Rock Valley College

Paul Simon Student Essay Contest

Has Rock Valley College made a difference in your life?


If so, consider entering the 2020 Paul Simon Student Essay Contest!

Statewide Sponsor:  ICCTA (Illinois Community College Trustees Association)

Local Sponsor: RVC Department of Composition and Literature

For more information, contact Professor Kerri Shaw:  (815) 921-3309, office located in CLI 2139

Contest Rules

This contest, an annual event, is open to all currently enrolled Rock Valley College students.

 To qualify, each essay must be brief (fewer than 500 words), must be typed, and must address the contest theme: “How My Community College Has Changed My Life.”   You do not have to use this theme as the title of your essay, but you may do so.  Otherwise, create your own, original title related to this theme.

Essays will be judged for writing style, clarity of expression, and topic relevance, with special emphasis on correct grammar and punctuation.

Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification of the essay.


  1. A total of $650 in monetary awards will be distributed.  The amount of money each winner receives will be determined by placement in Rock Valley College’s campus-wide contest.   Winners also will receive certificates at the annual Writing Awards Ceremony.  These RVC awards, along with the ceremony, are sponsored by the Dept. of Composition and Literature.   
  2. The first place winning essay from RVC's campus-wide contest will be entered into a statewide contest involving entries from community colleges across Illinois.  This contest will be judged by a panel of ICCTA members and will result in a single Illinois winner.
  3. The winner selected in the statewide competition will receive a $500 cash stipend for educational expenses during fall 2020 and an invitation to attend a June awards banquet.


Entries should be submitted electronically to by no later than 6 p.m. on Friday, February 28, 2020. 

Your email should refer to the Paul Simon Essay Contest in its subject line and your entry should be attached as either a .docx or .pdf file.  To assist with the judging, entrants are asked NOT to include their name or any personal information on the essay itself. Instead, you should print only your Rock Valley College Student ID number on the essay itself, and include a separate cover page with the following contact information:

  • Essay title
  • Student’s full name & Rock Valley College ID number
  • Telephone number(s)
  • Email address & full home address

Entries submitted to the contest may be used for publicity purposes by the College or the RVC Foundation.