Thirty years ago my students felt a C was average. To earn an A was an accomplishment. Today, when I state to my students that the average on a test was 85% I am thinking it was an easy test. A different reaction is from my students who are worried why the average is so low. What happened to having a few students excel? When everyone is rewarded as if they excelled, it takes away from those that worked hard to be the best in the class.
In judging art and student writing, we put in literally thousands of hours reviewing the entries. Entries are viewed by more than one person and then the ones that we feel are worthy are invited to be published. The final winners come from these entries. When we do not accept an entry, we are not suggesting that it is not art or that is is not a poem or an essay. Not being accepted simply means that our judges thought other entries were more deserving to be published.
In working with student contests, we often have parents and teachers contact us and ask if we accept everyone who sends in an entry. There are some publications that may do that and have as their sole purpose to sell books. That is not who we are. Our goal is to be selective enough that it is an honor to be included. We want the “A” and “B” entries, the best entries, to receive recognition. If everyone is accepted, the accomplishment is diminished.
Sometimes entering a contest is discouraging. You may not be accepted. And then when we see the winners, we don’t always know the history of their success. For every success, that we see, there are often many struggles and failures that we don’t see. We all know the story of JK Rowling, and her many rejections before Harry Potter was accepted. But she kept trying, took the risk of rejection and we all know the result. Never limit your own opportunities. Take the chance and let others make the decision. If you don’t take the risk, you are limiting your success.