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Is AMC 12 School Winner a school or national recognition?
Although you only compete against people from your own school, it's an official national recognition. Furthermore, I've always thought of school awards as those lame departmental awards teachers give out to their pets. Wouldn't inexperienced adcoms think the same?
Likewise, is USNCO semifinalist (national exam qualifier) a local or national award? It is a nationally given recognition even though it is a locally administered exam in which you only compete against people from your local section?
The reason this even matters, of course, is because on the common app/MIT app, you have to classify your awards as school, local, regional, state, or national. Any thoughts about which bubble to pick? Considering that in any given school that has more than one AIME qualifier, being school winner is better than AIME, wouldn't you feel a little ripped off if you had to classify it as a school award, while AIME itself is a national award?
Sure this may be a somewhat pointless argument as any experienced adcom would know what AMC School Winner and USNCO Semifinalist are, but sometimes perception is more important than reality, no? Why is a 2400 better than 2390? Why do people hide/don't report AP test scores when they aren't 5's? Therein lies a perception of perfection. Likewise, there's just something outstanding about an applicant with multiple national awards, wouldn't you say?