Student Awards

ACA Foundation 2017 Graduate Student Essay Competitions

Welcome to the ACA Foundation 2017 Graduate Student Essay Competition information site and online submission form. This program is available to ACA student members and administered by the ACA Foundation. Since its inception, the foundation has been a strong supporter of graduate students in counseling. From scholarship awards for attendance at the ACA Annual Conference and Expo to underwriting the Graduate Student/New Professional Center and special education events at the conference, the ACA Foundation has taken an active role in helping counseling students become more involved in this exciting and demanding profession.

The 2017 ACA Foundation Graduate Student Essay Competitions, including the Future School Counselors Essay Competition (sponsored by the Roland and Dorothy Ross Trust) and the Tomorrow's Counselor Essay Competition will operate according to the following calendar:

  • The online link for submitting essays electronically will go active on October 3, 2016.
  • All essays must be received by January 4, 2017, at 11:59pm EST.
  • Award recipients will be announced on January 27, 2017.
  • Essay competition winners will be recognized at the ACA Conference & Expo in March, 2017

Essay Competitions

Two competitions for counseling graduate students ACA members are being held:

  1. Tomorrow's Counselor Essay Competition - Sponsored by the ACA Foundation
  2. ACA Future School Counselors Essay Competition - Supported by the Roland and Dorothy Ross Trust

Essay Prizes

Grand Prizes:  Each of the above competitions offers a Grand Prize of:

  • $500 Grant
  • Complimentary registration for the ACA 2017 Annual Conference
  • Publication of the essay in Counseling Today

Runners up Awards:  Each competition also provides 5 runners-up awards of:

  • $250 Grant
  • Complimentary registration for the ACA 2017 Annual Conference

Honorable Mention Awards:  Each competition also provides 10 honorable mention awards of:

  • Complimentary registration for the ACA 2017 Annual Conference

Competition Rules

You must be a current ACA student member. (If not currently a member and you wish to join now, please click on the Join/Renew Now! button located above. 

Those submitting essays may enter only one of the two competitions. You must be a currently enrolled student (fall semester/term 2016), taking one or more graduate level courses at an accredited college or university. For the ACA Future School Counselors Essay Competition, you must certify that you are working toward a career as a professional school counselor at the elementary, middle or high school level.

Essays are to be (3,200 characters) 500 words or less in length, addressing the theme below, and you must submit that essay via the online essay submission site (emailed or mailed submissions will not be accepted). You may not enter either competition if you have won a Grand Prize award in a past essay competition. 

The decisions of the judges are final. All entrants, by the act of entering, grant the American Counseling Association and the ACA Foundation the right to publish their essay as part of the post-competition publicity in the ACA’s Counseling Today monthly magazine and on the ACA and ACA Foundation websites. There can be no substitution of prizes and no cash returned on any portion of the unused prizes. Entries must be received no later than January 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm, EST. Entries received after this time will not be considered.

 Required Essay

Student members wishing to participate in either essay competition must address the following theme:

Educating New Federal Leaders about Counseling

A new administration will be moving into place in Washington in January. The 2017 ACA Graduate Student Essay Competitions call upon essayists to advocate for professional counseling in any new and/or expanded federal policies advanced by the incoming administration.

Develop an essay that informs these incoming leaders about the counseling needs of clients across the life span and the manner in which professional counselors respond to those needs. Then identify and build a case for new or expanded federal programs and policies that would strengthen existing counseling services. Essayists submitting for the Ross Trust Future School Counselor Essay Competition should focus their essays on counseling programs in K-12 educational settings.


All entries will be checked to verify ACA membership and to make certain that essay competition rules regarding length, deadlines, etc. have been met. They will then be read by a team of experienced counselors and evaluated with respect to how effectively the essay addresses the subject and offers provocative insights into the profession of counseling and its future. Judges will want to see ideas well explained and supported, but will also be evaluating how effectively the essayist presented his/her view and how interesting that position will be seen by the counseling community and the public at large.

Judging will be completed by late January so that winners can be notified in time to make plans to attend the ACA Annual Conference, March 16-19, 2017 in San Francisco, CA.

Ready to enter? Complete the information requested on the entry form and submit to ACA by January 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm, EST.

Questions? Email them to:


ACA Foundation 2016 Graduate Student Essay Competitions

2016 Graduate Student Essay Competitions Winners Announced!

2016 Corey/Ivey Competition Grand Prize Winning Essay - Kelly King (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

2016 Corey/Ivey Grand Prize Winning Essay - Rachel Mickelsen (University of Texas at San Antonio)

2016 Ross Trust Grand Prize Winning Essay - Robin Lane (University of Texas at Austin)

Join Now

  • Learn more about your specialty—join a division
  • Maximize your Professional Development
  • Stay ahead of the educational learning curve
  • Advocate for the counseling care of tomorrow
  • Expand your networking connections
  • More Member Benefits

Latest News

Morgan Spurlock is Opening Keynote Speaker for ACA's 2014 Conference And Expo

by User Not Found | Sep 05, 2013
Morgan Spurlock is an award-winning writer, director, and producer best known for his immersive explorations of the social issues that both directly and indirectly shape the choices and life paths of our clients, students, colleagues… and ourselves. As a man with his finger on the pulse of a rapidly changing society, Spurlock will share experiences, insights, and reflections from the front lines of American culture.
Morgan Spurlock, Academy Award-Nominated Director of Super Size Me and Documentary Filmmaker
March 27, 2014
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

His first feature length film, Super Size Me, played in more than 100 countries, influenced school lunch programs across the nation, empowered millions to change their own eating habits, and eliminated super size options from the world’s largest fast food chain. The film was also used by senators, congressmen, and lobby groups as a call to action for multiple food and education related causes.

Other accomplishments include: the critically acclaimed FX program, 30 Days, which dealt with such polarizing issues as the minimum wage, prison reform, abortion, and gun control; Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?, which was named “one of the most important films of the year” by the Islamic Society of North America; The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3-D on Ice!; the film adaptation of the best selling book Freakonomics; and POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about branding, advertising, and product placement, which was funded by branding, advertising, and product placement, and made some serious points about the ubiquity of branding in our daily lives. 

In April 2012, Spurlock’s released the documentary, Comic-Con Episode IV – A Fan's Hope, which follows a group of attendees around the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con. A month later, his doc Mansome hit theaters, which features an all-star cast of commentators including Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Zach Galifianakis who hilariously opine on the grooming habits of the 21st century man.

In 2013, Spurlock returned to TV as host and producer of the CNN original series, Inside Man. Each week Spurlock provides an insider’s view into rarely-seen sectors of American life that include gun lovers, marijuana growers, migrant farm workers, and end-of-life caregivers.