How Model UN Can Help You Get Into College


When it comes to getting into college, some activities stand out more than others. Colleges will notice extracurricular activities that not every student has listed. Model UN can be an activity that shows you are capable and ready for the challenges at the next level.

College is always looming over the heads of high school students. The students and their parents are always thinking about ways to increase their chances that the universities will see them as unique. They strive to ensure that their applications will stand out among thousands of others. There are always the typical types of things: cheerleading, sports, mock trial, ect. How about something that stands out? 

Model UN can give students the edge when it comes to getting into colleges. If it is presented the right way, students can display the skills to learn and show colleges the value that they will gain by taking a student who has been in Model UN. This article will outline some of the things that colleges are looking for and how your students can maximize the benefits. 

What Universities Are Looking For

Read this article and look at the fourth item on their list. It says colleges and universities look for high school students who have a passionate involvement in a few high school activities. It does not say they want students who did it all, but never mastered anything. Model UN is something different and it is certainly something students can become passionate about. As a Model UN participant (or teacher, program coordinator and parents who may be reading this), you will want to know what skills can be gained from Model UN.

Here are some of the skills that students will acquire when they participate in Model UN.

Critical Thinking/Analysis
Gained through comparing and contrasting differing viewpoints and choosing the correct path for the situation.
Students will be negotiating in ever-changing situations. They will have to use their knowledge and analysis to respond quickly and appropriately.

Public Speaking/Communication Skills
Gained through committee session speeches and statements.
Practiced throughout the year and at the conference.
Students will be communicating and persuading others to see their viewpoints in both formal and informal settings during the conference.

Research Skills
Gained through researching countries and positions on international issues.
Students will create research binders to assist them in the process.
Students will learn how to use legitimate sources for their research.

Analytical Writing
Gained in writing position papers, statements, and resolutions.
Students will learn formal, concise writing skills.

Leadership Skills
Gained though representing countries in committees and chairing committees.
Students will often have to take the lead in a situation with no help from other delegates.

Global Perspective
The entire Model UN process is a holistic global learning experience.
Students will learn about global balances of power and economic interconnectedness. 
Students will learn historical and current international political issue

How to Present Model UN to Universities

When students apply to universities it will be important to highlight each of these skills. More important will be to present them in a way to highlight how these skills are different from the typical applicant. Every student that applies to college, if they hope to get in, will have basically the same things in their application; they made good grades, they will give their SAT or ACT scores, and they will list their activities. College admissions counselors sift through hundreds of applications a day. They see the same things listed in application after application. More people than ever are applying to college now. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, for the Fall of 2017, 20.4 million students applied to colleges, up from 5.1 million in 2000. That is a huge increase and it only means more competition for today’s youth.

What makes Model UN students stand out?

Here are some things Model UN students should highlight in their applications to colleges.

Knowledge and understanding of global affairs and issues
Not many activities in high school give students an understanding of international relations. Model UN is unique in that it engages so many skills with global understanding. Colleges and universities want to produce students that are competitive after graduation.

Knowledge of negotiations, specifically negotiations with other cultures
Negotiating is such an important skill. Not just for international affairs, but for businesses and the academic community as well. No matter what you choose to do in their future, they will benefit from the negotiating skills they learn in Model UN. Colleges will like this as well. 

Committee leadership and Conference Leadership
Colleges and universities always list leadership skills at the top of what they are looking for in potential students. Model UN gives plenty of leadership opportunities. Returning delegates may be provided the opportunity to chair a committee within the conference. They could even be selected to a higher leadership position.
Even if you don’t get to chair a committee, simply being a delegate involves leadership. Whether they are spearheading a working paper or resolution, taking charge on a topic of debate, or speaking for their country, Model UN provides plenty of leadership opportunities. 

Public Speaking/Communication
In college, Public Speaking is a required class for most majors and students usually struggle with it.
Clean communication skills will help with college applications and entrance interviews if they are required.



This article from the College Board says that admissions counselors are not looking for the number of activities students participated in, but rather what they learned and how they have grown from the ones they were in. In other words, quality over quantity. Not many students can say they learned the finer points of international negotiations, created solutions to global problems, or chaired a committee session. This is why you should present your Model UN experience in a way the shows what your learned and how in changed you for the better.

The last two decades have seen globalization on a massive scale. If you’ve read Thomas Friedman’s, The World is Flat, then you know the economy is globally interconnected and barriers to communication have been broken down. Global understanding is important. Colleges and universities know that they must produce students that can compete, not only with students in their home countries, but with the entire global population. Now more than ever is it important for students to understand how what happens in one part of the world affects every other part. There are many advances to be made that will increase this global connection. Facebook and Google are working to bring internet to the billions who still don’t have it. This will only increase the need for highly skilled, globally literate students for the future. Model UN will have you well on the way to this coming world and colleges will recognize that.

Model UN offers you skills you wouldn’t otherwise gain in a high school setting and gives a great opportunity to display these skills when applying to colleges. Students that participate in Model UN become global students with the leadership and communication skills that colleges are looking for. Practice makes perfect. Make sure your present your Model UN experiences casually and confidently. What may have started as a hobby or skills building for you might be the very thing to set you on the path to a future full of many more opportunities. Class dismissed.

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