International students in High school aged below 19 can now send in entries for the 2012/2013 Optimist Essay contest on the topic: “How Can I Help My Friends Realize Their Value?”
The Optimist International essay contest is aimed at developing the reading and writing culture of youths worldwide and also to spur them to develop themselves intellectually through optimal utilisation of their creative writing skills.

  • The Optimist International Essay contest is divided into two levels of competition: Club and District.
  • Contestants must enter through a local Optimist Club, or an at-large contest if a local club is not available.
  • Contestants must compose an original essay with limited guidance from others. Webster’s dictionary defines an essay as an analytic or interpretative literary composition. Works of fiction or poetry will not be accepted.
  • All District-level competitions must have a minimum of 3 contestants participating.
  • Optimist International will have the right to edit, publish or otherwise duplicate any essay entered into the contest without payment to the author.

Worth of Awards

  • Club level –  the winner will receive a medallion
  • District level – plaque and a $2,500 college scholarship for the first-place winner
    • Scholarships are funded by the Optimist International Foundations of the United States and Canada. Scholarships awarded are for use at a college, university or trade school only.
    • All scholarships will be payable to the educational institution of the recipient’s choice, subject to the approval of Optimist International.
    • All scholarships will be administered by Optimist International.
    • Winners of an Optmist International scholarship must claim their scholarship by the age of 25.


  • The contest is open to students under age 19 who have not yet graduated from high school or the equivalent. Students must enter in the District in which they reside. U.S. students attending school on military installations outside the United States are eligible to enter in their last home of record.
  • Contestants are eligible for only one Club’s contest during any given year.
  • No student who has previously won an Optimist Essay contest scholarship will be eligible to compete at any level of the competition again.
  • All contestants at each level of the contest must furnish a copy of their birth certificate or passport before participating.

How to Apply

  • Participants must write on the official topic.
  • Each entry must begin with a title page containing: the official topic, number of words, writer’s name, address, phone number, name of school and date of birth.
  • At the top of page 1 should be the official topic and the number of words (penalty of 2 points for lack of topic and 5 points for failure to identify the total number of words correctly).
  • Essays must be typewritten and double-spaced. (Deduction of 5 points)
  • Essays must contain at least 700 words but no more than 800 words. Every word of the essay is counted. This does not include the title, bibliography or footnotes. Hyphenated words count as 1 word (Deduction of 5 points for each 25 words over/under limit).
  • Each page of the essay must be numbered starting with page 1 of the essay, not the title page. The numbers must be centered at the bottom of each page.
  • Any quotations or copyrighted material used must be identified properly. For example, use of a specific writer’s format (such as MLA) may be specified by the instructor overseeing the contest. Failure to identify non-original material will result in disqualification.
  • No reference can be made in the essay that identifies the student, parents, school, community, sponsoring Optimist Club or District. (Deduction of 5 points or fraction based on degree of identification)
  • An essay may be written in English, French or Spanish if the language used is an official language of the country in which the sponsoring Club is located.
  • The entry must be stapled together in the upper left-hand corner. Covers of any type are not accepted.

Click here for more details on the essay