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How useful is debate?

fakeoutfakeout Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
edited March 2005 in College Admissions
Hi, I'm from Tennessee and me and my buddy do Public Forum Debate together, and have won numerous tournaments and stuff, and we could probably go to Nationals if we have time. How good does this type of thing look on the resume? Could it compensate for low test scores or no?

Post edited by fakeout on

Replies to: How useful is debate?

  • taurustorustaurustorus Registered User Posts: 389 Member
    depends on where you're applying. to top schools, it absolutely won't compensate for low scores. if you're being recruited for debate, though, (but it won't be by top schools unless you're TOC material or are an inner-city kid with regards to debate schools like northwestern) then yes, it might. but you need to be really good at it. as in, you should probably go to nationals to prove how good you are ('coz qualifying from a crappy area doesn't mean anything).
  • minoritymanminorityman Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    how important is debate? VERY IMPORTANT! First off, let me say congratulations on your success as a debater. I too was on the debate team in high school. As a matter of fact, debate was the only extra/co-curricular activity I was engaged in during high school. It got me into every college I applied to (good colleges and universities). I wrote my essay on debate and how it impacted my life.

    Nationals is fantastic. I hope you have a great time. By the way, I was engaged in policy debate during high school.

    In college, you will notice there will be a lot of quiet people in your classes. If you attend a SLAC, you will notice it more than if you were at a huge university. At a SLAC where participation matters (in some classes it can account for as much as 40% of your grade) the skills you learn from debate will play a huge role in your participation. Trust me, I know from experience.

    Colleges love master debaters (lol). Trust me, a lot of your classmates in college were not engaged in debate in high school. Your application to college will be very good if you make it to TOC or just that you are even a debater who has had success and travelled to different parts of the country to debate. It shows you can succeed in another environment, compete, engage in critical debate, are mature and can bring an influx of diverse ideas to the college and student body. Debate is seen as the Smart Sport and trust me the benefits are great. If you are looking for a big debate university, I would suggest Northwestern, NYU, Michigan State, UMichigan (although I heard some things about them not having a debate team this year or something like that), Vanderbilt University, URochester, Emory University, and UCBerkeley. SLAC are mostly known to have Parliamentary debate, which I'm not a fan of.

    Good luck.
  • chocoholicchocoholic Registered User Posts: 2,995 Senior Member
    How good does this type of thing look on the resume?

    Fakeout, do not worry about the resume.

    Congratulations on your success in PF. I do hope that you qualify to go to Philly, and make the time to do it. Debate and Public Forum will first of all develop life skills which not many people acquire, and which will stand you in good stead in the school and college classrooms, in the workplace, and socially. You are learning to be a good speaker and thinker. It is a very demanding and fulfilling extra-curricular activity.

    Stick with it, do it with a passion, and excel for the sake of it. You will find yourself able to write wonderful essays, and getting into great schools. And of course it looks good on the resume ;)

    How low are your test scores, and can you work them up over the summer?
  • mesaboogiemesaboogie Registered User Posts: 218 Junior Member
    I have never been involved with debate, but I can tell you this:
    My dad made debating his life. After his second match/meet/whatever yall call it, he lost twice (I have talked about this with his coach-long story, small world). Once was at some big tournament when they were an hour late, and the other time was at the finals at nationals. He and his partner (supposedly) rocked the other pair, but because of some biased judging, they technically lost. The coach said many people were there to see it (it is nationals...I could hav figured this out) and everyone knew what was going on with the judging. OK end of that.
    He wound up applying to 3 schools: Harvard, Illinois (even tho he had no intention of going and was basically just holding someone else's seat), and a cali LAC that is well known in debating circles. He did not get into Harvard (4.0 1550). So, I really have no idea what goes on with those adcoms (I would have liked to have the legacy edge....erg...haha), but debate apparently didn't do the trick. He says (w/o remorse-he LOVED his college) that there were simply too many middle/upper class, white boys from this area. His theory: geography>EC (and possibly grades, SAT...) but I don't really buy it
    Sorry for rambling
  • kfc4ukfc4u Registered User Posts: 3,415 Senior Member
    fakeout, you want to know something?


    having debate on your paper resume will look good. but quite honestly, from all the skills you've learned over time, you'll be EVEN MORE impressive during that scholarship interview, that college admissions interview, that job interview... everything that requires interpersonal communication and social skills.

    i highly recommend it! because even if its useless on paper later in life, the confidence of public speaking will carry you far in life later on!
  • bogororobogororo Registered User Posts: 538 Member
    I'm not sure how good debate looks on paper - I know that a lot of people take great pride in the activity (me included). But I know that debaters as a group usually rock interviews and are able to be more organized during the whole application process. The most important thing I learned from debate is to be spontaneous, bc. in Parliamentary Debate, or World Schools, you don't have any time to think when giving an answer. That means you have to make connections really fast. It is useless to say how much this skill helped with the SAT II Writing and TOEFL essays where I was just rolling the facts out on paper. Another thing, I was a really shy kid before I started debating - afterwards I lost much of this shyness. It's great to be able to look an interviewer in the eyes!
    The last thing I want to underline is that you will meet lots of great people - I know that in every activity you can do this, but debate seems to have a thing... I've met people of about 25 nationalities and various interests through debate, from the (genial) computer geek to the charming humanities guy to the drop-dead-gorgeus future executive and the list could go on.
  • Mr.BMr.B Registered User Posts: 1,914 Senior Member
    There have been articles stating that Speech and Debate are highly regarded ECs. The interest you show in this activity is intellectual (unless your in it for the food.) The skills you use and develop to succeed include: researching, speaking, listening note taking, and the ability to understand and develop counter ideas to a stated point of view. These are skills that should help you to succeed in school and in the career part of your life.

    I just spent a weekend at Berkeley, judging their invitational and the comradarie of student competitors is great. I have also judged at nationals, but unfortunately this year's Philadelphia event for NFL conflicts with our last week of school.

    Other great ECs that are related are drama, mock-trial and moot court, and newspaper editing.
  • bogororobogororo Registered User Posts: 538 Member
    Hey, has anyone here attended IDEA Youth Forums (particularly Slovenia in 2003) or World Schools Internationals?
  • kfc4ukfc4u Registered User Posts: 3,415 Senior Member
    "Another thing, I was a really shy kid before I started debating - afterwards I lost much of this shyness. It's great to be able to look an interviewer in the eyes!"

    same here, same here. its a great feeling to know how far you've come and how much you've changed
  • fakeoutfakeout Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
    its not like i have bad test scores or anything (1510 SAT old, looking at 2250 on new, all SAT II's above 700, perfect GPA). It's just that I need to stand out because I'm looking at the top universities (Ivies, Duke, MIT, etc.).

  • taurustorustaurustorus Registered User Posts: 389 Member
    well, good job for suggesting otherwise then ("Could it compensate for low test scores or no?"). i do policy debate and am currently in the middle of the whole college process. i don't think it really really makes you stand out unless you're TOC material, but colleges do highly regard it. and the combination of great GPA, high test scores, and debate will def. be favorably looked upon (i dunno how much work public forum involves, but as a policy debater i can say that it takes some serious skill to prep tourneys like crazy and still keep up the grades).
  • choffchoff Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    Hey Mr. B, my S was just out to the Berkeley tournament, made it to finals in Congress and had an absolutely wonderful time. He's asking about debate programs at the colleges he's applied to, but not sure how many have something, plus it seems a lot of it is policy. Given his love for Congress, wouldn't Model UN be closer as something to explore, if interested?
  • RaspberrySmoothieRaspberrySmoothie Registered User Posts: 693 Member
    The general rule is: pretty much any school EC is good if you go far with it (like nationals). Last year, our debate board went to Yale, Wellesley, Uchicago, Huntsman (at Penn) and Dartmouth. This year, so far kids have been accepted to Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Penn, and Dartmouth.


    ps- nah, doesn't work as well for me
This discussion has been closed.