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5 Finance and Economics Competitions for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A male student standing in a brightly lit hallway holding a pile of paper

5 Finance and Economics Competitions for High School Students

Are you a high school student with a passion for finance and economics looking for ways to stand out in your college applications? In today’s competitive academic landscape, showcasing your skills and interests through extracurricular activities can make a significant difference.  Participating in competitions is a fantastic way to do just that. These competitions not only allow you to apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios but also provide opportunities to network, learn, and build a resume that shines. In this blog, we will explore five outstanding finance and economics competitions for high school students that you can participate in to boost your college application and gain invaluable experience.

1. Stock Market Game

  • Location: In all participating schools
  • Cost: Free
  • Competition Date:
    • Summer Session – June 12 to August 11, 2023
    • Fall Session- September 5 to December 1, 2023
    • Spring Session – January 8 to April 5, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Rolling basis
  • Eligibility: Grades 4 – 12

The Stock Market Game™, presented by the SIFMA Foundation, is an online simulation of the global capital markets. It engages students from grades 4-12 in economics, investing, and personal finance. The game has been an educational tool since 1977, helping nearly 20 million students understand the financial markets. It’s designed to build a fundamental understanding of investing while offering real-world skills and practice in various subjects like math, economics, and social studies.

Screenshot of buying male stocks and futures markets

Participants in The Stock Market Game manage a virtual portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, learning about the dynamics of the financial markets. The game includes different levels for beginners, intermediates, and advanced players, with company-specific and market-wide news impacting the simulated investments. This platform not only enhances financial literacy but also improves academic performance and saving and investing habits. It’s an engaging way for you to learn about financial decision-making and the stock market’s impact on our daily lives​​.

2. National Economics Challenge

  • Location: New York City
  • Cost: Free
  • Competition Date: June 1–3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 13, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students

One of the most competitive finance and economics competitions for high school students, The National Economics Challenge (NEC) is an exclusive competition for high school students across the United States, focusing on economics. It is notable for being the only competition of its kind in the country, dedicated solely to economics. Annually, over 10,500 students participate, showcasing their knowledge in economic principles and their ability to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to real-world scenarios. The challenge operates at state, national semi-final, and national final levels, offering a comprehensive test of students’ economic understanding.

The competition is structured in two divisions: The Adam Smith Division, which is for students enrolled in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and honors economics courses, and the David Ricardo Division, designed for first-time competitors who have taken no more than one economics course. This format ensures a level playing field, allowing students from various backgrounds and levels of experience to participate effectively. The NEC starts with state-level competitions, with the winning teams advancing to the national semi-finals and ultimately, the national finals.

3. National Personal Finance Challenge

  • Location: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Cost: Free
  • Competition Date: May 19-20, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 24, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students

The National Personal Finance Challenge (NPFC) is a competitive opportunity for high school students across the United States to showcase their knowledge and skills in personal finance. The competition begins with an online round where students tackle a 30-question challenge. High-performing teams from this round advance to their respective state finals, and the winners of these state competitions earn a place in the National Finals.

The 2024 National Personal Finance Challenge Finals are set to take place on May 19-20 in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. During this event, state champion teams will engage in creating financial plans for a fictional family scenario, and the top 16 teams will further compete in a Quiz Bowl for the national championship title. Not only is this an exciting learning experience, but it also comes with significant rewards. All expenses, excluding transportation to and from the state of origin, are covered for the teams in Cleveland. Furthermore, the top four teams will receive cash prizes, with the first-place team winning $2,000, the second-place $1,000, the third-place $500, and the fourth-place $250, for each student member and the teacher coach​​​​​​.

4. The Fed Challenge

  • Location: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Competition Date: March 18-22, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 26, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students (grades 9-12)

The Fed Challenge is one of the most prestigious finance and economics competitions for high school students for high school students, providing a unique opportunity to study the U.S. economy through the perspective of the Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank. In the challenge, you will be part of a team learning about the dynamics of the economy and the Federal Open Market Committee’s work. The competition is designed to encourage students to deepen their understanding of economics and promote interest in it as a field of study and career.

a student reviewing the stock market

During the competition, teams of up to five students participate in a Virtual High School Fed Challenge. Each team presents a 15-minute presentation on the state of the U.S. economy and a policy prescription for the Fed, followed by a 10-minute Q&A session with judges. This competition is not just about presenting facts; it’s about thinking critically, constructing solid arguments, and effectively communicating complex economic concepts. It aligns with the Framework for 21st Century Skills and Common Core State Standards, emphasizing critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration​​​.

5. FBLA National Awards

  • Location: Orlando, Florida
  • Cost: $195.00
  • Competition Date: June 29 – July 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: FBLA members who qualify through their local and state-level competitions

The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Awards program is a comprehensive competitive event platform designed to recognize and reward excellence in a wide array of business and career-related areas. Participation in FBLA competitive events not only showcases your talents and knowledge in various business aspects but also equips you with practical skills necessary for your professional growth.

A teacher teaches stock trading.

At the national awards, students are challenged in various competitions that assess their business acumen and skills. Winners at this level gain the opportunity to compete at the National Leadership Conference held every summer for national recognition. It’s important to note that states have the discretion to alter the events presented at the district/region and state levels. Therefore, always consult your state’s specific guidelines when participating in these levels of competition.

Final Thoughts

As you step forward in your academic journey, remember that participating in finance and economics competitions is more than just a strategy to enhance your college application. It’s a journey towards personal growth, understanding real-world business challenges, and developing skills that will serve you well beyond high school. Each competition offers a unique experience, a chance to learn, and an opportunity to showcase your talents.

So, choose the one that resonates with your interests and goals, and take a confident step toward your future. Remember, in the world of finance and economics, your potential is limitless, and these competitions are just the beginning of a thrilling and rewarding journey.

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