The Best Ways to Start Early: DECA and FBLA

Spread throughout the United States and Canada, there are two prominent business, finance, management, and hospitality programs called DECA (Distribute Education Clubs of America) and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) in high school. The collegiate divisions of the two organizations exist, but they are similar in their approach and what they can do to harness your interests in business. The two clubs are prominent in most districts and schools across the country, and should be available at your respective schools. If not, starting a chapter is an easy process. The main websites for DECA (deca.org) and FBLA (fbla.org) are full of rich histories of the organizations, both being founded in the 1940’s. Most likely, there are websites for the subsidiaries for each state, and sometimes district, and can be found by searching online.

Both organizations are competition-focused, where FBLA weighs in more heavily on testing and “book” knowledge of business, finance, management, and hospitality, whereas DECA focuses on events and applying your understanding through real-world situations. Both organizations take tests, but depending on the event you choose, you can avoid tests. There are two types of events- written and role-play, where the preparation depends on which one you choose. If you prefer to write a document or a proposal, the organizations give you that option. If you like working in teams of four or less, then the option is also available. There are chapter events, where entire chapters work on a single goal, often a proposal of some sort. Either way, there are many options to choose from. What varies is your group size, test/no test, written/role-play, field of interest. You may participate in one role-play and one written event, or choose one.

The year for DECA and FBLA follow very similar structures. For now, I’m going to focus on the DECA year, although it is very related to FBLA’s calendar of events. At the beginning of the year, chapter registration and fees are collected. In November, the competition “season” really kicks off, with various online events, like a Stock Market Simulator or a Business Proposal plan. These are all optional, and outside events that are not run in the spring. In mid-November, the Leadership Conference is hosted where chapter officers, and if they permit, interested members in leadership attend the non-competing event where chapters get to know each other and kick off the coming year before competition begins to heat up. Most chapters begin preparing after this event, but some like to start as early as the summer, or even after the immediate end of the previous season, around April. The winners of the online events are announced, and the competition begins to die down as schools finish finals. Then, in the beginning of January, the preliminary competition begins, where local schools in the district compete. Next is the state competition, usually in February/March where students qualify for ICDC, or internationals. Lastly, in April, the international competition is held where winners from their states compete for awards, scholarships, and more.

Getting a chapter started is as easy as visiting their respective websites. For more information, be sure to check out their information. If you already have one at school, check it out. Good luck to your chapter!

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