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10 Awards for High School Students

Participating in competitions and programs while in high school, and receiving recognition for your efforts demonstrates commendable skill and talent. High school is the perfect time to put your abilities to the test by participating in various competitions and challenges.

Acing these competitions and receiving awards for your work highlights your potential and capabilities to college admissions officers, apart from giving you a chance to hone your skills and build your knowledge base in a field of your choice. 


On that note, we’ve put together 10 prestigious awards that high schoolers are eligible to compete for. From excelling at academics to leadership skills, humanities, STEM fields, and community engagement, these awards can spotlight students’ diverse talents and contributions.


The Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) is one of the oldest and most esteemed science and math competitions for high school seniors in the US. It offers a platform for students to present their original research, while showcasing their expertise in STEM fields. The selection process includes various components — test scores, recommendations, and essay questions — to evaluate students’ overall scientific and academic aptitude. Annually, around 1,900 students participate in STS. We’ve covered everything you need to know about Regeneron STS here!


Note: Also consider Regeneron ISEF, an international science fair open to all high school students.


Award: The initial 300 scholars selected receive a $2,000 award. Of these, 40 finalists are awarded a minimum of $25,000 each. The top 10 finalists receive prizes ranging from $40,000 for tenth place to $250,000 for first place.

Key Details: Every year, from about 2,000 entries, 300 scholars are chosen, with 40 finalists invited to Washington, D.C., for top prizes. Each submission is evaluated by three or more doctoral scientists across four areas: Research Report and Scientific Merit, Student Contribution, Academic Achievement, and Future Leadership Potential. 

Eligibility:

  • US residents in their final year of secondary school, and US citizens living abroad, are eligible to apply. Non-US citizens attending American schools abroad are not eligible. 

  • Only independent, individual research is accepted, requiring completed investigations and results.

While most students who meet these criteria are eligible to apply, further details on eligibility can be found here.

Dates: Applications for the 2024 cycle are now closed. Applications for the 2025 cycle are expected to open in June 2024. 

Location: 40 student finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C. to participate in final judging.


Every autumn, the AP Program acknowledges high school students for their exceptional performance in college-level coursework through a range of AP Scholar Awards. These distinctions encompass various levels and criteria. These awards signify the dedication and excellence of students engaged in rigorous academic pursuits at the high school level.


Award: Certification. 

Key Details

  • AP Scholar Award: scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP Exams. 

  • AP Scholar with Honor: average score of at least 3.25 across all AP Exams taken, with scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams. 

  • AP Scholar with Distinction: average score of at least 3.5 across all AP Exams taken, alongside scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams.

Qualifications:

  • To qualify for an award, high school students must meet all specified criteria. For instance, a 3.25 average score but fewer than the required number of 3 or higher scores won't qualify for a higher-tier award.

  • Exams taken multiple times count only once; the highest score is considered for award calculation.

  • Certain subscores (like AP Calculus AB subscore for AP Calculus BC Exam and aural/nonaural subscores for AP Music Theory Exam) are excluded from the award calculations.

Dates: Students are notified via email during late summer/early fall. 

Location: Throughout the U.S. and outside the U.S. for the AP International Diploma.


The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes  is a unique award that recognizes young individuals aged 8 - 18 who blend community service with STEM or humanities. This prestigious program celebrates students’ extraordinary achievements and contributions. It offers a platform for students to showcase their efforts in diverse fields. With only 25 students awarded annually, it’s a highly competitive prize. 


Check out our guide detailing the Gloria Barron Prize, its origins, its application process, and the recognition and support it provides.


Award: Winners receive $10,000 towards their higher education or service project.

Key Details: Participants must have spearheaded a remarkable service activity that significantly benefited others or the planet. Their initiative should have been self-motivated and led by the participants themselves. The service activity cannot have been undertaken solely to fulfill a school or work requirement.

Eligibility:

  • To be eligible to apply, you must be between aged 8 - 18. 

  • You must be permanent residents of and currently residing in either the United States or Canada.

  • You should be working on a service project (or should have done so within the last 12 months). 

  • This service project must be done individually — the Barron Prize does not accept applications from groups.

Dates

  • Applications open on January 3, 2024.

  • Applications close on April 15, 2024.

  • Winners will be announced mid-September 2024.

Location: U.S. and Canada-based students are eligible.


The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, a well-renowned competition for middle and high school students in the United States, celebrates creativity across diverse fields like visual art, film, poetry, journalism, and more. With 28 categories, including painting, sculpture, photography, and personal memoirs, it’s the longest-running and one of the most prestigious regional and national art competitions. Winning an award in any of the categories will be a valuable addition to your resume, highlighting your skill and dedication. Take a look at this deep dive into these awards! 


Award: Medals. High school seniors who submit a portfolio are eligible for scholarships of up to $12,500. 

Key Details: To participate, you’ll need to set up an account, upload your work, and pay an entry fee of $10 per entry or $30 for a portfolio. Participants first compete at the regional level within their state, earning distinctions like gold key, silver key, or honorable mention. Gold key winners progress to the national level, where being chosen as a national medalist is highly reputable.

Eligibility

  • Students in grades 7-12 can apply. 

  • 12th graders can choose to submit a portfolio.

Dates: Entries are typically accepted between September -  December. This timeline will vary for your region: you can check your region’s specific deadline here.

Location: U.S. and Canada


Established in 1979 by the United States Congress, the Congressional Award acknowledges youth initiative, service, and achievement. It empowers young Americans aged 14 -24 to achieve personal goals in volunteerism, character, and fitness. It’s a non-partisan, voluntary program open to all, regardless of background. Awardees receive bronze, silver, and gold certificates and medals across the four areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. It’s self-paced, with no GPA requirements, accommodating diverse abilities. 


Award: Bronze, silver, and gold certificates and medals across the four categories.

Key Details: Registering for the award requires a one-time fee of $25. To get started, sign up and check the Program Book guidelines. Once your Advisor approves your goals, you’re set to begin pursuing them. Results are tallied with the work shown throughout the year.

Qualifications:

  • Participants aged 131/2 - 24 are eligible. 

  • Participants are eligible to submit completed record book applications when they reach the age of 14 years old.

Dates: Students may apply throughout the year.

Location: U.S.


The Bennington Young Writers Awards beckons all high schoolers, serving as a prestigious writing competition in America. Open to 9th to 12th-grade students, it aims to encourage and honor young writing talent. Three categories — poetry, fiction, and nonfiction — yield first, second, and third-place winners each. Winning here is a notable achievement, showcasing your dedication and writing talent, a standout addition to your college application. Learn more about this award in our guide here.


Award: First-place winners in each category receive $1,000. The second place gets $500, and the third place earns $250. Additionally, finalists receive a $10,000/year scholarship for four years, while winners get a $15,000/year scholarship for four years at Bennington College.

Key Details: Participation is free for all high school students. It’s crucial to have a high school teacher approve and sponsor your work before submission; this teacher will serve as the primary contact for any competition queries. 

Qualifications:

  • Open to all students in the 9th to 12th grades.

  • Open to U.S. students and international students.

Dates: The competition runs annually from September 1 to November 1.

Location: U.S.


The Brower Youth Awards, presented by the Earth Island Institute, is a pivotal event celebrating exceptional young leaders in the environmental movement. Recognizing 147 emerging leaders, six individuals from North America annually receive a $3,000 cash prize. Preceding the ceremony, a week-long forum offers mentorship, training, and networking to bolster skills for effecting change. The program prioritizes diverse voices, empowering innovators from various backgrounds. This annual recognition creates a network of influential youth leaders known for their sustainable projects and commitment to positive global change.


Award: 6 winners will receive a $3,000 cash prize, a short film produced about their work, and flight and lodging accommodations for a weeklong mentoring trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Key Details: Applicants are evaluated across 4 key criteria: leadership, innovation, impact, and personal commitment. 

Qualifications:

  • Students ages 13 — 22 living in North America (including Mexico, Canada, and some Caribbean Islands) and U.S. territories are encouraged to apply.

Dates: To be announced

Location: U.S.


Established in 1925, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA), unites student journalists and faculty advisors nationwide. Operated by Columbia University, CSPA fosters a platform for idea exchange, mutual support, and collaborative learning among scholastic journalism enthusiasts. With numerous subcategories, the CSPA awards honor excellence in diverse areas of journalism. CSPA celebrates excellence in student publications through two major award programs: the Crown Awards and the Gold Circle Awards. 

  • Crown Awards recognize overall excellence in print or digital publications, categorized into News and Yearbooks. These categories encompass various formats like Print, Digital, Hybrid, and Magazines.

  • Gold Circle Awards acknowledge individual student achievements within CSPA member publications, spanning News, Magazine, Digital Media, and Yearbook categories. 

Award: Certification

Key Details: Entries require separate submission by specific deadlines, with certificates awarded for First, Second, and Third Place, along with Certificates of Merit for Honorable Mention. 

Qualifications:

  • Open to high school students throughout the U.S.

Dates: To be announced

Location: U.S.


The DECA Emerging Leader Honor Award applauds students in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. It highlights their academic readiness, community engagement, professional responsibility, and strong leadership, all fostered through active roles in DECA. The Emerging Leader Award encompasses a comprehensive set of criteria that truly encapsulates multifaceted leadership across three domains: being community-oriented, being an experienced leader, and having professional responsibility.


Award: Certification

Key Details: The award’s Community Oriented section seeks diverse engagement in community and school projects, and social and business activities. Experienced Leader focuses on DECA offices, leadership conferences, and roles in other organizations. The Professionally Responsible aspect includes career exploration, recruitment, competitive events, and active DECA chapter involvement, promoting holistic professional development and responsible engagement.

Qualifications:

  • Current membership in DECA with senior status.

  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2 over seven semesters (where 4.0 equals an “A”).

  • Complete at least one course in marketing, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, or hospitality and tourism.

  • Engage in at least three categories within Community Oriented, Professionally Responsible, and Experienced Leader areas. More details here.

Dates: Award Nominations will open from February 1 — March 31, 2024.

Location: U.S.


The National Speech & Debate Association’s Honor Society acknowledges middle and high school students and coaches engaged in speech and debate activities. Participation earns students merit points, recognized by college admissions offices due to the society’s esteemed reputation. Members adhere to the Code of Honor, emphasizing humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service. In its 90-year history, nearly two million alumni have been celebrated for their honorable achievements and actions.


Award: Seal of honor

Key Details: Advisors or coaches with designated permissions enter points for students through their NSDA Account. Students can accumulate a maximum of 75 points before achieving membership. Student members accumulate merit points by engaging in various activities such as competitions, service, and leadership roles. Whether it’s debating, volunteering, public speaking, or performing on stage, students apply their speech and debate skills in daily endeavors. Members accumulate points that correspond to different Honor Society degrees, marking progress and offering distinction, motivating their journey. 

Qualifications: 

  • Open to middle and high school students

Dates: 

  • Students and coaches can apply throughout the year.

Location: U.S.



Lumiere Research Scholar Program

Discover the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, an exclusive online high school initiative co-founded with researchers from Harvard and Oxford. Tailored for passionate individuals interested in advanced research across major high school subjects, this program offers a university-level research experience. With only 500 spots available and over 4000 applicants last year, it’s a highly competitive opportunity. Here’s the application form!


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1–1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: Scholastic Art and Writing Awards logo


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