Better Grades. Research indicates that speech and debate participation develops skills in communication and critical thinking. This typically coincides with higher grades across the curriculum. Speech and debate students also tend to score higher on standardized tests including the SAT and ACT.
College Admission. According to a Wall Street Journal study of top-tier college admissions, participation in high school athletics provided no advantage in acceptance at top universities. Participation in activities like band increased acceptance by about 3%. Being debate captain, however, improved an applicant’s chances by more than 60%. In addition, about 90% of high school debaters earn at least 1 graduate degree.
TFA Debaters have attended such notable universities as: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Columbia, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, George Washington, Stanford, Wake Forest, Emory, Rice and the London School of Economics.
Scholarships. Speech and debate competitors earn more scholarships than participants in any other extracurricular activity.
Career Success. Speech and debate competitors have a hiring edge in nearly all fields. Communication skills remain the most important factor that employers look to in hiring.
TFA Debaters have:
--graduated from the country’s top law schools including Harvard and Yale
--graduated from the country’s top medical schools
--graduated from the country’s top business schools
--clerked for Supreme Court justices
--edited the Harvard Law Review
--interned in international relations at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium
Who Debates? The ranks of high school debaters have included: Oprah Winfrey; Brad Pitt; Adam Sandler; Ted Turner; Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Antonin Scalia, and Sonia Sotomayor; news anchor Jane Pauley; actress Shelley Long; James Earl Jones; Bill Clinton; Lyndon B. Johnson; John Belushi; James Dean; Bruce Springsteen; and even John Wayne.
Scholastic Benefits of Speech & Debate
1. Critical thinking skills.
Students involved in Speech & Debate consistently display higher levels of critical thinking skills, which correlate
to increased problem-solving abilities and overall academic performance.
2. Higher performance on standardized tests.
Speech & Debate students tend to score better on standardized tests including the SAT and ACT, as well as state
3. Improved graduation and retention rates.
Students who participate in Speech & Debate are more likely to graduate high school and attend college
than their peers. Additionally, 90% of debaters go on to earn at least one graduate degree (as noted by
Professors Colbert & Biggers in the Journal of the American Forensic Association).
Speech & Debate creates student proficiency in:
• Research methodology and information literacy
• Higher-level thinking through application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and creativity
• Listening and speaking – two overlooked zones of language literacy
(Information compiled with the help of NFL Online)
An Experience in Speech & Debate
Students may compete in any or all of the following events:
• Fosters the analytical skills used in English classes. Oral Interpretation examines the language that an author uses.
This activity also prepares students for the AP, SAT, ACT, and TAKS exams.
• Fosters the research practices used in all subjects. Databases are used to learn more about subjects and authors,
which assists in conveying an argument accurately and persuasively.
• The skills learned in oral interpretation generally improve a student's ability to present himself and his ideas, which
improves student abilities in college interviews and auditions.
• Students learn how to effectively express their constructive criticisms without a sense of judgment.
• Encourages a sense of ownership in that each student is in charge of improving her piece. When the student
succeeds, the feeling of accomplishment is powerful.
• Fosters the ability to persuade an audience. This activity prepares students for the AP, SAT, ACT, and TAKS
exams, and prepares them to advocate for themselves and their ideas.
• Fosters students’ ability to construct a logical argument, identical to methods taught in English classes.
• Students utilize periodicals, and online resources. A familiarity with these media and the information makes these
students more informed citizens and enables them to better prepare research papers and college essays.
• As the most labor-intensive of the three events, this event requires a considerable amount of research to prepare for
argumentation. A familiarity with these media and the information makes these students more informed citizens
and enables them to better prepare research papers and college essays. In general, colleges and businesses are
looking for this kind of familiarity with databases and efficient research capabilities.
• The use of logic and philosophy inherent in this event will prepare students for intellectually challenging college or
• Debate allows students to explore the philosophical realm, providing opportunities that rarely exist for students of
• This activity helps students manage their time efficiently to produce argument of the highest level.