, and there are more options out there than most families are aware of. In this series, we outline some great scholarship opportunities for college bound teens. To learn more about the Ayn Rand “The Fountainhead” Essay Contest, and how you can win up to $10,000 towards your college education, keep reading.

About the Ayn Rand “The Fountainhead” Essay Contest

Ayn Rand’s first novel, “The Fountainhead” is widely recognized for its philosophical themes reflecting on the economics of selfishness, and Ayn Rand’s own objectivism. While the characters and themes may at first seem one-dimensional, the novel has become known for its unusual philosophy that places value in both capitalism and individualism.


Over the years, Ayn Rand has amassed an extensive following, one that is now nurtured by the Ayn Rand Institute. For over 30 years, the Ayn Rand Institute has been host to worldwide essay contests for students based on the fiction of Ayn Rand. In 2019, they will award over 230 prizes, totaling more than $70,000.


Students who wish to participate in “The Fountainhead” essay contest must submit an essay that addresses one of three prompts based on “The Fountainhead”. The prompts for 2019 are:



  • In his climactic courtroom speech, Howard Roark states: “The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite’s concern is the conquest of men.” Explain how this quote relates to the theme as dramatized through the characters of Howard Roark, Peter Keating and Ellsworth Toohey.



  • When Toohey first meets his niece Catherine, he is described as seeing a particular look on her face. What is the significance of his reaction to her look? How does his treatment of Catherine through the rest of the novel encapsulate his overall strategy for dealing with the world? For your essay, consider also what Ayn Rand says in the essay “Through Your Most Grievous Fault.”



  • Choose the scene in The Fountainhead that is most meaningful to you. Analyze that scene in terms of the wider themes in the book. In your essay, consider also what Ayn Rand has to say about what art, including literature, can do for us, in this excerpt from “The Goal of My Writing.”



Essays are judged on a student’s skillful use of evidence to justify his or her viewpoint, and not on whether or not the student’s perspective agrees with the judges’ viewpoints. Judges look for writing that is “clear, articulate and logically organized [and] winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of ‘The Fountainhead’.”


The first place winner receives $10,000. Three second place winners will receive $2,500 each, while five third place winners will receive $500 each. A pool of 50 finalists will each receive $50.

“The Fountainhead” Essay Contest Requirements

Entries are open to students around the world, but all essays submitted must be written in English. Entrants must be in 11th or 12th grade for any part of the school year in which the contest is held.


Essays should be between 800 and 1600 words, and errors in spelling or grammar will result in point deductions during the scoring process. Essays can be submitted through the mail or online.


All submissions must be submitted online or postmarked by April 25, 2019, no later than 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time. Winners will be notified in July 2019. Be sure to read the complete Contest Details for a list of all rules and requirements.

Tips on Submitting an Essay for Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” Essay Contest

Read and Follow All Directions. We know that juggling the various deadlines and rules of multiple scholarship contests at once can require a lot of organization, but missing a deadline or overlooking a rule will usually result in quick disqualification. Consider for a minute that most scholarship programs have hundreds if not thousands of applicants. Those who fail to abide by the official rules provide an easy and reasonable excuse for thinning them out of the applicant pool. Ensure that you don’t go down so easily by carefully adhering to all requirements.


Proofread Your Work. In any scholarship contest, the way that you present yourself on paper is especially important, but in an essay contest it becomes essential. In “The Fountainhead” contest, any grammatical or spelling errors are cause for the judges to deduct points from your final score. With big prizes on the line and many entrants vying for them, proofread your work closely so that you don’t lose any points to careless typos.  


Use the Resources Provided. In many essay contests or scholarship programs, there is very little guidance provided about the direction to take your work. While you’ll ultimately have to come up with your own unique point-of-view to be successful in this contest, there are many resources provided by the Ayn Rand Institute, and you’d be silly not to take advantage of them. Start with the example essays from past winners to see the level of work expected. Then, move on to the Resources tab to find a list of readings and lectures recommended to improve your essay content. Carefully review the available resources before you begin your essay.


Create a Scholarship Team. While it goes without saying that any work you submit needs to be yours and yours alone, there are no rules to stop you from using teachers, mentors, and friends as a sounding board for your ideas. Discuss your essay ahead of time and take feedback seriously, using it to shape the direction of your work. Then, once you’ve written your essay, gather more feedback and enlist some outside help for editing and proofreading your work. You never know when another set of eyes will find a typo or syntax error that blended in before.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.