Model United Nations (MUN): Why You Should Join

May 16, 2021
By AdmissionSight

Model United Nations (MUN): Why You Should Join

The standards have grown for what leading universities now consider to be a “model student,” and if you are looking to match up with the competition and have a penchant for public speaking and debate then apply to join the Model United Nations. Amplify your skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing, and research and be nationally recognized by the UN in conferences conducted at the UN Headquarters.

The Model United Nations started in 1927 before the UN even existed. At that time, the program was known as the Model Assembly of the League of Nations, and keynote speakers such as Eleanor Roosevelt and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan amplified the presence of the program.

It eventually grew to its current popularity with over 5,000 students attending conferences each year. Conferences are typically staffed by UN Secretariat members and faculty from top universities like Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown.

a group of students talking each other in the library

This year the Model United Nations members are invited to attend the National United Nations conferences held in New York City from the end of March through early April, and throughout November in Washington DC, Japan, and the Czech Republic. During the national conferences, Model United Nations members gain the experience of approaching and negotiating difficult global topics with other UN members who each represent the views of their assigned country or organization.

Model United Nations or National Speech

You’ll learn how to delegate important and critical issues currently facing the world, such as internet privacy, artificial intelligence, debt sustainability, combating human trafficking, or combating climate change. You’ll collaborate with diverse and socially conscious students who are also seeking to empower themselves with hands-on educational experience. Being a Model United Nations member will help you in your goals of changing the world, but will also allow you to understand the difficult nature of compromise even within a simulated environment.

Perhaps changing the world isn’t necessarily on your agenda, but partaking in a well-researched debate is what intrigues you about the Model United Nations? Then consider joining the National where you can go head-to-head in debates and speeches across the country in pulse-racing competitions with other high school students.

A man pointing at the laptop screen while a woman is taking down notes

During competitions, you will get to argue either for or against a robust debatable issue in front of a live audience. Categories range from world, policy, congressional, and public forum debate and the current topic for the national policy debate competition is criminal justice reform.

Prior topic areas range from debates about whether the US should withdraw from the Afghanistan peace process, if the United States should end its economic sanctions against Venezuela, to subjects such as if the United States should replace means-tested welfare programs with a universal basic income. If you are the type of person who would typically be debating these types of subjects with families or friends during a meal, then the National might be the perfect community for you.

However, the National isn’t just about debates, it’s also about giving speeches that will prepare you for college interviews, professional interviews, and any public speaking roles your future career might require.

Members compete in competitions that draw on their speech and writing skills to develop commentaries, read dramatic monologues, craft original speeches, and present plays and short stories that are humorous or educational. You can view all competitions and events being held this year by the National and learn how to do things such as control time limits, or speak more elegantly, from past debate and speech competitors.

Former Students

Past alumni of the National include high school students like 17-year-old Wolf Cukier, who recently helped scientists discover a planet during an internship he secured with NASA shortly after winning at nationals. There’s also Joanna Bai, another finalist of the debate and speech competition who found the courage to speak up as an advocate for her friend with Down Syndrome by founding a non-profit called special musicians, a music program for kids with disabilities to express themselves through music.

Or Saskia Reford, whose debate team lost two members due to suicide, so she convinced other teams to use money that would normally be given for trophies to support mental health programs in high schools. Even television superstar Jared Padalecki from Smallville and Gilmore Girls was a 1998 Champion of the National Speech and Debate Association Duo Interpretation competition.

No matter where these competitions take you, they will be sure to deepen your interest and curiosity into understanding what position you take on some of the world’s most challenging topics. Plus, competitions like these will make you a better communicator of your future goals when college essay and interview season comes around.

Benefits of joining Model United Nations

Now that you have a strong understanding of what Model United Nations is and what it means for current and former members, you may be interested in gaining a greater understanding of what it actually offers students who get involved through the experiences that it takes members down.

Without a doubt, joining highly competitive and established groups such as Model United Nations comes with a certain amount of prestige for students. It gives them something to talk about that will really interest college admissions offices at even the most competitive schools.

However, that level of prestige is simply scratching the surface when it comes to what students get out of it. Let’s break down the top benefits of joining Model UN from the point of view of the students who join it.

Students learn how to problem-solve as a member of a team

So much of adult life has to do with simple problem solving and dealing with issues and anxieties as they come at you. Model UN serves as a really valuable way for students to get used to becoming problem solvers many years ahead of the pack.

At its core, Model UN is a valuable lesson in problem solving. While students are only simulating representing a country in the UN, the problems that they take on, analyze, discuss and look to solve are very real.

Once students are confident in taking on massive issues that the world faces in real-time, they will feel much more confident taking on issues and problems that they face in their own lives.

Students gain worldly knowledge

It is definitely important to keep up with the affairs of the world. In an ever-globalized world, it is becoming abundantly clear how the things that happen across the globe will soon impact us. However, it can be hard to keep up with those kinds of current global affairs just through reading the news or following trending topics on social media.

Beyond that, it can be hard to get a full-scope view of a certain subject based on the publications that you follow and read.

Luckily, by participating in Model United Nations, students will experience a major increase in their general knowledge of what is going on in the world as they seek to represent a country at the ‘global’ level. The main reason for this is because as a delegate, students will be expected to heavily research their allotted countries as well as go through some pretty deep analysis and understanding of their general foreign policy.

This kind of research will lead to an incredible wealth of knowledge about both the countries that a student represents as well as other countries around the world.

Students gain important analytical skills

When going from high school to college, students often are surprised by where the emphasis is when it comes to their learning. While memorizing and fact-gathering is often most important in high school, in-depth analysis becomes increasingly important in high school, grad school and beyond.

For that reason, students would be wise to consider the fact that Model UN prepares them for that analysis-heavy workload. Strong analytical abilities is crucial when it comes to success at Model. UN.

In the simulated UN environment, students will be challenged and required to solve the tasks at hand through examining the concerns of the country that they are representing as well as their own country.

Students build confidence and public speaking skills

One major concern for children these days is that they are losing important opportunities to speak publicly and gain confidence in social situations. This is partially due to the fact that learning – and socializing – have become increasingly linked to technology. Students are learning more and more from behind a screen. While this may be fine in traditional learning environments, it can hurt students greatly when they enter the real world and need to have great social skills in order to set themselves apart.

Luckily, Model UN serves as a great way for high school students to get out into the world, engage with students and grown-ups alike, and even get some important experience when it comes to presentation and public speaking.

Group of students walking to go to school.

Model UN involves meeting many new people, interacting and working with unfamiliar faces, and being able to express oneself in a clear, concise, and professional manner. Taking part in discussions, debates and resolutions related to Model UN will serve as a great way for a high schooler to boost his or her confidence in social spheres.

Students learn about the power of negotiation

Whether a student has dreams of one day actually getting involved in global politics, entering the business world, or any other line of work that demands negotiation, Model UN will serve as a fantastic pond for them to dip their feet into. Diplomacy and negotiation are at the heart of Model UN.

Just as one country will have to negotiate with another in order for both to be happy during Model UN, so too will a high school student one day have to negotiate with another individual, business or other entity once they enter the professional world. Through Model UN, students will become much more knowledgeable and experienced on how to conduct negotiations between two groups in a mature and result-driven manner.

That is just one of the many reasons why taking part in Model UN is a great way for students to begin grooming themselves for the professional world.

Students get an opportunity to lead

Truly, one of the most important things for students to do in high school when it comes to getting into the college or university of their dreams is take on leadership roles. Admissions officers simply love to see students who have pursued and taken on leadership roles in the clubs, groups, or teams that they were a part of in high school.

In Model United Nations, students literally role-play being a world leader and coming to agreements and compromises that will impact millions – if not billions – of human lives. That allows those students to continuously work on and improve their own leadership abilities. Without a doubt, this helps students get into great schools, and also helps them excel once they actually get on campus.

Students gain important writing skills

In high school and college alike, having a mastery of writing skills is really important for students who want to excel. However, that necessity certainly goes up a level in college as research and term papers often make up a larger percentage of a student’s final grade.

If students are looking to improve their writing skills, Model UN is a great place to do just that. Model UN requires a rather hefty amount of writing including, but not limited to, writing speeches, writing position papers on the given topic, potential amendments, and finally writing the resolution.

On top of that, the writing that is expected in Model UN is going to be quite a bit more disciplined than your typical high school paper. Students will be asked to write at a level that is quite a bit above that of an A-grade high school paper. This will prepare them greatly for the expectations for their writing that is ahead at the college level.

Students get the chance to network with peers and mentors

Students who attend Model UN get access to an ideal way to network with and make friends with like-minded peers and potential mentors. During a Model UN event, students will be meeting with other delegates, senior delegates, judges, organizers, sponsors, and chairs of the given event. This can lead to a lot of new contacts that will want to keep in touch with one another long after the model UN event ends.

two females talking to each other in a hallway

It is quite common that these new contacts turn into valuable members of a student’s network when they are applying to other programs or even colleges and jobs.

Students get a major leg up when applying to top colleges and universities

This brings us to our final benefit that students get when they decide to take part in Model UN. Without a doubt, students will benefit from the really strong reputation that Model UN has cultivated over the years. Model UNs are known for their incredibly high quality, high standards, and high level of difficulty.

Taking part in one can become a major asset for high school students as they look to apply to some of the most competitive and prestigious colleges and universities in the world. In fact, top schools such as Harvard and Yale are known to give additional consideration to students who have taken part in Model UN. As high schoolers.

Ultimately, college admissions officers are always looking for high schoolers who spent their time in grade school challenging themselves, broadening their horizons, and earning leadership roles in programs and communities that they care about. This can all be achieved at a very high level by students who decide to take part in Model UN.

In summary

In the end, Model UN offers students an ideal way to challenge themselves and improve skills that will serve them now and many years into the future. While it may seem somewhat daunting to get involved in Model UN, there are very few students who end up regretting their decision to get involved.

AdmissionSight’s Edge

As you now know, taking part in Model United Nations can be highly impactful and rewarding for students who are interested in diplomacy, debate and learning about the world’s most important current events.

Becoming a member of a nationally recognized and historic speech and debate program isn’t the only way to secure your spot at an Ivy League university like Stanford, Caltech, or UChicago.  Secure an appointment to work with a former alumni interviewer for Princeton University, Eric Eng, who is uncontested at making sure your name is remembered by admission counselors.

Founder and CEO of AdmissionSight Eric Eng were featured in the US News & World Report for his take on “The Early Edge,” which helps students build on extracurricular experience through academic competitions and conferences like the Model United Nations, and strengthen personal essays, application materials.

Secure your right to that acceptance letter with AdmissionSight and showcase your academic strengths in a way that college admissions committees will notice.



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