Something New – FIRST Dean’s List Changes

Blog Date: 
Friday, September 20, 2013 - 13:37

We’ve got some important changes to the FIRST Dean’s List process for the 2014 Season.

It’s important that students being selected for FIRST Dean’s List be able to take full advantage of their selection.   We want these students to be able to list their selection for this prestigious award on their college applications, and we want their selection to motivate them to even greater accomplishments with their teams through the following seasons.  For these reasons, while in the past, teams could nominate any high school student on their teams for FIRST Dean’s List, starting in the 2014 season, nominations will be restricted to Sophomores and Juniors.

Also, the feedback we’ve received has indicated that it’s very hard to pick FIRST Dean’s List Finalists from the written submissions alone.  So, as a pilot for the 2014 Season, we’re introducing an interview component to the selection process.  All FIRST Dean’s List nominees at Regionals will participate in brief interviews with a panel of judges at the event.  For Districts, as no Finalists are selected at the District competition level, nominees will participate in brief interviews at the District/State Championship level where their selection takes place.  Interviews will not take place at the FIRST Championship level, because of the because of the number of individuals that would need to be interviewed.  However, the judges selecting the FIRST Dean’s List Winners at the FIRST Championship will have access to interview notes from the earlier interviews that took place when the Finalists were selected. 

Another advantage of these interviews is that it will give all nominees an additional challenging experience at events.  As I’ve said before in this blog, I believe people grow when they’re given something to push against.  All nominees, along with those selected as Finalists, will receive feedback on their interviews from the judges.

FIRST Dean’s List nominees will not need to prepare any kind of presentation for the interview, and interviews will last no more than five minutes.  We’re working through additional details at this time.

I want to emphasize that this is a pilot for the 2014 Season.  As well as stretching our nominees, this will also stretch our judging and space resources, and there’s a chance we may find that the cost of this change is not worth the benefits we receive.


I’ll blog again soon.



Can you provide more details how DL will work at the District level? If a team nominates a DL but the team does not advance to District CMP, does the DL nominee go to District CMP for interview? How many DL finalists will be announced at the District CMP?

How do you expect to handle judging of entrants from teams that do not advance to their district championship? Are those students still eligible? Will they be expected to attend without their team?

Additionally, will the district championships present this award to more than two students?


While I'm glad that FIRST is trying changes in the ways of selecting the 2014 Dean's List, I have reservations in the fact in the restriction to sophomores & juniors. As a Dean's List Winner myself, I can say I understand the intent; but I can't say I agree. But then again, this could bring some new developments to the award that we could never have imagined in the realm of college & university relations, or opportunities to future DL finalists & winners. My final thought: let's see where this goes.

I have to agree with you on the grade restrictions Kyle, I think that any member on a FIRST team should have an opportunity to be nominated, no matter what grade in high school.

While I understand the explanation for this change - it is unfair to seniors on teams like mine, who typically reserve this honor for seniors. My team made it's first nominations last year, and nominated two seniors. If our team could have nominated a third candidate, it would have been a senior as well. As a result, four seniors on my current team are now eliminated from consideration. While this is obviously the direction FIRST wishes to take with this award, it should have been announced a year ahead of the change so that no team members were left out of contention.

So my team told me last week they were submitting me for the deans list award. And now they can't because I' m a senior. Well that's great. I like the idea being put in place, but maybe it should be waited until 2015 because most of the nominees this year will most likely be seniors who will no longer get the chance.

I believe this is what happened to my team this year as well and it is quite upsetting.

Some of us can remember when this award was first announced, it was done in a rushed and hasty manner and it affected the first year it existed. I feel this is more of the same. While it has always been FIRST's intent to use this as a resume builder for college, that is not how some teams have been using it. Let the teams decide who they nominate, if they want a junior, they would pick a junior. If nothing else, please consider implementing this change next year, so that teams can adjust their procedures, instead of having some students be unfairly (in my opinion) passed over this year.

FIRST has alienated a whole group of seniors this year by making them ineligible to be Dean's List nominees. The most deserving students should receive this honor no matter what grade they are in. Teams should have been given a warning about this change so they can make better nomination decisions. I have been really impressed with many of the changes FIRST has made, but this one fell short.

Why should the seniors be excluded? For people who have been in for four years and have been nominated and are absolutely qualified, why take them out because they have been in longer and are about to go to college? If it is because you want them to be able to put it on applications for college think about it like this: it is worth much more than just a bullet point on a resume. For many people, including myself, it is something that I would keep with me for my entire life. It means a lot to the students just to be nominated; why take that away from those that have only one more opportunity?

I very much agree with a number of the posts above. As a deans list nominee last year, my senior year, I have to say that while the practical value of the award "on the resume" may not be there in time for a senior applying to post-secondary, it can most certainly go towards jobs and scholarships.
Being nominated for the deans list is also an honor, an honor that often times should go to senior students who have poured multiple years into building the team up. It's a huge honor, and while I understand the intent, I politely disagree.

Big kudos on the interview process though!

I whole-heartedly agree with the comments above. To totally eliminate and isolate an entire class of seniors is very saddening to hear. I do not understand why FIRST would want to isolate an entire class of students with this change. It sends a message that they do not matter. I do not think that this is the message that FIRST wants to send to these hard working individuals and tell them their hard work was unappreciated. Limiting this to Seniors and Juniors would have been a better solution to this change and to gradually move to sophomores and juniors.

Would you be kind enough to explain in terms of ages or school degrees who is designated as sophomore and junior. We obviously have a different educational system up here (Quebec). Thanks.

That would be great. I am from Brazil, and we have different educational system too, just waiting for more informations

Sophomores are 10th grade and Juniors are 11th grade students, sophomores are in their second year of high school out of four, and juniors are in their third high school year out of four. Sophomores are typically 15 or 16 years old and juniors are typically 16 or 17 years old

FIRST over the years has made many good decisions to benefit the program, but unfortunately I do not think the grade restriction on Dean's list falls under that same category of good changes. There are many seniors this year who have been involved whole-heartedly in FIRST for four years of high school, dedicating time and effort toward their team, school, community, and education. Many of these students are just as deserving of nomination as a sophomore/junior, maybe in some cases more, and I don't think the ability to put this honor on a college app in a big enough reason to for restriction.

This is probably a step in the right direction, but it really ignores the class of 2014!

If teams have previously reserved submission for seniors only, the students that are currently seniors may have never had an opportunity to be nominated. Those other grades will not be affected as much, but this seriously limits the current seniors.

My team has never submitted for the award, but I was hoping to start applying for the Dean's List this year. We have a lot of great students from the class 0f 2014 who have impacted our team incredibly, and I believe everyone should have a chance. Thanks.

A simple one year warning of this change would have made it minimally acceptable. Two or three years even better. I see below that all comments should embody Gracious Professionalism. Well, that should start with the post at the top. Dismissing an entire class of FIRST students, without proper preparation, is neither gracious nor professional.

Teams should be free to select the best nominees without restrictions. If FIRST wants to restrict nominees to underclassmen, then it should give fair warning. Making this year's seniors ineligible is totally unfair to them. It should be implemented in 2015, not 2014.

This year's seniors, (myself included) have been with this team since it started. There are a collection of 5 individuals who have been the only constant thing on the team. We have had a different set of mentors each year and have been constantly moving from place to place and working with different teachers. Last year's mentors thought that only seniors should be even nominated for Deans List, which I was hurt by, but understanding of. But now the ones who have been the driving force on the team are not eligible to be recognized.

This just hurts the seniors morale on the team.

As Engineering Mentor for an FRC Team that started 3 years ago, the high school teacher and other mentors have only considered Juniors in nominations for FIRST Dean's List Semi-Finalists. To us it was clear in their written criteria. To quote FRC, "Teams nominating students as FIRST Dean’s List Semi-Finalists should note that colleges and universities are extremely interested in recruiting FIRST Dean’s List Award students and accordingly, FIRST strongly urges teams to nominate a student in his or her junior year as a FIRST Dean’s List Semi-Finalist. (Quoted text was bolded and underlined.)"

As a continuation of my previous comments (limited 600 char.), the high school teacher and mentors knew the importance of only considering Juniors in nominations for FIRST Dean's List Semi-Finalists. To us it was clear in their written criteria. To further quote FRC, “While FIRST judges will consider any student nominated by their team as a FIRST Dean’s List Semi-Finalist, this year (2011) judges will give preference to students in their junior year when they make their selections to maximize the impact of the FIRST Dean’s List Award for students and colleges/universities supporting FIRST.”

Many students have waited for the opportunity to be submitted for Dean's List. I think this is unfair to the hard working kids who have waited in the shadows of others for the last few years. I understand the intention of FIRST, but I think the human factor has been left out. A change to the Dean's List should be announced far enough ahead to allow all high achieving students the opportunity to be submitted for such a coveted award. Please reconsider the timing of this change, for the students who have given years of hard work to FIRST.

Robert, this original announcement was modified later based on community feedback. See the changes here:

I am an FLL coach and have had an amazing, hard working dedicated mentor for the past 3 years who I'd like to nominate for the Dean's List. Her RFC coach does not do nominations and I feel she is well deserving of the opportunity. Is this possible?

Coming from a team that was founded last season by a Junior and a Sophomore right before kick-off, we barely knew what we were doing. Our team's school advisor was awesome and hit the ground running. We won the Regional Rookie All-Star Award and miraculously raised enough to get our team to St. Louis where we took the Rookie Inspiration Award. Great season, great experience! At the end of the season, we started to really read all we could about programs and awards within FIRST. Sad that the remaining student who founded our team is ineligible to be nominated.

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