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2013-14 Essay Contest

Book-in-Common Critical Thinking Essay Contest 2013

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

 Sponsored by BinC, First Year Initiatives and Ideas to Action

Congratulations to our 2013 Critical Thinking Essay Contest Winners! The essay submissions were very competitive this year, and after review by faculty and staff members at the University of Louisville, these This I Believe essays stood out among the rest. Be sure to read the winning essays below!
BinC Essay Winner Promo

First Place Winner

Honorable Mention Winners


Submit your essay

Download the Essay Guidelines and Essay Rubric

Deadline: All entries must be submitted by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, December 4th.


Essay Prompt

This essay contest invites you to create your own belief statement of your personal beliefs, the values which rule your thoughts and actions. Tell not only what you believe, but also how you reached those beliefs.  Your essay will need to be brief, personal, concise, and well written.  For your essay/statement, you will follow the guidelines set forth by the This I Believe organization ( 

  • Tell a story.
  • Be brief.
  • Name your belief.
  • Be positive.
  • Be personal.

The rubric will be used to evaluate the submissions.  Some possible ways to get started include:

  • Start with either naming a belief you hold and write from there


  • Start with a story that you think about and then name what that story might indicate about what you believe.

Additional Guidelines

  • Essay Length: maximum of 500 words
  • Formatting: double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman font
  • Personal Information:
  • Cover Page: All entries must have a cover sheet that includes your name, essay title, short reflection statement, student ID, U of L email and phone number.
  • Essay: As judging will be anonymous, do not include your name anywhere in your essay. You will only include your name on the cover page. 
  • Originality: Your submission must be an entirely original piece of writing.
  • Deadline: All entries must be submitted by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, December 4th.

Submission Review & Winner Selection
Submissions will be reviewed by faculty and staff judges using the attached rubric.  One first year student winner will be selected, and given a $350 award.  Up to three first year students will be chosen to receive Honorable Mention, and will each be given a $50 award.  The winner and three Honorable Mention recipients will be notified, and the awards given, in the Spring 2014 semester.  Each award will be processed through the Financial Aid Office per University of Louisville policy.

Additional Information

If you have any questions, please contact First Year Initiatives at or 852-3125.

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