Princeton Tutoring Essay Competition

Princeton Tutoring is sponsoring our first annual essay competition! (For additional competition details and rules, please visit

The underlying purpose of this year’s topics is to foster student self-awareness. Additionally, thinking about these types of questions will prepare students for the types of prompts they might encounter on their college applications.

  • High School Topic – Do you believe there are inherent conflicts between achieving both success and happiness?
  • Middle School Topic – Interview your family members and discover something about your family history that you might not have known before. Write about the significance of what you learned and what it means to you.

[Continue reading for additional thoughts on these topics]

Properly responding to the high school topic will require significant introspection, and will be difficult to answer for even college students and working professionals. Both topics force students to step back from their hectic schedules for a moment and reflect upon both the past and future.

It’s never too early to begin the habit of asking yourself these important questions:

  • How have my past experiences influenced my current beliefs?
  • What are the things that truly make me happy?
  • Consequently, what are my goals?
  • How do I plan on achieving those goals?

The reality is that your responses to these questions will most likely evolve over time as you learn more about yourself. Thus, it is helpful to reflect on and recalibrate your goals regularly and think about how to achieve those goals. It is our hope that this exercise is the first of many that will lead to increased self-awareness and will make it a little easier when you encounter tough questions in the future such as: Which college should I attend? What field of study should I choose? What do I want to do with my life? What types of jobs should I apply for? Should I go to graduate school? Is it time to switch industries?

Good luck to all who are entering the competition!

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