DECA provides student enrichment

Kelly Lu, Staff Writer

`DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is a large international nonprofit organization that has more than 1 million members in the U.S. It educates students about business, marketing, entrepreneurship, hospitality, and competition. With 50+ categories to compete in, it hosts regional, state, and international competitions. Illinois DECA hosts its regional and state competitions in Chicago, and the international event is in Orlando. What you do in competition depends on what category you choose, but ultimately, you learn much about your category of choice. There are many benefits in general to joining DECA, and here is a list of just a few of them.

1. Variability

No matter what your personal interests are, DECA has something you can engage and hopefully be interested in. If you like sports, you can do a Sports Marketing event, and if you like fashion, you can write and present an Independent Business Plan or something similar for a fashion company and learn much about the industry through research that is required for written events or roleplays.

2. Communication benefits

Roleplays are a great way to improve one’s professional communication skills. In roleplays, which must be done in every event no matter the category, you get a piece of paper that explains to you a scenario that you must act in. It lists target points to focus on and provides any statistics that are relevant. You receive 10 minutes if you are on your own or 30 minutes if you have a partner to write down any notes you need during the roleplay. Then, you sit in front of a judge and play the role you are given for 15 minutes, discussing your ideas as if you are in a professional business setting.  The judge evaluates you based on your ability to hit the target check points and how smoothly and clearly you present your ideas. Depending on your category, you can get real experience talking to an investor, a financial client, or employees. This gives you great experience in dealing with real-world encounters. DECA does have direct, multiple-choice paper tests you must do, but it is just as much about hands-on learning.

3. Social benefits

As previously mentioned, DECA has over 1 million members. Illinois DECA has 3,500 members. Attending competitions, especially during State where you stay at a hotel with all the other state contenders for three days, you can meet many new friends. There is also a reception dinner and a fun dance on the second night that gives an opportunity for people of different chapters to interact – especially because DECA members do tend to be very extroverted and friendly. 

4. College benefits

Succeeding in DECA looks good on resumes and college applications, especially if you place in State or are an officer of your chapter. This is because DECA is a very innovative, hands-on focused organization; members get experience in several types of learning including textbook-learning and learn much about their desired category, which is respected by colleges. Also, DECA directly offers scholarships to people who place well in State and IDDC (Internationals).

5. Fulfillment

Not only is DECA a club that can help you learn much about business and your desired industry, but chapters also often participate in community events, fundraisers, and volunteer work that help the local community. Some chapters even have extravagant events such as fashion shows to raise money for supported causes. Engaging in these types of activities during high school can give you fulfillment and give a spark to your daily life.

DECA is a large international organization with many members; J.H.S. has its own chapter and it is the only one in central Illinois; most are in the Chicago area. To increase your knowledge in your personal interests, grow your professional communication skills, reap social benefits, and also get great college benefits, consider joining your local DECA chapter.