Robotics awards and applying for college

Hi,

I am senior in high school and have been part of FTC for the last 3 years. This is my 4th year. Needless to say, robotics is my biggest EC activity. Our team does very well during competitions and over the last three years, we have received a whole bunch of team awards. Control award, compass award, promote award, inspire award to name a few. How do I show these in the awards section? If I list each one of them, it would take up all the spots. Some of these are smaller awards than others. Should i list all in one line?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

Also, do you guys think these awards are useful for college admission?

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Hey, fellow senior here (albeit in FRC). I’m not really listing the awards we did (we got awards from things like industrial design all the way up to EI and chairman’s) mostly cuz those were more team efforts. The only award of mine from robotics that I’m listing is deans list semifinalist. If you really wanna list an award I’d go with compass and other really big ones unless you yourself put a lot of effort in something like control or safety. This is just my two cents though, in the end it’s your application so you can ultimately decide what to put.

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My Opinion, speaking from the resume/job side (analogous but not identical), more detail is usually better, abet with diminishing returns.

The goal is to “strike a nerve” with the reader, to try and spark a connection so they look closer at the application. Doing this requires providing enough shiny-looking words that you have a good probability someone will be impressed, but not too many that they get lost in reading and just move on.

If you think there’s a good chance the person reading might know what the specific awards mean, might make sense to list them out. Otherwise, I’d stop at the most impressive sounding one or two (knowing all the reader will take away from it is “robots” and “award-winning”), and save the words and lines for other stuff.

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This. Also personal awards.

You can always add a line about “and other awards” but most impressive and personal will do you well.

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I agree with everything said thus far. The two FIRST awards I usually listed on college applications were Dean’s List Semi-Finalist (personal) and Global Innovation Awards Runner-Up (big deal).

If you are going to list an award, especially a team-based award, be sure you’re prepared to discuss what you did to impact that award. For example, if the team won a design award, but others on the team had a bigger input on the design, then don’t take credit for it. However, if you were the design lead for your team, and were specifically involved with developing whatever impressive mechanism was central to the robot, then it’s something worth bringing up!

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I agree with @Jon_Stratis, if you can personally say what you did to impact said award, that will show a lot.

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It also helps if you’re able to submit pictures or videos as supplemental materials, especially if you’re wanting to showcase specific technical knowledge.

Most people reviewing your application will not know what FIRST is, even if they do, will not know what the awards mean. I’ve typically recommended a short description of your role in the most impactful things, or why the award is important. Examples pulled from some of our students:

  • FIRST Robotics Competition Dean’s List Winner (20xx) and Finalist (20yy and 20yy) - an international award given to just 10 out of over 75,000 student competitors
  • FIRST Robotics Competition Engineering Inspiration Award (20xx InsertNameHere Regional) - as team captain and lead presenter to the judges, resulting in a $5000 team award from NASA and advancement to the World Championship
  • FIRST Tech Challenge: over 50 team awards or nominations, including 2 state championships, for the team I founded and captain (put awards related to your role, here – for instance, if you are the programmer and your team won the Control Award)

Second thing: if your team is winning Motivate and other outreach-related awards, you are probably involved in a lot of good community service. Call these things out separately from robotics! It will definitely strengthen your application. It’s really good to have a list of those events and how many hours you personally spent on each (this is something we help our students track on our team). Did your team volunteer at the state fair? At elementary school? Did you help lead a camp? Was there some other community service thing (non-robotics) that you did as a team? It all counts!

(really good FTC “Motivate” teams are often the equivalent of really good FRC “Chairman’s” teams, so don’t sell that stuff short. It can lead to some scholarship opportunities as well.

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Just coming out of the midst of college intern recruiting season, I just wanna re-echo all these concepts and thoughts. They’re all excellent advice in the wonderful world of “selling yourself and your abilities”, which is a skill that goes far beyond college applications.

Like others have said, you need to call out what you specifically did and why the award is meaningful, and it’s only going to have impact if it fits into the rest of your profile well.

When I work with students on college applications specifically, I suggest they use the lens of ‘can you position your material to show you’ll be a very successful person after college’ (and as such imply that you have a higher likelihood than others to be a future donor). Like many things, it’s showing you have a T-shaped profile (some breadth, but highly specialized in one thing with evidence to your effectiveness), making it clear through your writing that you’re a good communicator, and similarly make it clear through your experiences that you’re a motivated, nice person.

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