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How to Win Best Delegate in Model UN
When applying for college, high school students are often told that it’s important to be well-rounded—in other words, to have an extracurricular profile that shows a broad range of different interests. However, as we’ve discussed in our blog post Well-Rounded or Specialized?, it’s equally important that you demonstrate depth in a specific area.
One way to show your mastery of a particular subject or activity is, of course, to win a prestigious award, title, or other prize. When you apply to colleges, you’ll even be asked to describe the honors and awards you’ve won in a separate section of the application, which you can learn more about in our post on Reporting Honors and Awards on the Common App. Awards can show off not only your skill in a particular area, but the hard work you’ve put into it and your ability to perform well in a competitive setting.
In this post, we’ll review Model UN’s Best Delegate award, an honor given to exceptional performers at many Model UN conferences. Read on for an explanation of this award, as well as advice for crafting your strategy for winning Best Delegate.
A brief introduction to Model UN
The origins of Model UN date back to the 1920s, when students began organizing Model League of Nations events to simulate the real-world intergovernmental organization of the same name. When the League of Nations was succeeded by the United Nations after World War II, the student simulation followed suit and adopted its current name.
In the present day, Model UN is popular not only throughout the United States, but also all over the world, in incarnations intended for middle school, high school, and college students. In this post, we’ll be specifically referring to Model UN at the high school level, and primarily as it exists within the United States.
In Model UN, young people have the opportunity to research issues of international significance, develop policy positions, and draft resolutions mimicking those of the real UN. A number of different organizations exist to support and provide logistics for Model UN conferences, at which participants gather to practice these skills—and, frequently, to compete for awards and recognition.
Most students participate in Model UN as an extracurricular activity through their high schools, though independent teams do exist for homeschoolers and others without a school team. (Homeschoolers should check out our post A Guide to Extracurriculars for Homeschooled Students.) Generally, students from one high school will, as a team, represent the UN delegation from a particular nation, and attend conferences where teams from other schools represent delegations from other nations.
At a conference, different members of the team will serve on different committees, such as the UN Security Council, as representatives of their selected nation. They’ll take part in debates and the drafting of resolutions within that committee, arguing for their nation’s position on assigned issues using research they’ve conducted before the conference.
Through these activities, Model UN participants gain experience in public speaking, debate, and parliamentary procedure. Their research, including the writing of policy papers, also ensures that they’re well-informed about significant issues in today’s world. As a high-school extracurricular activity, Model UN has a lot to offer for college-bound students, especially those interested in fields like law, political science, and international relations.
The Best Delegate award
At most Model UN conferences, students have the chance to win a particularly coveted honor: the Best Delegate award. Since there isn’t one overarching, official Model UN organization to create policies for high school conferences, the procedures and standards by which this award is granted may vary, and some conferences are considerably more competitive than others.
Generally, the Best Delegate award is given to one student in each committee. At some conferences, only students serving on certain committees are eligible to win Best Delegate; at others, no Best Delegate awards are given out at all. In this post, we’ll describe the Best Delegate standards that you’re most likely to encounter in high school. Your club advisor can give you more detailed directions for each conference that your team attends.
Best Delegate awardees are usually selected by the committee chair, who is an adult volunteer rather than a high school participant. While the selection process depends upon what actually happens within that committee during the conference, the Best Delegate award is generally given to a student who has demonstrated exceptional overall performance. We’ll go over more specific details of what it takes to be Best Delegate below.
You may be wondering how important it is that you win Best Delegate. While awards like this one aren’t the only thing of importance when considering your extracurricular activities, any honors or titles that showcase your abilities in competition are definitely a positive asset for your college applications.
Without an award or title, it can be difficult to put your hard work and dedication into a tangible form that others will understand. In addition, winning an award can back up your self-assessment of your performance in an extracurricular activity like Model UN, making a subjective experience much more quantifiable.
Winning Best Delegate provides you with a way to demonstrate your effort and your performance in Model UN to admissions committees, and shows that you’ve excelled at what you set out to do. The popularity of Model UN and the reputation of the Best Delegate award—especially at the more well-known high school conferences—means that colleges will definitely recognize and respect this achievement when they consider your application.
Again, however, winning awards is not the only important thing, and participating in Model UN can benefit you in significant ways regardless of whether you win an award. Building your skills at public speaking, collaborating with others, and arguing your position eloquently and convincingly will serve you well regardless of your specific future plans, so putting effort into Model UN can be a wise choice whether you win the Best Delegate award or not.
How to win Best Delegate
Now that you know why winning the Best Delegate award is a great goal for which to strive in high school Model UN, it’s time to discuss how. Again, different Model UN conferences may have different procedures, and since the committee chair selects the Best Delegate, the process is somewhat subjective. Still, there are some general principles you can follow to improve your chances of receiving this award.
Participate actively and often in your committee’s proceedings.
Simply put, you can’t receive the Best Delegate award if no one knows you’re there. You need to make sure your voice is heard, stay in the thick of the debate, and actively engage with the other committee members. As long as you’re respectful to the other committee members, there’s nothing wrong with standing out for your high level of participation.
Demonstrate leadership skills.
You’ll stand a better chance of being named Best Delegate if you’re clearly a leader within your committee, someone who plays a formative role in the committee’s eventual conclusions. Work on shaping and guiding the proceedings without appearing overbearing, learn how to delegate appropriately, and be sure to stay open to the concerns and needs of others in the group. You can find more information about how to demonstrate leadership in our post on Securing Leadership Positions and Perfecting Your Extracurricular Profile.
Maintain good working relationships with others.
After all, Model UN is about diplomacy. You’ll be much more effective as a force within your committee if you’re on good terms with other committee members and are known to be respectful, trustworthy, and approachable. Be sure to extend your diplomacy to the committee chair as well—they generally choose the winner of the Best Delegate award, so their opinion of you is especially important.
Craft effective compromises.
While Model UN is in some ways a competitive activity, it’s also one in which you absolutely need to be able to collaborate with others to build a mutually satisfactory product. Being able to defend the most important aspects of your own position while also incorporating others’ concerns is necessary if your committee is to successfully navigate the challenge you’ve been given.
Know your topic inside and out.
Conduct thorough research, both on the country you’re representing and on the issue that your committee is considering. Consider multiple points of view, including those that oppose your position, in order to craft stronger and more nuanced arguments and defend them more persuasively. A Best Delegate winner will leave no doubts about their understanding of the topic at hand.
Hone your communication abilities.
The ability to communicate clearly and persuasively, whether through public speaking or through writing, is a tremendous asset to a Model UN participant. You can’t become Best Delegate if you aren’t communicating your thoughts and ideas effectively, but fortunately, effective communication is a skill that you can learn and practice. Besides, becoming a strong communicator will help you in the future, no matter what career path you choose.
Above all, stand out.
Particularly at large conferences, you’ll find yourself among many experienced, skilled, and hard-working fellow participants. In order to win Best Delegate, you’ll have to set yourself apart from them, just as you’ll eventually have to set yourself apart from other applicants in order to get admitted to a competitive college. Maintain your confidence, and make yourself known in the most positive way possible.
Finding related extracurricular activities
If you’re interested in Model UN, you’re probably also considering other extracurriculars that will help you develop similar skills. Here at the CollegeVine blog, we have all your extracurricular needs covered, from learning about new activities to developing as a leader. For more information, take a look at these posts from CollegeVine:
CollegeVine’s near-peer mentorship program is also here to help you build a winning extracurricular profile. Our experienced mentors can guide you through the process of finding your passions, meeting your goals, and preparing for the college application process. Visit the CollegeVine Mentorship Program website for more information.