Dean's List advice

Hi, I’m fairly new to this forum. Though I’ve used it for programming help in the past, I’ve never actually had an account.

I’ve been nominated for Dean’s List this year for the Lake Superior Regional in northern MN. Tomorrow I’m scheduling an interview at the regional. I’ve been nominated because I am our sole programmer (LabVIEW currently, learning C++) since our other programmer just decided to leave in 2014. I learned LabVIEW primarily on my own. I also developed and maintain our website (, run all of our communications (Facebook, Twitter, G+, Email), lead our media team (or what little we have of it), organize our Kickoff and Week Zero events, and CAD pieces of our robot for presentation and printing.

I’m usually doing something with robotics (including the dreaded inventory) at least weekly during the summer and fall (this year I also have to organize an off-season). On top of all this, I somehow find time to work (assistant to the IT guy at our school) and take college credit classes.

I have no reason to be surprised being selected for Dean’s List, but honestly I’ve been too involved in working on the robot to remember that this award exists. Now I’m going in for an interview tomorrow, but I have no idea how to go about doing it. I’m great at public speaking and can talk for a while about what I do and our team and bot, but I’m not sure if there are specific things I should touch on to get a better chance of winning? What types of questions do they usually ask? Since the interview is only eight minutes, how do I squeeze all of this in?


First of all, congrats on being nominated! I was a Dean’s List finalist last year, and the biggest thing that I can tell you is to relax. The judges aren’t out to make you screw up – they want to hear your story. They’ll be trying to get a sense of who you are, what you do for your team, what you do for FIRST, and how FIRST has impacted you, so if you can cover those things, you’re golden. Don’t try to work them in if it doesn’t flow with the questions they’re asking, though – they’ll ask the questions they need to fill in their gaps.

Here’s a list of practice Dean’s List questions I wrote for a friend who’s also nominated this year. They’re based off of questions I got, questions my friends have gotten, and what I would ask if I were to interview Dean’s List students.

  • How has FIRST impacted you as a person?
  • What are you planning on doing later in life? How has FIRST influenced this?
  • What do you think of the game this year?
  • What could FIRST be doing better?
  • What do you think of the Championsplit?
  • How did you get involved with FIRST, and what made you stay?
  • What have you done with other FIRST programs?
  • Tell me about the people you’ve met through FIRST. What have you learned from them?
  • What makes you an ideal DL candidate?
  • What do you do for the broader FIRST community beyond your area?

Best of luck! Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

Thanks! One thing to check, is the Championsplit FIRST’s plan to split Championships from one in St. Louis to two in Houston and Detroit in 2017-18?

I was also nominated for Dean’s list. What I was wondering is how much does the essay really matter? My mentor wrote the essay earlier in the year and it’s missing some of the things I have done since. I have my competiton/interview next week.

As another nominee, I think the essay is pretty important, seeing as it’s a short interview, and they don’t even interview at champs.

Yes, that’s it. The idea with that question and the ‘what could FIRST be doing better’ question is to see how you deal with things that are controversial in the FIRST community – how you phrase your responses, and why you choose them.

I think the essay matters quite a bit, but if you talk about stuff that’s not in the essay and mention that it’s not in the essay, you’ll be fine (locally at least, can’t promise anything for CMP).

I was a Finalist two years ago. I think the essay is important, but a bad essay won’t kill your chances. The judges will supplement it with the questions they ask you.

My advice is to just be calm and demonstrate your love and enthusiasm for FIRST. Thats really what they want to see.

Congrats to you and everyone else that is nominated for Dean’s List. As I’ve spoke with a bunch of Dean’s List winners and wrote a decent bit of essays for some of our student nominees, the essay is a pretty decent sized factor. In accordance to some of the things missing in the essay, you can definitely touch base on those points throughout your 8 minutes. Good luck!

Fill you in on how the judging process works:

  1. Essay submitted online - this is step 1. Judges review this in advance, the judges look at accomplishments and get excited to meet candidates. Its more of a warm up so they know who they are meeting.

  2. Interviews conducted. Every student nominated is interviewed, its a 5-7 minute interview. Talk to Pit Admin and get your interview time.

Best advice: Practice being interviewed. This isn’t too different from other Merit scholarships. You need to be conversational and keep an engaging conversation for a few minutes to score highly. If you can show excitement and passion, combined with the ability to articulate what makes you a great candidate, it will be valued greatly.

Don’t be nervous, be EXCITED. The judges are so happy that they get to meet with someone that other people think are awesome. Keep a few good stories and examples in your back pocket and have fun with this process. Don’t sound canned, be a human (you need to show both bad times and good times) and have fun with it.

The key to winning here is building an emotional connection with the judges so they don’t forget who you are. The interviews are literally a blur and anything you can do to stand out will help you.

  1. Judges select the candidate that best represents the criteria outlined in section 6.6.2 of the admin manual.

I was the mentor in the room when one of our students was being interviewed last year. From what I saw they will ask questions based off of the essay, but if you have done more, absolutely build on it in your answers. Remember that Dean’s List Finalists and Winners are the future ambassadors of FIRST so they want to know not only what you have done, but why FIRST matters to you.

Often times the nominees are students who are quite altruistic so the one thing I will say to them is to remember that though you were doing what you did to be nominated on behalf of the team, they are still YOUR accomplishments. The interview is not the time to be humble, be proud of what you did.

Hi, I’m been nominated for Dean’s Award this year as well. My team is relatively young and I am the first girl to be nominated by our team. I was wondering, what the proper attire is for Dean’s interviews for the gals? Any other recommendations would be appreciated as well!
Thanks in advance, SRP