Now is the perfect time to start preparing for the 2018 (yes, 2018) National Council of Excellence (NCOE) award—especially if you have yet to challenge your council to strive for this recognition. The award year runs January through December to give the award committee the full scope of your council’s operation over a school year. 

For the uninitiated, the application process may appear intimidating, but many advisers who have done it say that it was the most worthwhile exercise their council had undertaken. Building a portfolio (or “brag book”) brought to light their council’s strengths and weaknesses, while the sign-off process allowed for unprecedented visibility with their principal.

Here are some tips to guide you through the process. 

Download the Application

Review the application at—this will serve as your outline as you collect evidence to document your council’s activities. Even if you’re not planning to apply for the 2018 award, use the application to guide the skills and knowledge your council should be developing and projects it could be tackling. 

Start Building Your Portfolio Now

You’re likely already fulfilling the award criteria by regularly documenting activities (e.g., creating attendance records, minutes, and meeting agendas; archiving records). So, building a portfolio should just be a matter of compiling an ongoing sampling. One of the award’s underlying goals is to help advisers and officers create an NASC standards-based culture of excellence in operations, practices, and activities. If your council isn’t doing these things consistently, start now so it becomes routine.

Create a Login

There’s no need to complete the entire application in one sitting—if you create a login. This allows you to access the application from any computer and enter information along the way. Choose a memorable, sharable password, like your school’s mascot and the award year (e.g., Falcons2018), so students can easily contribute.

Complete Three Service Projects-Including One Supporting the Global Citizenship Initiative

Ideally, all councils are planning projects that support at least one of the strands of the student leadership initiative on global citizenship. To achieve NCOE status, however, it’s a must. Note that all projects submitted for consideration with the award application must satisfy different categories. Three projects should be submitted for the base award; four if applying for Gold status.

Don’t Procrastinate!

Enter your projects in the National Student Project Database early, or you could put your eligibility in jeopardy. Projects must be approved by NASC and published—only published projects count toward the award. If your project is submitted without time for approval, your application could be incomplete.

Pay Attention to Details

Remember to check the box that indicates your project is an NCOE entry! Also, make sure you’ve met the 200-word minimum, included photographs and sufficient data, and labeled your project with the appropriate award year—which is the following calendar year.

Meet With Your Principal

Once your application is complete, meet with your principal and student representatives so the principal can do a full sight-based evaluation of your evidence. If this is your first time applying, he or she will also need to write a letter of recommendation.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Visit for more information. —