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Participating in Hack3 as a High Schooler? Here are 8 Pros and Cons You Should Consider

One of the best ways to build your skills as a young coder in high school is by participating in hackathons and other hacking events.These competitions are a great opportunity to showcase your passion for coding and problem-solving, while putting these skills to the test against equally skilled competitors. Hackathons like Hack3, the subject of today’s blog, are a practical way to apply what you learn in class, stand out to college admissions officers, and potentially win thousands of dollars in prizes. Read on to understand what Hack3 is all about, how to apply, and whether or not you should participate.


What is Hack3?

Hack3 is a 24-hour annual coding competition for high school students worldwide. It started in 2020 with the goal of encouraging young coders to solve real-world problems using technology. Over the course of the event, as well as an optional week-long hackathons class, you’ll get to showcase your coding skills, learn new ones, and network with peers and industry professionals. The hackathon is a great opportunity to obtain mentorship, gain access to a wealth of programming resources and lessons, and of course a chance to win prizes.


Is Hack3 Prestigious?

Hack3 2021 brought over 335 students from across the world to compete, mentored and judged by more than 30 professionals. The depth of learning on offer was further boosted by more than 10 workshops dedicated to both technical subjects as well as soft skills, from blockchain and machine learning to learning how to present. Since Hack3 is free to enter, you’re sure to encounter a wide variety of folks across the world, learning from their unique viewpoints and testing your skills against them. The competition is sponsored by some big names like GitHub, Amazon, Slack, MathWorks, and more. All of these factors make Hack3 a prestigious event to attend, doubly so if you manage to win and stand out amongst hundreds of participants.


Who is eligible to apply?

Hack3 is designed to be an accessible and open event, and the eligibility criteria reflect that. All you need to be eligible is:

  • You must be a high school student or equivalent (ages 13-18).

  • Have a basic understanding of coding, though no prior coding or hacking experience is needed.

  • You can register as an individual or in a team of up to four members, and Hack3 will help you formulate a team if you don’t have your own.


How is Hack3 structured?

Hack3 initially kicks off with 5 days of 1-hour long workshops under their umbrella of “Free Intro to Hackathons”. As the name implies, these workshops are optional and meant for participants who are new to coding and hackathons. You’ll learn about topics like Python, API integration, database integration, and an overview of Hack3 itself. In 2022, these workshops took place from 20th to 24 June, from 8-9 pm.


The main event kicks off on the weekend immediately following the intro workshops. On Saturday 1 pm you and your team can officially start coding on a theme of your choice! Past winning entries have included such diverse offerings as a deep learning app to skip sponsored ad segments on YouTube, a mental health app designed to respect your boundaries, or even a Discord bot designed to track cryptocurrencies! Your project can be a phone app, hardware, web app, or desktop app, as long as you’re using technology in some capacity. You’re also free to use publicly available code, as long as you’re also adding value and originality to it.


Your submission is due by 1 pm on Sunday, but till that time there are also plenty of workshops that are hosted by the Hack3 team and free to attend for anyone. From VPN server hosting to the basics of cloud computing and website design, there’s plenty of learning to be had. After the submission deadline, you’ll be allocated 5 minutes to present your project to the judges, consisting of 3 minutes of presentation and demo and 2 minutes of Q&A. Each project is judged on creativity, technical excellence and theme relevance.


Pros and cons of participating

Pros:

  1. Great opportunity to develop coding skills: Hack3 is a crash course in practical coding and project management. The hands-on experience in developing a project from scratch helps you improve your technical skills significantly.

  2. A solid networking opportunity: The Slack channels, workshops, and keynote will help you connect with peers and industry experts. Interacting with mentors, judges, and fellow participants can open doors to future collaborations and job opportunities.

  3. A strong boost to your college applications: Participation in Hack3 can significantly enhance your college application by showcasing both your commitment and your skills, while also giving you the coding experience necessary to truly stand out.

  4. There is no cost to participate: You can enroll for Hack3 without any registration fees. The competition is free to enter, making it accessible regardless of your financial situation.

Cons:

  1. Extremely time sensitive: The challenge takes place over a mere 24 hours, which means that you’ll need to put in an enormous amount of effort in a very tight time frame. This can be very challenging if you’re not used to it.

  2. It’s highly competitive: Competing against talented peers worldwide can be tough. The level of competition is high, and you’ll be up against some of the best young coders globally, which can be intimidating.

  3. No in-person exposure: While the purely virtual nature of the challenge is beneficial to allow more participation, unfortunately it also means that you won’t get to interact with peers and mentors in a live setting.

  4. Team coordination can be difficult: Working effectively with a team can be difficult, especially remotely. Coordinating with team members who may be in different locations and time zones adds an extra layer of complexity.

Our review

Hack3 is a solid opportunity for high school students interested in coding and technology. The competition is prestigious, offering valuable experience and networking opportunities. It's ideal if you’re looking for an intense, challenging opportunity to learn to code and be rewarded for it. However, it is quite competitive and requires strong teamwork. If you're passionate about coding and up for the challenge, Hack3 is definitely worth considering. You stand to learn a lot and gain a competitive edge in your future academic and career endeavors.

If you’re looking to build a project/research paper in the field of AI & ML, consider applying to Veritas AI! 


Veritas AI is founded by Harvard graduate students. Through the programs, you get a chance to work 1-1 with mentors from universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and more to create unique, personalized projects. In the past year, we had over 1000 students learn AI & ML with us. You can apply here!



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing independent research, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD 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: Hack3 logo

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