Top 5 Differences Between Collegiate DECA & High School DECA ICDC

Graduated from the class of 2012 in the Marketing & Hospitality Program.

“In 1992, the history of Collegiate DECA in Nevada was ended. It was also incomplete.

It wasn’t until 2012 when the history was reopened a chapter was formed at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and its history began again. The efforts to restart Collegiate DECA in both cities came from a group of determined high school DECA alumni. Two of the co-founders for UNLV came from East Tech (Nicky and Randy Huynh).

2012 was a great year for a new chapter in UNLV DECA, but it wasn’t until 2013 when UNLV DECA attended its first International Career Development Conference (ICDC). When we set foot in Washington D.C. from a red-eye flight, everything I knew from my past experience attending ICDC as a high school senior changed. Here are the top five differences you’ll notice if you join a Collegiate DECA chapter (specifically in Nevada) and compete at ICDC.


One of the first questions any new Collegiate DECA member with a high school DECA career asks is, “What is the cost of going to ICDC?” My response is an average of $400 – $500. A shocked look comes over their face at how inexpensive it is going to Collegiate ICDC when they paid maybe $1,000 to attend high school ICDC. While the cost estimates are rough, most of the funding comes from a Collegiate DECA chapter’s pursuit of campus funding either from student government or the individual colleges in a university. It also helps when a Collegiate DECA chapter hosts fundraisers that bring in large amounts of funding.


When you scroll through the Collegiate DECA competitive events, you’ll see various changes with some events the same as high school DECA. In Collegiate DECA, there are two new options for competitive events. The first is case studies that take a longer amount of time. You also have the opportunity to use a laptop for your presentation, but Internet access is not allowed. The other option is competing in various institutions such as the Culinary Management Institution. At the Culinary Management Institution, teams are required to come up with a dish under a budget and cook it in a certain amount of time. There is also a case study the team is required to complete as well.

There are also a variety of way of competing outside of competitive events. There’s the leadership passport which is a various list of tasks to complete before the March 1st deadline and you are awarded with a plaque on stage at ICDC. There is also the Entrepreneurship Challenge at ICDC that offers a cash prize.


At high school ICDC, you see perhaps more than 10,000 attendees. At the Collegiate Level, there’s about 2,000 attendees. What lacks in size does not lack in the same excitement. Everyone is there not only to compete, but meet various people from around the world. My chapter had the opportunity to meet with a delegation from China and yes, Canada is still there, but not a huge contender like in high school.


Perhaps the most shocking element is competing against people who might be twice your age. This is where the competition gets serious. At Collegiate DECA ICDC, the competitors come to the table with a wide variety of experience. You may find yourself competing against someone who has ten more years of experience in marketing than you. While it may sound nerve racking, it’s also a huge accomplishment when you find yourself on stage awarded a medal.


Remember those nerve wrecking moments after competing and having to wait until the next morning to know if you made it to finals? You can stop worrying in the Collegiate DECA world. After everyone has competed in a category, there is a certain time where all competitors come back to meet with the judges. The judges give very vague comments about what they liked and what could be improved. From this feedback, you can figure out whether or not you made it to finals.

As of January 2016, a Collegiate DECA chapter is almost being formed at the College of Southern Nevada. In Reno, communication has gone cold and it is assumed the chapter has disbanded. UNLV continues to keep strong in Nevada. If you have questions about Collegiate DECA or joining UNLV DECA, please feel free to reach out to me at

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIN
  • Pinterest