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Prestigious Competitions for High School Students

When applying to highly selective colleges, the Honors and Activities sections of your application will be carefully reviewed by the admissions committee. Many top students have a great quantity of extracurricular activities, but the quality varies significantly. The same applies when dealing specifically with academic competitions and contests. Winning third place in a local science fair is a nice accomplishment but being one of the top scoring students on your Physics Bowl team that placed third in your region is truly extraordinary.

How do I know if a competition will really help my admissions prospects?
  • It is a nationally or internationally recognized competition
  • It has high school chapters all around the region/country/world
  • It is run/sponsored by a legitimate for-profit industry giant (Google, Regeneron, or Intel)
  • It is affiliated with a college or university (MIT Inspire)
  • It is run by a non-profit group (The Council for Economic Education, Future Business Leaders of America, or DECA)
The Top Competitions and Contests

Contests that are held in particularly high regard by admissions committees include: the United States Academic Decathlon, Chemistry Olympiad, and National Mock Trial. For a complete list of competitions and contests that boost your college admission prospects, please click here.


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Attending Notre Dame University
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Attending Yale University
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