FRC Blogged - Something New – FIRST Dean’s List Changes

Taken from the FRC Blog, 9/20/13:

Something New – FIRST Dean’s List Changes

**Blog Date: **Friday, September 20, 2013 - 13:37

We’ve got some important changes to the *FIRST *Dean’s List process for the 2014 Season.

It’s important that students being selected for *FIRST *Dean’s List be able to take full advantage of their selection. We want these students to be able to list their selection for this prestigious award on their college applications, and we want their selection to motivate them to even greater accomplishments with their teams through the following seasons. For these reasons, while in the past, teams could nominate any high school student on their teams for *FIRST *Dean’s List, starting in the 2014 season, nominations will be restricted to Sophomores and Juniors.

Also, the feedback we’ve received has indicated that it’s very hard to pick *FIRST *Dean’s List Finalists from the written submissions alone. So, as a pilot for the 2014 Season, we’re introducing an interview component to the selection process. All *FIRST *Dean’s List nominees at Regionals will participate in brief interviews with a panel of judges at the event. For Districts, as no Finalists are selected at the District competition level, nominees will participate in brief interviews at the District/State Championship level where their selection takes place. Interviews will not take place at the *FIRST *Championship level, because of the because of the number of individuals that would need to be interviewed. However, the judges selecting the *FIRST *Dean’s List Winners at the *FIRST *Championship will have access to interview notes from the earlier interviews that took place when the Finalists were selected.

Another advantage of these interviews is that it will give all nominees an additional challenging experience at events. As I’ve said before in this blog, I believe people grow when they’re given something to push against. All nominees, along with those selected as Finalists, will receive feedback on their interviews from the judges.

*FIRST *Dean’s List nominees will not need to prepare any kind of presentation for the interview, and interviews will last no more than five minutes. We’re working through additional details at this time.

I want to emphasize that this is a pilot for the 2014 Season. As well as stretching our nominees, this will also stretch our judging and space resources, and there’s a chance we may find that the cost of this change is not worth the benefits we receive.

I’ll blog again soon.


I don’t know how I feel about this. To me, it sounds like they are thinking too much of, “oh, this award would be great for college applications!”, instead of focusing on giving it to who really earns it, no matter what their age. I’ve heard of teams submitting freshman, because they have more dedication and commitment than some upperclassmen. The award should be given out to students who earned it for their continuing hard work, instead of giving it out to “motivate them” even more. I have a few very good friends who have earned the Dean’s List Finalist Award, and from what I’ve seen, if they have been doing so much to be given the award, they already have plenty of the right motivation. Some students don’t even really gain the motivation and show their best effort until their senior year, and now it would be too late for them to get rewarded for it. I know there were some members on my old high-school team who we were waiting until their senior year to submit them for Dean’s List, because we felt they would step it up even more so than they already had. From my own experience, I felt barely involved at first in freshman year, and only became more so during my sophomore year. It wasn’t until my junior and senior years that I began to breathe-eat-and-sleep FRC. I honestly can’t really see how a sophomore could be submitted for such a prestigious award, but there is a lot I haven’t seen.

But, I trust that like altering Chairman’s, this decision was discussed by many, so I assume it is for the best then if multiple officials agreed on it. And I **do **like the new interview portion of it now.

What I *would *like to see, however, is modifying Dean’s List the same way Chairman’s was - selected candidates would be eligible to win at any regional they attend, not just one.

Interesting change. I personally think in theory it seems like a good idea, as it puts a face to the essay, and truly gives the judges a feel for who the students are.

With that said in practicality time will only tell if it works or not. With that said I’m excited to see this change and what happens.

As for the Sophomore/Junior Requirement, I understand this brings Dean’s List Recipients more in line with FIRST’s intent of the award, however I feel this part of the change isn’t going to go over exactly well. Many teams still treat it as a Senior Award, and many students are going to get left out because of this.

I don’t know how you can really justify nominating a sophomore for this award. I feel like this is something that a student has to demonstrate over the years (sort of like Chairman’s for a team), meaning that a sophomore won’t have had time to prove himself or herself.

On the topic of interviews, I think that’s a better way of doing this, as it can be very difficult to ascertain the quality of a student solely based on an essay written by a mentor.

Re - the Junior-Sophomore aspect: I fully agree and support this change, and it’s the way I think it should have been all along.

My current Senior, on the other hand, has a different perspective.

Does this automatically disqualify entrants from teams that do not advance to their district championship?

I agree 200% with the interview component, however I completely disagree with the Sophomore/Junior restriction. Seniors who have been with their team/program for four years have had more time to make an even bigger impact, and they should be recognized for that, wether it will show up on a college application or not.

It’s important that students being selected for FIRST Dean’s List be able to take full advantage of their selection. We want these students to be able to list their selection for this prestigious award on their college applications, and we want their selection to motivate them to even greater accomplishments with their teams through the following seasons.

This says it all. By the time a senior receives their Dean’s List Award (March or April of their senior year), they’re done with the college application process. By that point most of our kids have received their acceptance letters and are figuring out which school they want to go to. Effectively, the Dean’s List isn’t going to do much for them except give them recognition. On the other hand, the Dean’s List could do a lot for a sophomore and junior who more than likely hasn’t started the college application process.

I would assume no, however, the nominee would have to show up to do an interview-something that could be a huge burden on certain finalists. That’s probably the only issue I have with this interview process, unless interviews via Skype would be allowed.

Otherwise, the junior-sophomore restriction isn’t the best scenario, however it fits directly in line with FIRST’s intent of the award. Nominating juniors is something that was strongly encouraged in the rules since 2012(and even part of Dean’s HW that year).

While I wholeheartedly agree with interviewing candidates, I am at odds with the decision to restrict entrance to sophomores and juniors. Like others have said, some students may not flower until their late junior/early senior year in terms of productivity and FIRST talent. Late comers may become the support beams to various teams, but would not be recognized.

That being said, I can see why FIRST wants to get colleges to value the Dean’s List higher. It’s not exactly a hidden truth that top tier institutes prefer to see science fair medalists, science olympiad champions, and winners of various other awards over FIRST, the reason being that while those other activities have individual winners, FIRST is a team sport, and as such, anyone can write FIRST on their applications. FIRST introduced the Dean’s List initially to honor students, but there still was the problem of FIRST not being weighted as much as individual awards in academia.
FIRST is pushing the award to be given early in the student’s career so they can place it on their college application, thereby giving their FIRST activity as much weight as winning the state science fair or something similar. The negative of this? We are limiting our pool of applicants and filtering out some of the higher quality applicants from the pool.

Limiting the pool of applicants might make it so students get more credit for FIRST on their college applications, but FIRST is eliminating the potential to award a more deserving person of the highest honor a FIRSTer could get.

Personally, I like the Sophomore/Junior part of this. While it’s great to recognize graduating seniors who did a fantastic job (and that’s something I would encourage every team to find a way to do), an award like this should mean something more than just recognition.

A Dean’s List finalist is someone everyone in FIRST should be able to look up to. It’s hard to do that if you never see that individual again, which is a sad part of graduating - once you’re off to college, there isn’t time for much else (And I’m a strong proponent of graduates taking at least a year off from FIRST to get the college experience before coming back as a mentor!). By recognizing Sophomores and Juniors, we give them another year or two to use that recognition and title to help affect FIRST in their community before they go off to college.

So, as a community lets change how we treat the Dean’s List. Lets look at it not as a recognition award that we forget the next year. Lets look at the students who win it as the ones we’ll turn to to help enhance the entire FIRST community over the next year!

I am torn on the decision to do the interviews for District areas at the District championship, I think it will put a large burden on the Judges as well as teams that do not qualify for District Champs. I like what someone suggested of a Skype interview maybe the week prior to try and fit them all in.

While I’m glad that FIRST is trying changes in the ways of selecting the 2014 Dean’s List, I have reservations in the fact in the restriction to sophomores & juniors. My first thought: why exclude a class of student that may have some of the most collective experience in the FRC program? In my years outside of high school and working with students, many came to their peak in their senior years in the effect they had on the FIRST culture. As a Dean’s List Winner myself, I can say I understand the intent; but I can’t say I agree. But then again, this could bring some new developments to the award that we could never have imagined in the realm of college & university relations, or opportunities to future DL finalists & winners, the latter of which I’ve wanted for finalists for a while. My final thought: let’s see where this goes.

I like the interview part, but the sophomore/junior limitation really saddens me.

First of all, because of all the great seniors that won’t be able to receive the award. I know some seniors who deserve Dean’s List, and weren’t submitted in their junior year because that year’s seniors received the honor. I think starting this limitation in 2015 would be wiser, to allow those who waited a chance.

Secondly, because that seems like a very american-oriented decision, that doesn’t really consider the international teams. In Israel, senior year is THE most relevant year to receive Dean’s List, and I don’t know about Canada, but if I remember correctly they can still use Dean’s List for their college applications in senior year. (And yes, I’m being self centered and am aware of that). The limitation should be country based IMO.

Yes, awards and recognitions you receive late in your senior (Grade 12) year of high school in Canada can still have a large impact on your admission decision, and a huge impact on your scholarship decisions. This decision is definitely disappointing for Canadian high school seniors (as was the previous preference for junior year candidates). That being said, Canadian teams will just nominate these deserving seniors one year earlier. By no means is this a deal breaker.

True, but you could say the same about American teams being able to submit seniors. They could do it a year earlier, and there’s still a limitation.
The older the achievement, the less impressive it appears. A year may not be a long time, but it can still have a big difference on the way those you’re trying to impress (colleges in that case) look at your Dean’s List Finalist status. I learned that on my flesh (through a different achievement, not Dean’s List).

Ok Frank…you tell me that you read CD.

Did you take a poll, conduct a focus group, ask specific mentors or gather inputs from the FRC field regarding these changes? The internationals, Israel, Canada etc…have different systems as evidenced by Karthik and bardd.

You have my number.

I feel the way to fix this honestly for the seniors that are now currently in session is to wait to make this change till 2015 season, so all current seniors wouldn’t be effected. Afterward you nominate your deans list candidate in the summer or before school is in session.

All though the award of sophomores and juniors is a smart go; just the timing was pretty wrong for those teams nominating seniors. We don’t have canada tech here to do what they do.

I could appreciate when FIRST encouraged teams to nominate Sophomore and Junior students for the Dean’s List award. Dean’s List is a great honor and a great asset on a college application. So I understand why FIRST did what it did.

But Dean’s List is largely about recognizing a student’s contribution to the program. About recognizing a student who poured their soul into the program, to spread FIRST to the community and to generally further the goals of FIRST. This is an award that should be ageless. By limiting to ages, FIRST could be passing over some very deserving seniors.

Encouraging teams to nominate Sophomores and Juniors was a good effort, but forcing teams to do so just seems wrong to me…

That said, I really like the interview process! It’ll probably put a bit of extra strain on the judging staff, but I think it’ll be worth it. I really like this addition!

Doing this, though, just sucks the system into an endless cycle of waiting till next year to allow current seniors the chance at winning. Like if you allow 2014 seniors the chance, then you take away the chance for 2014 juniors. Then in 2015 you’d have to allow 2015 seniors but then you’d take away 2015 juniors. You see the endless cycle?

I think a better way they could have approached this would have been to implement the interview process and tell teams that it might be better to try and put up sophomores and juniors but keep it open for everyone; I, like many others, do believe that more students become who they are on teams when they are seniors.

I’m not happy with the fact that some of the most deserving team members are suddenly ineligible. The obvious fix is to push the “no Seniors” rule out another year. My suggestion to address the “endless cycle” problem dodar pointed out would be to permit teams to nominate three students this year instead of two (perhaps giving that privilege only to teams who nominated a senior last year).