Educator Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a This I Believe essay?
A: A This I Believe essay is a personal essay that explores the foundations of our core values—the principles that guide our lives. We encourage teenagers and young adults especially to participate in this critical thinking exercise at a time when they are becoming aware of and shaping their personal identities.

Writing a This I Believe essay satisfies curricular requirements for writing a personal essay, with the added benefit of allowing students the luxury of exploring their core beliefs and the things that have shaped who they are. Many students have stated that this was their favorite assignment of the semester or school year.

Q: How can I get started?
A: We recommend starting by having students read and listen to other This I Believe essays in order to explore the core beliefs of others. This can help students see the value of considering other people’s beliefs, whether they agree with the writers, or, perhaps more important, when they do not.

After exploring other This I Believe essays, we then recommend using our essay-writing guidelines as a tool to get started. Rather than having students start with a belief statement, ask them to tell a story. Their story should be something compelling that has stuck with them, perhaps one in which they learned a lesson or had an “aha” moment, where they learned an important insight about life. After writing the essay, they can then reflect on what the core value is at the heart of the story.

If you are interested in detailed lesson plans, we have several curricula for sale in our online store. (Your purchase helps support the continuation of this website.)

Q: How long should my students’ essays be?
A: A This I Believe essay should be approximately 500 to 600 words, or about three minutes when read aloud at a natural speaking pace. This is the guideline used by the original This I Believe radio series in the 1950s, and we have abided by their suggestion.

Q: How can I submit my students’ essays to this project?
A: Unfortunately, due to budgetary restraints, we are no longer accepting essays. Our hope is that your students will continue to write and share This I Believe essays with each other—in the classroom, on campus, and in your community.

Q: My students submitted essays to this website, but I can’t find them. Can you help?
A: We currently have a backlog of essays to be reviewed and posted to our website. We encourage you to contact us with a list of students whose essays you are looking for, and we will get back to you with the status of your students’ essays. We apologize for the delay in reviewing and posting essays.

Q: May I make copies of essays to use in my classroom?
A: This I Believe, Inc., generally grants permission for copies to be used in classrooms as long as the text is being used in a single classroom and a fee is not being charged for the materials. Please know that all essays on this website, as well as other materials, are protected by copyright laws. If you wish to make copies of essays beyond individual classroom use, please feel free to contact our Permissions Director with details of your request.

Q: How may I contact someone at This I Believe?
A: Our staff is available to assist you with specific questions about utilizing This I Believe in your classroom. Please write us via our Contact Us page.

Q: How can I purchase a product in your store using a purchase order?
A: You can mail it to us at: This I Believe, Inc., PO Box 5625, Louisville, KY 40255. If you need to refer to our federal tax ID number, it is 68-0597809.