High School Essay Contest

This program enhances Rice’s relationship to a High School audience generally not represented in substantial ways in its undergraduate population. Students at some of the more economically challenged HISD high schools are invited to participate in this essay contest that encourages them to think creatively about solutions to problems facing their communities. Winners receive scholarships and a Princeton Review SAT Preparation course taught at the Rice Campus. All entrants are invited to Rice for an essay-writing workshop that includes presentations from admissions/financial aid counselors.  

Thank you to Charlos and Lee M. Riley Endowed Fund for their generous support of CERCL's High School Outreach Initiative.

In response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation and ongoing changes to Rice University and HISD's Spring semester we are postponing the 2020 HS Essay Contest Deadline until further notice.

over

2400

HISD STUDENTS  PARTICIPATED IN THE CONTEST SINCE 2008

15%

OF THE PARTICIPANTS WHO APPLIED TO RICE WERE ADMITTED

(Rice average

acceptance
rate is 9%)

STUDENTS WHO ATTENDED THE SAT PREP COURSE RAISED THEIR SCORES
AN AVERAGE OF

200

points

Participating Schools & Students

  • Houston Independent School District (HISD)

  • Title One schools (with acceptable or recognized rating from the Texas Education Agency)

  • Sophomores (with 3.0 GPA or Top 10% of his/her class)

Contest

Students write an essay (500-750 words) on a topic meant to engage critical thinking. The Selection Committee (composed of Rice faculty/staff/students) will review the essays and select the winners. The review committee’s criteria are as follows:

  1. Complexity of thought

  2. Ambitious and well structured approach to the designated topic

  3. Successful argumentation and execution of the idea

  4. Compliance with the length limitation

Academic Support

CERCL is committed to developing awardees’ overall scholarly excellence and maximizing their potential as college applicants

School Visits

Rice students visit participating high schools each year

Writing workshop

All entrants attend a full day workshop covering general and college essay writing, an admissions talk and tour of campus

Princeton Review SAT Prep Course

Top ten essay writers attend a summer intensive SAT preparation course

Relationship Building

Through close contact with Title I Coordinators, College Coordinators and English Department Chairs and teachers we are able to offer opportunities through partnerships with other Rice Departments and community Partners

Prizes

Cash Prizes

First Place        $1000

Second Place   $750

Third Place       $500

 

Top 10 students attend a summer intensive SAT Prep course at Rice University

Plaque for the School with five or more winning essays

College essay and admissions workshop at Rice University for all students who enter the contest

Previous Essay Contest Questions

2008

 “What is the most important issue facing Houston during the Twenty-First Century?”

In the

NEWS

CERCL's founding Director, Anthony Pinn, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religious studies, and Ana Cuello, the first place winner of our 2009 Essay Contest were featured on KRIV-TV's 'Hola Houston'.

© 2008 - 2020 by CERCL Rice University