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One of the best ways to make your high school resume stand out is to participate in and/or win a student competition. It’s no secret that contests, competitions, and awards programs look great to college admissions officials. However, competitions for high school students can also bring all sorts of other benefits, including scholarships, trophies, recognition, and even cash prizes. For this reason, it’s important to consider entering a few student competitions as you go through high school.
There are all sorts of competitions for high school students out there to explore. There are contests in art, writing, design, business, STEM, and more. We’ve collected just a few of our favorites here, but, with all of those options, there’s sure to be a student competition out there that matches your skills and interests.
Be sure and pay attention to the criteria and eligibility requirements of each student competition listed below. Many of them have deadlines that either vary by region or are quickly approaching. Some may have even already passed. However, most of the competitions for high school students that are listed here are annual contests, so we encourage you to bookmark this page and check back in on the contents that interest you as they release new dates and requirements.
Start exploring the world of student competitions with the options below — and best of luck!
Arts Competitions for High School Students
The following competitions are intended for students with a passion for the arts. This can include painting, drawing, theater or any other type of artistic expression. For more resources dedicated to exploring your career in the arts, check out the 2022 Guide to Your Future in Arts, released earlier this year by TeenLife.
Congressional Art Competition
This annual competition celebrates the artistic achievements of the nation’s high school students. Each Member of Congress may choose to host the program in their individual districts. Many offices ask a panel of local artists, such as artists-in-residence, art teachers, gallery owners, to act as judges. The winning artwork will hang in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for one year.
Cool Science Art Competition on Extreme Weather
Cool Science’s annual art competition is challenging students to express learning about science concepts through the visual arts! Winning artwork is displayed on public transit in Massachusetts, Kansas, and Missouri and at Community Art Exhibition Celebrations! Winners receive a gift card and online resources. Artwork can be submitted by mail or electronically.
Hong Kong Visual Arts Education Festival: International and Local Student Mail Art Competition
To promote Mail Art and to encourage more students from different countries to participate in the International and Local Student Mail Art Exhibition, the Hong Kong Society for Education in Art (HKSEA) has decided to hold a competition for this event. There will be five age groups in which a panel of judges will award outstanding students first prizes, second prizes and third prizes.
LEO Art Challenge
In this challenge, participants will choose one of the many objects or phenomena associated with the LEO (Low Earth Orbit) Environment and create a ‘zine’ using words and artwork. This contest, sponsored by the National Space Society’s SpacEdge program, invites students of all kinds to participate.
National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students
The Academy of American Poets, originator and organizer of National Poetry Month, invites students in grades 9 through 12 to enter artwork to be considered for the National Poetry Month poster. The winning student’s artwork will be printed on 100,000+ copies of the official National Poetry Month poster, which will be distributed for free to classrooms, libraries, bookstores, community centers, families, and individuals nationwide.
Reflections Arts Program: National PTA
Each year, students are invited to create and submit original works of art in the areas of Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography and Visual Arts in the National PTA Reflections Competition. Student winners from the local level have the opportunity to move up through their district, region, council and state PTA programs to the national level.
Ocean Awareness Contest
The annual Ocean Awareness Contest is a platform for young people to learn about environmental issues through art-making and creative communication, explore their relationship to a changing world, and become advocates for positive change. Students ages 11-18 from around the world are invited to participate.
Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
The Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, whose mission is to identify students with exceptional artistic and literary talent and present their remarkable work to the world through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Students receive opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships.
YoungArts National Arts Competition
YoungArts’ signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages 15–18 or in grades 10–12. Selected through a blind adjudication process conducted by an independent panel of highly accomplished artists, YoungArts winners receive financial awards, creative and professional development experiences working with renowned mentors, and become eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
Business Competitions for High School Students
The following competitions are intended for students with a passion for business. This can include entrepreneurship, finance or many other similar categories. For more resources dedicated to exploring your career in business, check out the 2022 Guide to Your Future in Business, released earlier this year by TeenLife.
The Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition
The Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition is the most prestigious, virtual entrepreneurship competition in the world founded by and supported by high school students. Every year, individuals and/or teams pitch their innovative business concepts to experienced entrepreneurs and businesspeople, receive feedback on their ideas, join a community of like-minded students, and compete for thousands in cash prizes.
Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs
The Diamond Challenge provides a unique opportunity for teens to learn about entrepreneurship while putting their ideas into action. While many entrepreneurship programs focus on principles of small business management, the Diamond Challenge focuses on unleashing creativity, encouraging a mindset of abundance and self-determination, and promoting purposeful entrepreneurial action.
High School Fed Challenge
The High School Fed Challenge is an academic competition where teams of students act as future economists by researching and analyzing an important economic theme
Wharton Global High School Investment Competition
The Wharton Global High School Investment Competition is a free, online investment simulation for high school students (9th to 12th grade) and teachers. Students work in teams of four to seven, guided by a teacher or other advisor. Together, they learn about teamwork, communication, risk, diversification, company and industry analysis, and many other important aspects of investing.
STEM Competitions for High School Students
The following competitions are intended for students with a passion for STEM. This can include science. mathematics, tech, robotics, math or more! For more resources dedicated to exploring your career in STEM, check out the 2022 Guide to Your Future in STEM, released earlier this year by TeenLife.
3M Young Scientist Challenge
The 3M Young Scientist Challenge is the nation’s premier science competition for grades 5-8. This one-of-a-kind video competition has sparked a sense of wonder and discovery in hundreds of thousands of students and enhanced science, innovation and communication across the United States.
Clean Tech Competition
The Clean Tech Competition is a unique, worldwide research and design challenge for pre-college youth. The program encourages scientific understanding of real-world issues and the integration of environmentally responsible energy sources.
Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge
This competition challenges students to apply science, technology and innovation to solve problems with global impact. Teams are scored and provided on-the-spot feedback from the judging panel. The winning teams will receive scholarships, patent assistance and other services to fine-tune their innovations to create companies or license their IP to top-tier corporations. Through these unique events, students will gain direct exposure to industry experts, corporations, investors and universities.
International BioGENEius Challenge
This contest invites high school or home schooled students from around the world to join and grow in the biotechnology industry. The challenges facing scientists in healthcare, food supply, clean industry and environment don’t recognize political borders. Luckily, neither do the biotechnology solutions currently being devised in schools, labs and corporate headquarters across the world.
International Space Settlement Design Competition
This annual contest puts high school students in the shoes of aerospace industry engineers designing a city in space that will house over 10,000 people. Student engineers demonstrate creativity, technical competence, management skills, environmental knowledge, space, teamwork, and presentation techniques to conquer the problems inherent in siting and designing a Space Settlement (Space Colony).
Microsoft Imagine Cup
The Imagine Cup brings together student innovators using passion and purpose to tackle social issues with tech. The Imagine Cup is full of opportunities to gain new skills, access exclusive training, unlock mentorship opportunities, have the chance to win great prizes, and make a difference in the world.Follow the action as the 2022 finalists prepare to bring their projects to the global stage during Microsoft Build.
Junior Science and Humanities Symposia Competitions
The National JSHS brings together high school students who qualify by submitting and presenting original scientific research papers in regional symposia held at universities nationwide. High school teachers, mentors, university faculty, ranking military guests and others also attend and join in encouraging the future generation of scientists and engineers and celebrating student achievement in the sciences.
Math League Competitions
As the largest network of local and state math competitions at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the United States and abroad, mathleague.org runs more than 400 contests globally and reaches over 30,000 students each year.T he mathleague.org program includes a number of services focused on enhancing the quality and quantity of competitive mathematical opportunities available to students everywhere.
MIT Think Scholars Program
Rather than requiring students to have completed a research project before applying, THINK caters to students who have done extensive research on the background of a potential research project and are looking for additional guidance in the early stages of their project. The program is organized by a group of undergraduates at MIT.
Regeneron Science Talent Search
Started in 1942 as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS) recognizes and empowers our nation’s most promising young scientists who are developing ideas that could solve society’s most urgent challenges.
Space Settlement Contest
This annual contest, co-sponsored by NASA Ames and the National Space Society, is for 6-12th graders from anywhere in the world. Individuals, small teams of two to six, and large teams of seven or more (often whole classrooms with teacher leadership) may enter their design for and description of a human colony in outer space.
spUN Student Debates at ISDC
The National Space Society’s SpacEdge Education will be hosting virtual student debate tournaments. These spUN (Space Policy and UNiversalization) Debates will be offered at the middle school/high school level. The spUN Debates offer people around the globe an opportunity to contemplate the policies that will make their mark in space settlement.
Writing Competitions for High School Students
The following competitions are intended for students with a passion for writing. Whether you love fiction, nonfiction, journalism or something else entirely, there’s bound to be a competition for you!
Baen Fantasy Adventure Award
Baen Books presents the annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. The award recognizes the best original adventure fantasy short story in the style of fantasy greats like Larry Correia, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Andre Norton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and David Weber.
Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Awards
A panel of Crown Judges assembles each year at Columbia University to view all entrants to this competition, whether they are newspaper, magazines, yearbooks or online media. Judges are experienced former advisers to student media, professional journalists who understand student media or professionals such as photographers or online specialists with particular expertise needed for the judging exercise. Learn More
The Emerson Prize
The Emerson Prize is awarded annually to students published in The Concord Review during the previous academic year who have shown outstanding promise in history at the high school level. Since 1995, over 200 students have won an Emerson Prize, and we are pleased to announce the most recent international recipients of the award from Volume 31, who each received $1,000 for their work.
Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest
The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest has been co-sponsored by NSS and Baen Books since 2007. Science fiction writers who create positive stories about man’s future in space are rewarded with professional publication, NSS membership, and an award presented each year at the ISDC. Winning entries aren’t pulp tales about galactic empires or alien abductions, but serious near future stories about the sacrifice, heroics, adventure and discovery with our expansion into the solar system.
National Scholastic Press Association Awards
The NSPA presents Individual Awards honoring the best individual work in scholastic journalism each year. There are 11 categories, plus a 12th category for junior high/middle school, with a number of subcategories in each. NSPA also give scholastic journalism’s preeminent award, the Pacemaker Award, each year. There is a category for each type of publication — Broadcast, Magazine, Online, Newspaper/Newsmagazine and Yearbook
This is just a small taste of the many different kinds of competitions for high school students out there. Be sure to take some time and think about what you’re best at. There’s sure to be a contest out there where you can put your skills on display!