If you have ever competed at National History Day (NHD) or been part of an NHD competition, you have likely heard the saying “it’s not just a day… it’s an experience” amongst other NHD competitors, teachers, and families. Guess what! They’re right. After competing in NHD for six years and now looking back as a college student on my experience, I’ve realized just how important my experience with NHD was. It taught me how to do research, speak to professionals, and defend my research. You don’t realize it while you’re young, but those skills are invaluable and you’ll use them all throughout your life. On the other hand, competitors all know how strenuous preparation for the big competitions can be. From the research to the presentations and interviews, students go through a lot before competition day. Here are 10 experiences that all NHD competitors have had.
1. Coming up with a topic
Each year the theme of the competition changes, and we all want to come up with a topic that will knock the judges NHD socks off... but that's not always the easiest thing to do...
2. Beginning your research
If you've competed in NHD multiple times, you've pretty much got this whole research thing down. However, all of us still experience that overwhelming feeling when we have to figure out where to begin our research in order to begin creating our masterpiece.
3. Finding sources that are exactly what you need
Is there really anything better than finding a source that will be perfect for your research and will help you further develop your project? I think not.
4. Figuring out a thesis statement
This was one of the most difficult parts of the project for me, but it totally paid off and aided me in the development of my project once I figured it out!
5. Coming up with a title that will really WOW your judges
We all know how it feels to write that title down with the knowledge that it's absolutely amazing and fits your topic perfectly. Hint -- For those of you that don't, see the image below:
6. Finally finishing your process paper and all of the annotations for your bibliography
You're relieved that it's over and you hope that everything is right, but you know that you'll end up having to do more work on it at some point. Ah, the joys of academic writing.
7. Looking at your project's time on the competition schedule
Let the stressing and pacing commence.
8. The moment you finish presenting your project
...and you know that you totally rocked it!
9. Waiting for runoffs to be posted or the award ceremony to begin
The anticipation only builds while you wait for your category and division to be called.
10. That moment when your hard work pays off and you feel like a rockstar
Whether you win or lose, you know that you did your best and you have a project that you can be proud of!