Essay Topic: How Will Adult Education Help Me Reach the Next Level?

  • Eligibility: Any adult education student enrolled during the program year of the contest may participate. The student must also agree to attend the award/recognition ceremony and sign a release form for marketing purposes. 
  • Length: Essays should be no longer than 750 words. This is a maximum word count; if your response to the prompt can be clearly and powerfully communicated in fewer than 750 words, that is great.
  • Language: Essays should be written in English and represent the student’s original work.  Students are welcome to write their essay in their native language (if not English), but it must be translated into English for submission.
  • Original Work: A teacher can provide pre-writing activities and appropriate review, editing, and translation support.  But the ideas, content, structure, and style of the actual essay MUST come from the student alone.
  • Contest Format:  Each adult education program collects student essays.  Each regional consortium selects 1 to 3 essays for statewide judging.
  • Submission: Essays selected by the consortium for statewide judging should be submitted with the form below by Nov. 18, 2021.
  • Timeline: 
  • Oct. 29, 2021.  Essays are due to the Consortium.
  • Nov. 18, 2021.  One to three essays selected by the Consortium are due to the IAACE Executive Director (director@iaace.com)
  • Nov. 19, 2021.  Executive Director sends essays to judges
  • Dec. 31, 2021.  Judges send results back to Executive Director 
  • Jan. 5, 2022.  Executive Director notifies the winner and the winner’s program and invites them to attend Adult Education Day at the Rotunda.
  • Jan. 24, 2022.  The winner and program are recognized at Adult Education Day at the Rotunda.
  • Titling Documents for Submission: To help us organize and manage the significant number of files that are submitted, please use the following guidelines when titling your file prior to submission. Essays that are not saved with this naming format will lose 2 of a total possible 15 points in the review process.
    • Name the file “LastnameFirstname_Essay2021_Region#”. For example, Whitney Retallic – “RetallicWhitney_Essay2021_Region1”.
  • Winners: A panel of judges comprised of legislators will award one Winner and a limited number of Honorable Mentions. The Winner’s essay, as well as the Honorable Mentions, will be featured on our website, alongside a brief profile and picture of the authors. In addition, the Winner and the Honorable Mentions will receive recognition from the Adult Education Day at the Rotunda and will have the opportunity to read his/her essay to the membership.
  • Evaluation Criteria: Essays will be evaluated using the following criteria:
    • INTRODUCTION/THESIS The essay effectively takes into account, the entirety of the prompt. If an essay does not make an earnest attempt to address the Contest’s prompt, it will not be considered for review.
    • MAIN POINTS/Body Paragraphs — The essay is organized and well-structured. 
    • ORGANIZATION Structure Transitions — The thesis/main message is clear and supported throughout.  The essay does not stray from the main message. 
    • STYLE Writer’s Voice, Audience Awareness — The essay uses a highly engaging and personal style. The author finds fresh or interesting ways to convey ideas. The author approaches the topic from a unique perspective.
    • MECHANICS Punctuation, spelling, capitalization are correct.

Tips & Suggestions for Writing Your Essay

  1. Make the essay personal. Make a personal statement or tell a story that provides insight into your own experiences and views. Make sure you address how adult education has changed your life by helping you to attain your Next Level of Career Advancement. Use the pronoun “I”.
  2. Use “talk it out” or “rapid free write” activities to spark ideas. Pretend a journalist or interviewer has asked you to comment on the essay prompt. Respond out loud, off the top of your head. Record your response or have a friend take notes about what you said. Alternatively, give yourself five minutes to write a response. Don’t stop editing yourself. Just write. Analyze your response. What worked? What didn’t? Were there any particularly strong points or angles?  Repeat the activity. This time, deliberately change your approach (try to answer the question a different way).
  3. Try an idea web or mapping brainstorm activity. Use a graphic organizer or make your own. Draw a circle or bubble at the center of a piece of paper. Write 1-3 words that capture the essay topic or theme inside the bubble. Think about words, ideas, memories associated with the theme. Write each in other bubbles surrounding the one in the center.

Essay Contest Scoring Guide

Criteria 1 Point 2 Points 3 Points 4 Points Points Awarded
Introduction and Thesis The response has little or no connection to the topic of the essay.  The response lacks an introduction and/or conclusion. The response somewhat addresses the essay topic.  The introduction and conclusion are minimally developed The response clearly addresses the essay topic.   Several ideas with limited or uneven explanation are provided; few or only general examples and/or details support ideas.

The response has an introduction and conclusion, though one or both of these may be underdeveloped.

The response strongly addresses the essay topic.  Complete explanations are provided.   Specific,
relevant, and somewhat elaborated reasons, examples, and/or details support the writer’s ideas.

The introduction and conclusion are clear and sufficient

Main Points and Body Paragraphs The essay fails to demonstrate any understanding of paragraphing. Transitions are not used or may be used incorrectly.  The essay is not organized or structured. Some related ideas are grouped together though paragraphing may not be used. Few transitions are used. Ideas are grouped together in paragraphs, though the relationship among ideas may at times be unclear. Transitions are simple and used inconsistently. Clear and appropriate
paragraphing is used. Varied transitions and logical sequencing of ideas are used throughout to link major sections of text, create cohesion, and clarify relationships between ideas.
Style Word choice and sentence structure are simple. The response
lacks formal style and an objective tone
Word choice is general and repetitive. The response has repetitive sentence structure and/or long, uncontrolled sentences. The response lacks formal style and/or an objective tone. Word choice is general and the response demonstrates a little variety in sentence structure, although a few long, uncontrolled sentences may be used. The essay uses a highly engaging and personal style. The author finds fresh or interesting ways to convey ideas. The author approaches the topic from a unique perspective.
Language Mechanics Minimal or no command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage is demonstrated. Errors in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling frequently appear. Limited command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage is demonstrated. Numerous errors in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling appear and may
interfere with understanding
Partial command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage is demonstrated. Errors in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling are regularly 

present throughout the response and may sometimes interfere with understanding.

Able command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage is demonstrated. Few, if any, errors in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling appear, and most are
superficial and do not interfere with understanding.
Essay No.  _________                 Total Points

Please submit your essay below:

Essay Contest Submission

Date submitted(Required)
Student Name(Required)
Max. file size: 64 MB.
Please upload your 750-word of Essay as in PDF format The file name should be in this format: “LastnameFirstname_Essay2021_Region#”. For example, Whitney Retallic - “RetallicWhitney_Essay2021_Region1”.
Email(Required)