The New York Times Magazine Launches First-Time Essay Competition for College Students

Source: The New York Times Company

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The New York Times Magazine announced today that it will conduct a nationwide essay contest among college students; the deadline for applications is Monday, Aug. 6. Students are asked to read an article posted at by author and historian Rick Perlstein that contrasts college culture today with that of the 1960s and 1970s, and then submit an essay in response. The winning essay, which will be selected by New York Times Magazine editors, will be published in the Sept. 30 college issue of the magazine and posted to and Five finalists’ essays will also be posted on The winner will be featured on mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college network, as well as on

In his article, Mr. Perlstein argues that college campuses today have lost their central role in society, and that “college as America used to understand it is coming to an end.” Unlike campus culture in the 1960s and 1970s, he maintains, college life now is a reflection of the larger society’s competitive, market-driven approach to life, rather than a refuge from it. Mr. Perlstein maintains that “going to college” doesn’t offer the distinct break from a young person’s past that it used to, with all the freedom and creativity that a fresh start implies. Instead, he says, the experience of college has become uninspiring, offering students more of what they’ve grown up with rather than startling them with new ideas and belief systems. Because they are no longer incubators for cultural innovation, he asserts, colleges and universities don’t influence the rest of society as they once did.

“This contest is a departure for the magazine,” said Jim Schachter, deputy editor, The New York Times Magazine. “It’s the first time we’ve posted an article online, weeks in advance of its being published in print, with the express purpose of inviting debate. We’re excited to see how young people respond to this gauntlet we’ve thrown down. Will they effectively counter Rick’s thesis about college and college students? We’ll all have to read and find out.”

The winning essay will appear in the magazine’s Sept. 30 college issue, which will examine the state of undergraduate education and probe the American neurosis about college admissions.

Rick Perlstein is the author of “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus.” He is currently working on a sequel to “Before the Storm” tentatively titled “Nixonland: The Politics and Culture of the American Berserk, 1965 – 1972.” He is now a senior fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, where he writes a blog called The Big Con. He lives in Chicago.

All full- and part-time college students 25 or younger are eligible to enter the essay competition. Students should go to for more information.

About The New York Times Company

The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), a leading media company with 2006 revenues of $3.3 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 15 other daily newspapers, WQXR-FM and more than 30 Web sites, including, and The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.

About mtvU

Broadcast to 750 colleges across the country, with a combined enrollment of over 7.2 million, mtvU is the largest, most comprehensive television network just for college students. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, mtvU can be seen in the dining areas, fitness centers, student lounges and dorm rooms of campuses throughout the U.S. mtvU is dedicated to every aspect of college life, reaching students everywhere they are, through a three-pronged approach – on-air, online and on campus. For more information about mtvU, go to

(C) Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company & Collegiate Presswire. All Rights Reserved.

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