Many a student have thought about joining the Duke of Edinburgh awards, but what exactly is it, and is it worth its rep?

The DofE awards are an international youth awards program founded in the UK, but now spanning an international stage. There are three levels to the award available to 14-25-year olds, ranking Bronze, Silver and Gold which increase in difficulty and personal commitment the higher up you aim. The award is based on self-improvement and combines a range of key skills needed to pass it that are very useful in the ‘real world’ such as determination for self-improvement, organisation and time management skills, and a pro-active attitude to bettering one’s self though individual and team work.

There are four parts to each award, with the amount of time and effort spent on each part increasing the further up the award ladder you go, you can choose a skill or aim that you hope to attain that corresponds with each ‘parts’ criteria. Usually the parts are on a set rota as you may spend many months on just one area of your reward.

The four parts are:

Volunteering: in which you provide a service to individuals/ your community through a non-profit organisation or volunteering method {such as working at a charity shop, scouting etc}

Physical: where you improve yourself on a physical level, usually by learning or improving upon yourself in a sport, dance or fitness activities. {eg joining a football team, learning a martial art}

Skills: developing practical, personal social skills through your personal interests {such as learning an instrument or language}

Expedition: where you and a group of fellow peers’ plan, train for, and complete an ‘adventurous’ journey in the UK or abroad.

At Gold level, participants must also do an additional fifth Residential section, in which the individual must stay and work away from home for five days, doing a shared activity.

Ania, a 23-year-old Bronze award holder commented about how enriching the experience felt, “it was a lot of fun, there was a lot of chance for interaction with new people and the expedition experience let me live from an interesting new perspective”

“the people who I befriended are my best and closest friends today, and I developed a great love for the outdoors and travelling”

There are many incentives that are present when you think about the pros and cons of DofE.

Due to its international recognition and the positive ‘work ethic’ qualities that it nurtures, it is a really sought after and useful thing to put in your CV or mention when applying for jobs or universities. It shows that you have character and a range of valuable skills at your disposal. It’ll give you a substantial tick box on your application.

 The DofE experience also provides you with many opportunities to improve or work upon your interpersonal skills as you have regular contact with other peers of varying age-ranges and personal views and backgrounds. It means you can branch out socially, and the teamwork necessary to complete the awards also plays a part in helping you build friendships and connections outside your comfort zone.

The awards also have one important factor that is key both in and out of your experience; the determination to self-improve and build upon your skill-set, character and experiences. The DofE awards can help shape you in a way that normal day-to-day life can’t and it’s a valuable learning experience in both physical and emotional ways as it leaves you a more well-rounded and experienced individual.

Some people, however, do claim that winning an award is hard effort as it takes you well beyond your comfort zone and tests the limits of personal control as you work towards a set goal.

Overall, is the Duke of Edinburgh award worth it? Its really up to you and how you perceive it. However, if you’re feeling a bit hesitant about whether it’ll give you anything, definitely give it a chance and pursue you dreams determinedly. As well as giving a substantial boost in the job-searching department and helping you develop a new skill range, it helps you exercise and keep healthy due to all the physical demands. You can build new lifelong friends and connections and ultimately decide what to do with your free time effectively.