Competitions for High School Students

High School Competitions – these diverse events, ranging from academic Olympiads to robotics challenges, artistic exhibitions to laboratory research, can provide students with invaluable skills and experiences to shape their future endeavors.

 As students navigate the maze of GPA requirements, extracurricular activities, and personal statements that coalesce to form their college applications, one avenue stands out as a beacon of opportunity: high school competitions. We have curated a list of notable high school competitions in writing & art, STEM, business/entrepreneurship, and general academic categories. As you explore the abundance of opportunities available, reach out to a PREMINENTE counselor to guide you through your options and prepare you for your next competition.


Writing & Art Competitions

The New York Times  

  • New! Where We Are: Photo Essays About Community
    “Inspired by the immersive New York Times series Where We Are, which focuses on young people and the spaces where they create community, students are invited to work alone or with others to make photo essays about the communities that interest them. You can document any kind of offline community you like and feature people of any age. Then tell us about it by sending five to seven images with captions and a short introduction.”
    When: February 14 – March 13, 2024
  • Updated! Playing With Words: Our Vocabulary Video Contest
    “Produce a 15-second video about the meaning of one of our Words of the Day. Here are last year’s rules and guidelines, which will stay the same except for one detail: You can work only with words published in our W.O.T.D. column after June 1, 2023. For inspiration, take a look at the work of past winners.”
    When: February 28 – March 27, 2024
  • Updated! Open Letters: Our New Opinion Writing Contest
    “Our Student Editorial Contest ran for a decade, and we received truly extraordinary work, but it’s time for a refresh. This year, we’re asking you to draw on the same skills and passions to make your case, but this time in the form of an open letter.”
    When: March 13 – April 17, 2024
  • Audio Stories: Our Podcast Contest
    “Make an original podcast of five minutes or less that informs or entertains listeners. Here are last year’s rules and guidelines, which will stay largely the same. For inspiration, listen to the work of past winners and visit the related writing unit.” 
    When: April 17 – May 17, 2024
  • Updated! Voice and Choice: Our Summer Reading Contest
    “As we have for 14 years now, we’ll be asking you to tell us what got your attention in The Times and why. But this year, each week we’ll invite you to tell us in a different way. What will that look like? Every Friday for 10 weeks, we’ll post a new invitation, like this one — except that some weeks, we’ll ask for written responses, while other weeks, we’ll ask for video, audio or visual reactions of some kind. We’ll publish more details in the spring, but the essence of the contest will stay the same, as will most of the rules and guidelines.”
    When: June 7 – August 16, 2024

Annual DNA Essay Contest
“ASHG is proud to support National DNA Day through the Annual DNA Day Essay Contest. DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953. This contest is open to students in grades 9-12 worldwide and asks students to examine, question, and reflect on important concepts in genetics. Essays are expected to be well-reasoned arguments that indicate a deep understanding of scientific concepts related to the essay question. They are evaluated by ASHG members through three rounds of scoring.”
When: Early January – Early March, 2024

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
“Scholastic celebrates creative teens regionally and nationally with awards, exhibitions, publications, and scholarships.  All entries are first considered regionally for Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, American Voices Nominee, and American Visions Nominee awards. These are presented to students along with celebration ceremonies and exhibitions in each region. Gold Key-awarded entries are automatically considered for national awards, including Gold Medal, Silver Medal, and scholarship awards.”
Selections of student work are highlighted in the annual art catalog and writing anthology publications, and a list of all National Medalists is included in the Yearbook.
National Medalists are eligible for scholarships of up to $12,500.
When: The Scholastic Awards open for entries in September and deadlines vary between December and January, depending on your region. Curious about your region’s deadline? find your region

Congressional Art Competition
“Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.”
When: Contact your representative to confirm your district’s participation and obtain specific guidance. 

Other competitions to look for next year:
Rivers of Words Poetry and Art


STEM Competitions

Robotics Competition: BEST Robotics Competition
“The Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) Robotics Competition is an annual robotics competition for middle and high school students in the United States. It is organized by BEST, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and inspire students to pursue careers in these fields. The competition challenges teams of students to design, build, and test robots to perform specific tasks, such as moving objects or navigating through an obstacle course. The teams are judged on the performance of their robots, as well as their engineering design process and presentation skills.”
When: Set to begin in fall 2024. Check the website for updates on deadlines.

Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)
“Taking place every May, ISEF stands as the world’s largest pre-college science competition, attracting top student researchers from across the globe. Every year, a large number of students participate in science fairs worldwide, but only approximately 1,800 of the best and brightest earn the honor of competing.”
This competition is open to all high school students who have not reached the age of 20 on or before May 1 preceding ISEF. Special Awards such as tuition scholarships, summer internships, scientific trips, and cash prizes of up to $75,000 are awarded to winners. This is an in-person event in Los Angeles, CA including an on-site registration fee of $25 for each participant. The application deadline varies from state to state. See the website to find information for your state and the specific timeline for participating in this prestigious competition.
When: May 11–17, 2024

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
“Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” Under strict rules, limited time and resources, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. Each season ends with an exciting FIRST Championship.”
All high school students can participate after having cleared their respective regional, local, and national rounds. Registration fees vary from round to round. Fees for the FIRST Championship round amount to $5,750. Scholarships and grants are available. Many prestigious awards are offered throughout the multiple rounds, details of which are available here. The final championship will take place at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.
When: The application deadline is April 5, 2024; the competition is April 17-20, 2024.

Other competitions to look for next year:
American Math Competitions
Chemistry: U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO)
International Bridge Building Competition
Davidson Fellows
MIT THINK Scholars Program
Physics: Physics Bowl


Business/Entrepreneurship Competitions

“DECA’s competitive events can be grouped into three broad categories— role-plays and case studies, prepared events and online simulations. Within each category and type of event, DECA offers a variety of options in each of the four career clusters — marketing, finance, hospitality, and management — as well as entrepreneurship and personal financial literacy.”
When: For competitors in written events, the submission window will open at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Written entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. of your respective time zone on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. DECA advisors must also log in to verify submissions prior to the deadline.

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
“FBLA competitive events recognize and reward excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas. They also prepare students for successful careers in business by providing opportunities to apply classroom concepts in a workforce-simulated competitive environment and receive feedback from business professionals. Click on the link to learn about the multitude of competitions available.”
Dates vary depending on the competition.

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Business Plan Competition
“Every year, learners compete for cash prizes — in program-driven design thinking challenges, innovation challenges, and NFTE business plan and pitch competitions at the local, regional and national level. Through the process of creating their own business idea, NFTE students build entrepreneurial skills and are introduced to new career paths.”
When: May 10 – June 18, 2024. Check here to see when a Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is happening near you.

National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge
“The National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is one of NFTE’s signature events and the most high-stakes business plan and pitch competition of the year.Students begin their journey on the #RoadtoNationals in a local NFTE classroom or camp competition. The best young entrepreneurs from across the country advance through a series of elimination rounds, first at the local and then at the regional and national levels to qualify for nationals.
The National Challenge culminates with the top three national finalists taking the stage in front of a live audience and a panel of VIP judges for the final round of competition.” The competition takes place in New York City.
When: October 10, 2024

Other competitions to look for next year:
KWHS (Knowledge at Wharton High School Global Investment Competition)
Diamond Challenge
Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards


General Academic Competitions

IAC (International Academic Competitions)
“International Academic Competitions organizes team and individual competitions in history, geography, science, the humanities, and other subjects for primary and secondary students of all ages. Their events are held in the United States, Asia, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other areas across the globe.
When: October – November 2024

USAD (United States Academic Decathlon)
“The U.S. Academic Decathlon is a national educational program that promotes learning and academic excellence among high school students of all academic backgrounds. The program consists of ten academic events, including tests in art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science, and social science, as well as speech, interview, and essay components.”
For the 2024 National Competition, there will be four events that will take place online prior to the National Competition dates.
When: The essay, art, literature, and interview will take place online on April 11, 2024.  All teams are required to participate in a practice set-up that will be available from 12:30 pm CDT on April 3, 2024 through 5:00 pm CDT on April 10, 2024.
The speech event and remaining objective tests (economics, music, social science, mathematics and science) will take place April 25-26, 2024 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. See the official schedule for further details.


High school competitions present students with a variety of opportunities for growth, from enhancing their resume to refining crucial skills, these competitions offer a multifaceted approach to personal and professional development.

Reach out to a PREMINENTE counselor today to see how these extracurricular pursuits can serve as catalysts for your success.

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