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How Speech and Debate Can Prepare Your Kid to Excel in College

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

For many parents, ensuring that their child can not only attend, but excel at a great college is a serious concern. Each year it seems that admissions rates go down, and competition for the top schools goes up. So what can you do to help ensure your child stands out and is ready to excel in college?

Look no further than speech and debate.

Persuasive Writing

In college, everyone has to write essays. What helps distinguish the top students from their peers is their essays aren’t just about something; they argue something. Strong persuasive writing skills are critical in college, and

they often aren’t developed in your typical high school English curriculum. Many high school classes focus on grammar and style, few truly teach students how to construct, support, and execute an argument in writing.

In speech and debate however, students are forced to be clear and concise to win the judge’s ballot. Simply presenting a slew of facts isn’t enough. Their cases are written and rewritten to maximize the amount of logic, reasoning, and evidence they can place behind their central thesis. These same skills will prove invaluable when students are asked to write dozens of essays throughout college.

Research Skills

Another core skill required to excel in college is research. In debate, good research skills are critical to backing up your arguments with facts and data. Students in debate learn how to look for sources, how to cite sources, and most importantly, how to evaluate the credibility of a source.

Research in debate also provides a unique opportunity for students to be creative. Rather than being told they need to find evidence for X, Y, and Z, they’re able to brainstorm their own arguments and search for evidence and topic literature to support it. This freedom and creativity not only teaches students how to research, but instills a love of research in your child from a young age.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Few opportunities in college are as coveted as the chance to contribute to a published piece of writing or research. However, most students enter college with no experience in collaborative writing and or research. In fact, most high schools essays are assigned individually, and collaboration can often be discouraged in an attempt to prevent plagiarism.

Speech and debate however, changes how a student relates to writing. Instead of seeing it as a strictly individual task, they must learn to coordinate with others and collaborate. Not only does this help instill in them the value of teamwork, but it teaches them specific skills around collaborative writing and research that will help them stand out in college.

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