2016-17 Liberal Arts Essay Contest

Sponsored by the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts

The Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) is an association of Washington state public and private higher education institutions, organizations and individuals promoting the value of a liberal arts education to the people and communities of the state.

Submissions must address, in no more than 500 words, the following prompt:

A liberal arts education is characterized, in part, by the idea that understanding many different ways of knowing helps students develop into effective and responsible members of their communities.  Choose a current issue in your community and explain how you think about it as a liberally-educated citizen.


The essay contest is open to all undergraduate students currently enrolled in WaCLA member institutions, such as Puget Sound. Entrants will be divided into two categories: students who have freshman or sophomore standing; and those who have junior or senior standing. Puget Sound will select up to three essays in each category as finalists, to be submitted to WaCLA for statewide adjudication. 


Awards are made in two categories: freshmen/sophomores and juniors/seniors. Two awards are made in each category: $1,000 for first place and $750 for second place. Campus finalists will be announced by April 28, 2017. Contest winners will be announced by June 10, 2017.


500 words maximum submitted in a Microsoft Word document that is double-spaced with centered title and 12 point font. Submission for school consideration should include a WaCLA cover page

Deadline and Submission Instruction:

All entries must be submitted with a WaCla cover page to the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching by noon on Monday, April 24, 2017. 

You can read the winning essays from previous contests: 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16