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The Fountainhead Essay Contest 2016

Deadline: 29-Apr-2016

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AwardCash upto $10,000
EligibilityClass 11, 12
Scholarship provider contact


If you do not find the answers to your questions in our FAQ, you may submit a question to us. Please note that while we value your comments and inquiries, limited resources prevent our ability to engage in lengthy philosophic correspondence. Due to the high volume of mail received, we cannot guarantee a response.


The Ayn Rand Institute
2121 Alton Parkway, Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92606


PHONE 949-222-6550

FAX 949-222-6558


Eligibility: 11th and 12th GRADERS

Entry Deadline: APRIL 29, 2016

  • 1ST PLACE: $10,000: 1 Winner

  • 2ND PLACE: $2,000: 5 Winners

  • 3RD PLACE $1,000: 10 Winners

  • FINALISTS: $100: 45 Winners

  • SEMIFINALISTS: $50: 175 Winners



  • No application is required. Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law. Essays must be written in English only.
  • Entrant must be in the 11th or 12th grade.
  • To avoid disqualification, mailed-in essays must include a stapled cover sheet with the following information:
    1.  your name and address;
    2.  your email address (if available);
    3.  the name and address of your school;
    4.  topic selected (#1, 2 or 3 from the “Topics” tab);
    5.  your current grade level; and
    6.  (optional) the name of the teacher who assigned the essay if you are completing it for classroom credit.
  • Essay must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
  • One entry per student.
  • Essay must be submitted online or postmarked by April 29, 2016, no later than 11:59 PM, Pacific standard time.
  • The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned.
  • Winners, finalists, semifinalists and all other participants will be notified via email and/or by mail by July 28, 2016.
  • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Contest winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

How to apply?

Submit your Essay Online Or mail your essay with stapled cover sheet to:

The Fountainhead Essay Contest 
The Ayn Rand Institute 
P.O Box 57044 
Irvine, CA 92619-7044

Please do not submit duplicate essays!

Entrants are responsible for keeping copies of their essays, as duplicate copies will not be provided. If submitting your essay electronically, you will be sent an email confirming their receipt. If you have not received an email notification within 24 hours, please email If you are submitting by mail, please paperclip a stamped, self-addressed postcard to your essay and they will return it to you with essay receipt confirmation.

More Information


  • When Roark refuses the Manhattan Bank Building contract he says that this is “the most selfish thing you’ve ever seen a man do.” And in his courtroom speech, he argues for selfishness and egoism and against the conventional morality of altruism. Do you think he is correct to praise selfishness and denounce altruism? Why or why not? Explain.
  • Ellsworth Toohey and Gail Wynand both spend much of their lives consciously seeking power over others. But is their quest for power the same? How do each man’s goals and motivations contrast to those of Roark?
  • In the characters of Dominique Francon and Howard Roark, The Fountainhead offers an uncompromising approach to life. Do you think this approach to life is practical? Why or why not? Judging both from the novel and from what Rand writes in her short essay “Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?” do you think Rand thinks the approach is practical? Explain. *
  • * “Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?” by Ayn Rand will be available to read on this webpage by December 15, 2015.


Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify their view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of The Fountainhead.


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