The Wall Street Journal report did specifically highlight a “consistent trend”
- one that forensic coaches have known for a long time – that dedicated participation in drama
and debate has significantly increased the success rate of college applicants at all schools which
track such data. --- a 22% to 30% higher acceptance rate at top tier colleges and being captain
of the debate team “improved an applicant’s chances by more than 60% compared with the rest
of the pool,” according to the report.
[Forensics and College Admissions]
Yale University professor Minh A. Luong has some advice for high school students (and their
parents) who is interested in pursuing their studies at a top college or university:
First, select an activity based on what you need to develop as a person, net necessarily
what might look good on a college application or what your friends are doing. Consider the many
benefits derived from participation in speech and debate that can help develop both personal and
Second, parents should assist their children in selecting an activity as early in their high
school career as possible but they must support them for the right reasons. Living vicariously
through your children or forcing your children into an activity that is intended primarily to impress
friends and college admissions directors will not yield the intended results.
Third, pursue your selected activity with true passion and seek to be the very best to the
outer limits of your abilities. In the case of speech and debate, it will most likely mean focusing on
improving your oral and written communication skills as well as your critical thinking skills. It also
means working with your coach as much as possible and even seeking additional training and
practice during the summer.
Fourth, document your successes and what you have learned. Many colleges will accept
portfolios of work where you can demonstrate your intellectual development and progress.
Finally, keep in mind that colleges have a mission to train future active citizens and
leaders. Concentrate on enhancing your passion for speech and debate by developing your
communication, work ethic, time management, networking, and social as well as professional skills
as your primary objectives. If you develop your abilities in these areas first, competitive success
will inevitably follow.