What is the purpose of the Undergraduate Writers’ Conference?
The Undergraduate Writers’ Conference provides undergraduates with the unique opportunity to share their writing with their fellow students.  Students are constantly receiving feedback on their writing, but this is almost exclusively from instructors relative to course grading.  The Undergraduate Writer’s Conference gives students a forum to share and discuss their writing with peers.  The Conference Discussion Sessions are often the most rewarding part of entering!

Participants also have the potential to be recognized for outstanding achievement in various areas of writing in each of the main conference categories, as well as in the area of policy reform as sponsored by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. First Prize awards are $1000 and Second Prize awards are $500 in each category.

Entrants may also be considered for prizes in the Levan Institute Ethics Essay Contest which is held in conjunction with the Undergraduate Writers’ Conference each year.


Who is invited to enter the Undergraduate Writers’ Conference?
The Writers’ Conference is open only to USC students who are currently enrolled as undergraduates.  A USC faculty sponsor is also required for all submissions, and all other collaborators of the work (fellow USC undergraduates, graduate students, and/or non-USC collaborators) must be acknowledged.

Is everyone who enters eligible for a prize?
Participation in a Conference Discussion Session is required is to be eligible for a prize.  Exceptions are made for students who have a direct conflict with the Conference schedule such as a Wednesday evening class, overseas studies, or an internship for credit with working hours on Wednesday evenings.  For the most part, you must be present to win.

May I compete in more than one category or make more than one submission?
Yes, you may make more than one submission to the Writers’ Conference.  However, you may not make more than one submission per category and you may not submit the same paper to more than one category.  This means that you may make up to four submissions with four different papers/essays/other work (one in each category).

I have written a paper with other USC undergraduates.  Can I submit a co-authored work to the Writers’ Conference?
Yes, you may submit a paper that was co-written with other students.  We ask that each of the co-authors make a separate submission to the conference.  Please note that if your co-authors are no fellow USC undergraduate students, then you must receive each co-authors permission to submit the work.  Also, if a co-authored paper wins a prize, each the prize amount will be divided equally between the USC undergraduate students affiliated with the work.  Payments are not made to non-USC students or USC students who have graduated at the time of the submission.

I have written a song.  Can I submit music to the Writers’ Conference?
You are welcome to submit song lyrics to the Writers’ Conference under the Creative Work category.  The submission form also allows you to include a URL if you would like to link to a recording of the song.  However, since the conference is centered on writing, song submissions are evaluated based on their lyrics rather than their musicality.

When is the deadline to enter for the Writers’ Conference? 
The deadline to make your submission(s) to the Writers’ Conference is Friday, March 2, 2018. The conference judges must read more than 5,000 pages prior to the event, so the deadline to register for the Writers’ Conference is always a few weeks ahead of the conference itself. The registration form is available online. A confirmation of your registration will be emailed to you once you submit the form.


When and where will the Conference Discussion Sessions take place? 
The Conference Discussion Sessions take place from 6:00-6:50pm on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.  This is immediately preceding the Awards Ceremony and Banquet.  Participants are given an assignment to one of the small discussion groups a few days prior to the event.  The discussions sessions typically take place in many different classrooms on campus, but primarily in the following buildings: VKC, THH, SOS, WPH, and GFS.

What happens in the Conference Discussion Sessions? 
Each Conference Discussion Session has 3-5 students and a session moderator.  Each group members work has been shared with the group prior to the session.  Each group member will have the opportunity introduce themselves and their writing submission and then discuss different elements of writing and comment on each other’s work as group.

Do I have to prepare a presentation for my Conference Discussion Session? 
You are at liberty to design (or not design) the introduction of your work to the group.  It’s a good idea to briefly practice your introduction to make sure you keep it under five minutes, but you do not need to share a prepared presentation with the group in advance.  You can write it out word-for-word, just have a few notes or an outline jotted down, or wing it.  The choice is yours.  However, the discussion is meant to be a conversation, so PowerPoints and other multimedia presentations are not used.

Does my participation in the Conference Discussion Session contribute to the prize decisions? 
Aside from attending the group discussion session to maintain your prize eligibility, no.  Prizes are awarded based on your written submission and not your specific contribution to the group discussion.


When and where will the Awards Ceremony & Banquet take place? 
The Awards Ceremony & Banquet will take place from 7:00-9:00pm on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 in Town & Gown.  This is immediately following the Conference Discussion Sessions.

What happens at the Awards Ceremony & Banquet? 
As Each Conference Discussion Session has 3-5 students and a session moderator.  Each group members work has been shared with the group prior to the session.  Each group member will have the opportunity introduce themselves and their writing submission and then discuss different elements of writing and comment on each other’s work as group.

Can I bring a guest to the Awards Ceremony & Banquet? 
Yes, non-participant guests are welcome.  Please just let us know your guests name and their relationship to you.

Is there a dress code for the Writers’ Conference?
There is no dress code, but we ask that you dress nicely.  If you win an award, you may be taking a photo with the Provost! So leave the flip flops at home.


Who are the judges?
Judges are USC faculty members primarily from the USC Writing Program. Each category has a panel of 2-6 judges. Faculty judges are nominated and serve based upon their expertise in each of the categories of writing.

How many prizes will be awarded?
The judges will award one $1000 First Prize and one $500 Second Prize in each of the four categories, and for the special prizes awarded by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.

Additional prizes may also be awarded from the USC Levan Institute Ethics Essay Contest (prize amounts may vary).

If I win, when will I receive my check?
If you win, congratulations! A check will be sent to your permanent address (unless otherwise requested) by the the summer 2018. If a group wins a prize, each co-author within the group will split the award evenly.

When are prize winners announced?
Prize winners are announced by USC Provost Michael Quick at the Award Ceremony and Banquet beginning 7:00pm at Town & Gown on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.  The winners are also added emailed to all conference participants after the event, and are also added to the Writers’  Conference website.


Who can I contact about the Undergraduate Writers’ Conference if my question is not answered on this page?
To find out more about the Symposium, you may call the Office of Undergraduate Programs at (213) 740-1741 or email us for more information.