Making the Transition: High-school to College MUN
As a current senior in high school, I'm often asked about my future college plans. I tell my friends about the normal things, like what I want to major in, where I'm going, if I want to go to grad school/law school, but many are surprised when Model UN is mentioned. After participating in the high school circuit, they would suppose that I'm worn out but somehow I never got tired of Model UN. My Model UN advisor was supportive of me participating on the collegiate level, but her warned me that things would be much different from the arena I've faced so often.
After consulting multiple friends from various schools, I sense mixed messages about the college circuit of Model UN as a whole. The only commonality I can find amongst the many responses is this: while many people take it less seriously than in high school, the competition is five times what you've seen. Needless to say, it was a bit intimidating. So I wanted to open this thread to anyone in the college circuit who may have some friendly words of advice for any future college MUN-ers.
I know that in college MUN, a lot of delegates didn't participate in high school MUN and may be there because they're studying political science or international affairs for a degree, or may just have an interest in world affairs and debate. Regardless, college kids are smart and often more politics-savvy than the average high school student... or it at least seems that way! And of course some schools take MUN more seriously than others, as a high school delegate I can say I'm used to that.
So what are your opinions? Do you think college MUN is completely different from high school MUN? Is it an eye-opening experience, and what advice can you offer to any high school students who are interested in college Model UN?
I really appreciate what you have brought to Best Delegate forums because I am also a student in High School: a Junior luckily. However, MUN has captivated me in so many different ways that I am seeking to make MUN a lifestyle not a high school program I could just put in a college application. As of right now I am also wondering how in college MUN it could help me relay my career path and perhaps even move further into the world of Model United Nations. What I would really like to know is how will high school students plan college MUN for their career path and what universities I could apply to, so that universities and college research will be abundantly more clear. Thanks APIAZZA
Having recently made the MUN transition from High School to the College, I would like to offer some of my experience and advice to those who are wondering as to what they should expect.
First of all, every delegate preparing themselves to enter the collegiate circuit should realize that they are making a huge transition in their MUN career. This is primarily due to the college environment being completely different than that of High School. It's like entering into your first crisis committee; you can prepare for weeks and study for countless hours, however, you'll never be able to predict every crisis or control how each delegate will react. With that in mind, when you enter into the new circuit, try not to focus on how your High School ran its MUN team, instead, come in with an open mind. After all, you will be convening and competing with new people, ideas and philosophies. Unless your entire graduating class plans to attend the University that you are attending, do not expect your collegiate experience to be the same. Also, you will meet a plethora of people who have never done experienced MUN before. They will be within your club and at the conferences you attend. My advice for you: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THESE PEOPLE. I was surprised on countless occasions that the delegates who were competing for the top three spots in committee were delegates who had little or no MUN experience. Remember, these delegates might be new, but they are intelligent. You were also a beginner once, and if you became a successful delegate then it’s obviously possible for other people to become successful.
Second, the success you experienced on the high school circuit does not necessarily equate to success on the colligate circuit. The seven gavels and numerous accolades you received during your High School career are awesome; however, the collegiate circuit will not pander on your success in High School. Also, the collegiate circuit will have, if your school is fortunate enough to attend the appropriate conferences, some of the most intelligent and competitive individuals that your generation has to offer. Standing up in committee and giving a loud and confident speech about why the Security Council needs to send Peacekeepers to an emerging conflict is cool. However, if your argument is not sound, you will find that other delegates with much more experience than you have will easily be able to pick apart your argument. This is because the delegates in your committee will range from freshman to seniors; and even though watching the news a few times a week made you the current event buff of your high school, it is no comparison to taking courses that give in-depth explanations of international, humanitarian and economic concepts.
Furthermore, as important as it is to study your committee’s topics, it will also be important to be a sociable and approachable. To be blunt, power delegates are often confident and driven, but, lack the charisma to attract other people. In a circuit where the delegates are very intelligent, it is essential to gain support by being sociable and welcoming. I would argue that being successful on the collegiate level depends equally on your preparation (researching, speaking skills and ideas) as well as your social skills (ability to form groups, likability and how to turn the switch from professional-talk to small-talk).
When looking back at my freshman year on the college circuit, I often remember myself making the mistake of assuming that everything I enjoyed about my High School MUN team would transfer over to the University level. Just because I had positions of power during my High School career and I had been successful as a delegate did not mean that I automatically had the respect from the upperclassmen of my University. To be noticed, I had to be successful and I had to make the effort to get to know the leaders of my University’s club. Not having the crutch of knowing every person in the club was definitely weird because after establishing who I was as a person and a delegate during my high school career, I had to go through the same exact process in college.
The transition from High School to College MUN is an exciting process. However, like everything in life, ultimately, what you get out of it is what you put into it. To accomplish your goals, you have to be willing to push yourself to achieve them.
TL;DR: Expect the unexpected by making the transition with an open mind, the college circuit requires a different set of skills, carve your own destiny to make the most of your college MUN experience.
Edit: made some grammar and spelling checks
Last edited by akal; 04-22-2012 at 02:42 PM.
Great response and reflection by Akal. I wanted to briefly add a few more based on my personal experience:
1. Resolutions are more constrained by being realistic. The largest conferences may still have long resolutions due to merging, but I've found that at most of the mid-sized and smaller conferences, the resolutions were rarely longer than 10 operative clauses. It's much less common to see the 30+ operative clauses -- many of which were creative but not entirely realistic -- that were done in high school.
2. If you're competing on what BestDelegate.com calls the "World Division" circuit, then you'll be doing crisis for most of your collegiate MUN career, and crisis committees require a different set of skills: interpersonal communication as opposed to mass communication, ability to distill thematic tensions, understanding of portfolio powers, balancing group decision-making vs. individual decision-making, ability to manipulate debate or flow of crisis events, participating more frequently, adapting to new info instead of relying only on research, ability to analyze the impact and importance of a crisis update, etc.
3. Power delegate tactics only get one so far because of repeated interaction as many will learn from their intro to game theory class. A power delegate could get away with non-diplomatic tactics in high school because they'd only see the competition once and didn't have to work with a particular delegate again on their way to winning. The college circuit is much smaller and you will see the same schools and delegates multiple times a year. If you screwed over a delegate once, then you could develop a negative reputation and others may not want to cooperate with you in the future.
4. There's a lot more networking and personal interaction on the college circuit. Everyone introduces themselves by their personal names. In high school, students were taught to never use personal names because they were being trained to be in character of their country. But in college, everyone understands that already and recognizes the benefits of establishing professional and social relationships with other schools/delegates.
5. Lastly, some decide to never make the transition as delegates. That is, they became no longer interested in participating as delegates but still stay involved by participating as staffers. Keep in mind that you will now have many more opportunities to staff conferences either hosted by your school or by other non-profit organizations and to take advantage of this aspect of Model UN.
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