Student Recognition Programs

Programs that only publish student names in publications usually titled “who’s who,” “distinguished,” “outstanding,” or the like do not fall within the definition of a contest or activity and, therefore, are not reviewed by the committee. However, NASSP does recognize that these publications exist and the students’ and their parents’ right to make the determination to participate in these programs.

To assist principals, parents, and students in evaluating these programs, the following guidelines should be considered:

  • Individual fees or dues should be minimal, applying only to the processing of scholarship applications, and should be clearly stated as such in all program materials.
  • The source of the referral should be specifically stated in program publications and correspondence.
  • Programs should seek written verification from authorized local school officials of students’ school-related achievements and activities.
  • Programs must not imply that recognition is automatically a major consideration of college admissions, but rather is only one of many potential reference sources.
  • Programs must not engage in the sale, rental, or sharing of student lists, nor publish home addresses without the express written permission of the student’s parents.
  • Programs should maintain a policy of providing refunds for any unsatisfactory product or service marketed.
  • Programs should make available to any person requesting a list of the names of those who received awards.
  • The basis for awarding any scholarships as part of the program should be clearly stated, including numbers, amounts, and funding methods.
  • Programs shall respond to all inquiries, complaints, and requests for background information on the program in a timely manner.
  • Unless sponsored by a governmental entity, programs should not use a program title implying a connection with the federal or state government without a disclaimer prominently included in the literature.
  • Programs should maintain an external advisory council for the purpose of reviewing the program and making recommendations.

As with any program or activity being considered, students and parents are urged to be aware of the exact nature of recognition programs and of the role such programs may play in the college admissions process. School personnel are urged to be aware of the exact nature of recognition programs and to alert students to the possible costs of participation and to be cautious concerning the use of student lists and personal information.