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Undergraduate Writing Symposium: First-Year Writing Submissions and Self-Nominations

The Undergraduate Writing Symposium provides an opportunity for Vanderbilt to celebrate the achievements of its undergraduate students.

Call for First-Year Writing Self-Nominations and Submissions: Spring 2021

In Spring 2021, the Undergraduate Writing Symposium will be held virtually over Zoom and as two separate events.

All current first-year students are encouraged to submit up to two pieces of writing to be considered for inclusion in one of our two symposium events.

First-Year Essay Submissions

First-year authors’ academic essay submissions will be considered for the Undergraduate Writing Symposium: Academic Writing Showcase on Thursday, April 15, which will shine twin spotlights on the exceptional work of first-year authors as well as the research writing of more advanced undergraduate authors.

To nominate your academic essays or to submit a piece nominated by an instructor, please first consultant the First-Year Submission Guidelines below and then fill out the First-Year Academic Writing Submission Form.

First-Year Creative Writing Submissions

First-year authors’ creative writing submissions will be considered for the Undergraduate Writing Symposium: Creative Writing Showcase being held Friday, April 9.

To nominate your creative writing or submit a piece nominated by an instructor, please use the form linked from our Creative Writing Submissions and Self-Nominations page.

First-Year Submission Guidelines


First-year writing completed during the Fall 2020 semester is welcome to compete for inclusion in the event. Note: Creative pieces written by first-year students should be submitted under the Creative Writing category.

The Submission / Self-Nomination Process

Please be aware that our submission / self-nomination process will ask for two short pieces of writing to accompany the piece of writing to be considered:

  1. A brief description of the writing project to be used in the online symposium program
  2. A short reflection on their piece itself and the ways in which they see the piece and the process of writing it as a meaningful writing and learning experience.

Simultaneous Consideration for Inclusion in a Digital Collection of First-Year Writing

This year, all first-year submissions being considered for inclusion the symposium event will also once again be competing for inclusion in Scaffold: A Showcase of Vanderbilt First-Year Writing a digital collection begun in Spring 2019 as an extension of the symposium.

Following our review process, the authors of the highest scoring submissions will be invited to prepare their pieces for digital publication and to submit a short video or audio reflection on the writing of the piece and what they learned. (Guidelines will be provided to finalists.) All pieces included in the digital showcase will also be eligible for prizes in several categories, which will be announced during an awards ceremony at the symposium’s conclusion.

Word Limit

Please note that there is a 3,500 word limit for first-year papers submitted for consideration. Pieces longer than 3,500 words will not be considered for inclusion in the Symposium. If selected for presentation, papers will be need to be edited to 7-8 pages of text or 15 minutes of presentation time. (For multimodal works selected, we will work with students to decide the best way to display or share each piece.)


Submission files should be Word Documents (.docx preferred). Please include your name in the file name, while removing all identifying marks (name, class, professor, etc) from the document and the header.

Digital Compositions Welcome

The submission form includes instructions for submitting writing project with multimedia components. (If removing identifiers from such projects proves difficult or impossible, we understand and will adapt our review process accordingly.)

Two Entries per Student Maximum

Each student may submit up to two of their own projects (across all UWS submission categories), which includes both faculty-nominated and self-nominated pieces.

To nominate your writing or to submit a piece nominated by an instructor, please fill out the First-Year Writing Submission Form.

Critical Deadlines and Dates (Spring 2021)

  • Friday, January 29: Deadline for Faculty Nominations
  • Friday, February 5: Deadline for Submissions (applies to faculty- and self-nominated works)
  • Friday, April 9: Creative Writing Showcase*
  • Thursday, April 15: First-Year and Senior Research Showcase*

(*Please note that you must be available to present in person in order to participate.)

Questions or technical issues?

Please contact Beth Estes, Academic Support Coordinator.