Submittable is a site that lets you easily search for tons of contests, literary journals, magazines, and more that are accepting content submissions.
There's a lot here, but you can easily enter search filters to look only for essay contests, or photography, or contests that don't require application fees (we recommend filtering those out), or contests with certain deadlines.
Control your own destiny by finding places—on your own—that you can submit your work to! Any acceptances you get always look great on college applications and beyond, and with each entry you can feel more confident about the next one. (And remember, rejections are a fact of life, so don't worry about them at all. If you really want to start getting published, then keep creating, keep submitting, your work will continue to improve, and eventually you'll get an email that begins, "Congratulations!")
All New York Times contests
The NYT constantly has ongoing contests for students. Many of these involve writing, but some involve artistic or video creations as well.
The NPR Student Podcast Challenge
You can create your podcast entry in any class or extracurricular group, on any topic. If it helps, here are some suggestions:
- Tell us a story about your school or community: about something that happened there — recently or in the past — that your audience should know about.
- What is a moment in history that all students should learn about?
- Show us both sides of a debate about an issue that's important to you.
- What do you want to change about the world? What's a big change that you want to make in the future?
- Explain something to us that kids understand and grown-ups don't.