Academic Awards for High School Students

Find out how earning a scholastic award can help you during your college admissions.

Did you know that the academic awards you win in high school are worth a lot more than the space they take up on your shelf? In fact, they might help you get into college.

Increasingly, universities are looking for well-rounded students and, nowadays, a good GPA isn’t always enough to get into the school you want. High school academic awards, whether for a specific subject or just for all-around excellence in school, can be great ways to prove that you’re ready for the academic demands of college.

You should always strive to be your absolute best, so try to score a few academic awards – after all, it can’t hurt to apply.

Why Are High School Academic Awards Important for College Admissions?

A GPA is a very strange number out of context. It can depend on too many variables: your health, whether you like your classes, who your teacher is. The same student could get a 4.0 in one high school but a lower GPA in a different one. Academic awards—especially national awards—are a great way to show colleges that you can succeed in any setting.

How Do I Get Academic Awards?

Academic Awards for high schoolers can be district school awards, regional, statewide or even given out on a national level. Ask your teachers and school counselors what kinds of scholastic awards are given out to students in your area and how you can apply for them.

You can also look online for privately-funded awards or national achievements. The National Society of High School Scholars is a great place to find academic awards that will make you a stronger applicant when applying to college.

Are Some Academic Awards Also Scholarships?

Yes! A great deal of academic awards also come with monetary prizes to help you pay for tuition, textbooks, computers, and other expenses that you’ll come across when entering your postsecondary education. In fact, most of the awards found at The National Society of High School Scholars are scholarships – meaning, you won’t have to pay the money back post-graduation. Don’t be afraid to apply to any and all of them.

Are Academic Awards Really That Important?

You should always strive to be your absolute best, so try to score a few academic awards—after all, it can’t hurt to apply. But don’t stress too much! Remember, colleges look for well-rounded students, and having no high school academic awards isn’t an admissions deal breaker. Just make sure to pursue the things you love in high school. Commit yourself to sports or theatre or clubs. Colleges just want to see that you aren’t coasting through life!

Academic Awards for High School Students: Tips and Tactics

  • Stay organized. Academic award applications can be similar to scholarship applications in that you need to stay on top of deadlines and procedures. Mark your calendar and stay on top of your applications.
  • Keep in mind that some academic awards don’t even require an application. The National Merit Scholarship Program, for example, is based entirely off of your PSAT scores. Since most schools require students to take the PSAT, you could get a scholastic award for something you had to do anyway!

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