3 Ways to Compete in College

Feb 1, 2024

College is your chance to thrive, not only through learning new skills and experiencing new views but also by tapping into the community around you. It’s the perfect place to find like-minded people eager to flex their skills with some healthy competition. But how do you compete?

Option 1: Let Faculty Connect You

Many professors encourage students to participate in local, regional and national competitions — sometimes even for course credit — and are available to coach and mentor them.

For instance, in Fall 2023, Johnson & Wales University faculty prepared five JWU business students to participate in the Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition (NISC). In this tournament, students can meet company representatives, learn from each other and launch successful careers. Each NISC competitor completed a 10-minute sales pitch of a fictional company and was evaluated on their sales and communication skills.

Finance major Alex Coutcher ’25 credited JWU’s business program with preparing him to reach NISC’s semi-finals.

“First off, our coaches did an amazing job preparing the entire team. Beyond taking time out of their busy schedules to help us practice, they used connections and resources to get the team more insight into the competition. We used a virtual reality practice simulator that helped the team understand the environment we'd be going into. We also reached out to professionals in the sales industry to get valuable advice on the correct ways to sell. Overall, I felt extremely prepared to compete thanks to JWU’s help.” - Coutcher

Advertising & Marketing Communications major Caroline Kornberg ’25 also attributed her strong performance at NISC to her supportive college environment.

“JWU played a crucial role in my preparation for this competition. Our team convened under the guidance of our coaches, meeting weekly to delve into the competition criteria. Our sessions involved role-playing exercises and case study analysis, equipping us with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the competition.” - Kornberg

Marketing major Aiden Annino ’24, who also made it to the semifinals, used provided information about one judge’s start-up travel bag company to tailor the services his fictional company, Insight Global, would provide to satisfy buyers’ needs.

“NISC was my first in-person sales competition, but I still felt prepared going into it thanks to the opportunities I had previously. Apart from in-class experience, our coaches were very helpful and supportive throughout the whole process. We had a great team of students and faculty working on this, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to build new connections and step out of my comfort zone." - Annino

Option 2: Create Your Own Competitions

Students are always encouraged to create their own clubs, organizations and events such as competitions. In Fall 2023, three JWU students did just that — creating CyberPaw, a capture-the-flag style competition testing students’ hacking and security skills.

Jordan Limor ’24, Andrew Bugera ’24 and Christopher Lorme ’24 planned, designed and built challenges for the game, which drew 55 competitors among JWU’s Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Cyber Threat Intelligence & Defense programs.

An exercise in computer security, CyberPaw challenged participants to find hidden text strings (“flags”) in a simulated environment. The various challenges covered cryptography, steganography, binary, web and pwn.

“We wanted to run this competition to help underclassmen better their coding skills and give them practice for the real world,” - Christopher

The trio got help from JWU’s collaborative community, including a team of Graphic Design students who developed the branding and created a logo and graphics to help advertise the competition. The team’s faculty advisor mentored students when they ran into challenges.

“Professor Chavis helped us with logistics, funding and talking to other professors to get students to sign up. I don’t think we would have had this opportunity at a larger school,” - Jordan

After learning about the project, JWU faculty even offered extra credit to students for completing challenges that matched with course learning objectives.

Option 3: Pursue DECA at the Collegiate Level

An impressive 19% of JWU’s student body participated in student organizations such as DECA in high school, and many remain active at the collegiate level. JWU has been recognized by DECA’s National Advisory Board for more than 40 years for faculty and staff’s involvement and support of student organizations, and these caring mentors will continue to coach and connect emerging leaders and encourage healthy competition among students. DECA’s collegiate events help empower JWU’s business, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, and hospitality management students and grow their networks and skills.


Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University is internationally renowned for its strength in experiential education, and for its active engagement in DECA. We attract hundreds of high school DECA students each year who are looking to continue their affiliation in college to further their professional development, build their résumés and deepen their leadership skills.

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