For me, there are four main benefits of the National Cyber League.
NCL uses learning objectives based on industry-recognized certifications: CompTIA Security+ and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). It measures skills in industry-specific tasks such as Open Source Intelligence, Password Cracking, Log Analysis, and more.
With the only eligibility requirement being that the player is enrolled in a high school or collegiate institution, the NCL has so many eligible competitors. It’s relatively affordable costing only $25 per player for the individual competition (preseason and regular season) and $10 for the postseason team competition. Even better, you can compete from the comfort of your own home through their online portal, Cyber Skyline. (Pro tip: You can totally compete in pajamas!)
With clearly labeled challenge categories and difficulty levels (Easy, Medium, and Hard), a first-time player can easily navigate the competition environment and test their hand at a variety of skills. Additionally, the easy challenges are designed for students who are new to InfoSec! Additionally, you are given multiple attempts for each question and immediate feedback on your accuracy. If I can capture a few flags as a fresh transfer from a theatre undergrad, you can definitely capture a few, too!
NCL uses real-world scenarios to test your skills at industry-relevant challenges. Not only does NCL test your skill, but it provides a comprehensive scouting report to each competitor at the end of each season. Top tech companies sponsor NCL at varies amounts to see a top performing scouting reports. Additionally, you can incorporate your experience and scouting report into your resume and cover letter. (I can honestly say I have never been to an interview where I was not asked about my NCL experience!)