Student Writing Contest Information

Download the complete contest guidelines and entry form


Each year, the winning entries of our writing and cover art competitions are featured within the fall issue of Tribal College Journal. The TCJ Student Edition provides the students with incentives, exposure, and material for their resumes. Student support services administrators use it for recruitment and for encouraging students. Students who read it can see that other tribal college students have shared some of their experiences.

We encourage students to submit their best work (proofread and edited) for consideration. We prefer that instructors submit their students’ work, so we can have a contact name and email.


Each year, we seek artwork to use on the cover of the Tribal College Student. The art contest deadline is April 13, 2013 to allow time for students in the AIHEC Student Conference Art Contest to be considered. To be considered for the Tribal College Student cover, send high resolution images of your artwork. The image itself can be the artform (painting, drawing, or photograph), or it can be a photograph of a three-dimensional object, such as a sculpture. High resolution means we must have a jpeg attachment that is 300 ppi or more at the size to be used (8.5 x 11 inches). It should be a vertical image for a 8.5 x 11 inch page size.


The 2012 winning entries are posted online, and the top 3 winners per category were published in the Fall 2012 issue of Tribal College Journal.

Who Can Enter
The contest is open to all tribal college students from AIHEC member schools, Indian or non-Indian.


Awards & Prizes
The top three entries in each writing category, as well as the cover artist, will be awarded prizes and published in the TCJ Student Edition, which is distributed to 18,000 readers. The top seven entries in each writing category will receive a certificate, a free subscription to TCJ, and their work will be posted on the Tribal College Journal website.

Winner Notification/Award
Winners’ certificates/awards will be presented during the AIHEC Student Conference in the spring of 2013.

General Guidelines

  • Entries must be emailed as attachments in either word or RTF (rich text format). Use 12 point Times New Roman font only, double space entries, and include the category in the upper right corner of the first page.
  • The author’s name must NOT appear on the entry itself but rather on a separate cover sheet.
  • Entries should not have been previously published.
  • Maximum Length: 1,000 words (about four double-spaced pages). Entries over 1,000 words will not be considered.
  • Only two entries will be accepted from each student per category. A separate TCJ Official Entry Form must accompany each entry.
  • Entries not conforming to contest rules will be disqualified. We do not accept reports, screen plays, or essays.
  • Entries containing passages in a Native language must be accompanied with an English translation and an appropriate Native language font when necessary.
  • The deadline cannot be extended, and entries received after the deadline will not be considered. Since the winning entries appear within Tribal College Journal, we must adhere to our publishing schedule.

Other Information

The Winners List will be posted on Writing may be edited or restructured by the Tribal College Journal for space, style, or appropriateness.

Judging Criteria

  • Presentation (appropriate format, adherence to contest rules, neatness, spelling, punctuation, grammar).
  • Suitability (correct content for category and appropriate length).
  • Tightness, clarity, structure, strength of lead/beginning, transitions, impact, satisfactory close.

Memoir/Narrative: Text should exhibit compelling logic, have an effective order of ideas, and convey a provocative message. The lead and the closing should develop and reinforce the overall theme.

Fiction: The story should have entertaining and creative characters, meaningful conflict, well-drawn dialogue, effective plot, a strong beginning and ending, and well-developed figurative language and imagery.

Poetry: The poem should explore a fresh and interesting concept, may possess a provocative cadence or rhythmic beat, selectively use a variety of devices (such as figurative language) to appeal to the imagination or engage the reader’s senses. If traditional verse is used, the poem should adhere to form.

Download the complete contest guidelines and entry form