What Academic Debate Can Do For You: Lifetime Benefits

By: Maria Rainier


Debaters often get lumped in with the band geeks, quiz bowl nerds, and mathletes, but much like the dorks in these illustrious social groups, debaters get some real benefits out of the hard work they put into being unpopular. And that’s not just in the high school world – the benefits of being a successful debater extend well into the college years and beyond. Not only do high school debaters make excellent additions to college debate teams, but they also have better chances of getting into selective institutions than most of their compatriots. There are several reasons for this phenomenon, which can be found below – but the upshot of it is that engaging in academic debate is pretty good for your brain. So even if you’re new to the whole idea, you can still get in on the action – it doesn’t matter how old you are, how stubborn, or how smart. Just give it a shot to boost your brain cells by finding a Meetup or Craigslist group, asking a nerdy friend, or searching your town or city website. You’ll be glad you did.

Why Arguing is Good for You

Yes, it’s fun to laugh at the idea of people debating how much bathtub water is displaced by a rubber duck, but that’s not what really happens in academic debate. Many of the issues prepared are serious, and the arguments made about them can be used to help people develop their own opinions, decisions, and solutions. So if you’re interested in becoming a more globally aware citizen, a more effective member of your community, or just a smarter cookie, keep reading to find out about more juicy benefits of academic debate.


Upgrade Your Thinking Cap

Critical thinking is pretty important in a lot of life situations. Being a debater certainly doesn’t confine you to the academic mustiness of books every day, but it does help you to apply your knowledge to problems that arise every day in the real world. You won’t turn into a nearsighted, nocturnal reading monster that calls the library “home,” but you’ll probably find that you’re better at problem solving, innovating thinking, and connecting seemingly disparate ideas.  Academic debate has been shown to help people synthesize a variety of pieces of complex information in creative ways – and that’s a skill that can be used by anyone in any situation.

Do It Better

Written and oral communication, reading comprehension, foreign language study, understanding complexities in the humanities, and motivating yourself to keep cracking the books are all skills that are enhanced by academic debate. So if you want to get better at any of these activities, try joining a debate team.

Be the Mature One

No one wants to be stuck with the whiny fifth-grader when they can have the dazzlingly astute, emotionally mature college graduate. Become that person everyone wants to know (even if it’s just so they can get your advice) by developing your maturity and professionalism with debate. You’ll be able to have stronger, deeper relationships with friends, keep your head on straight when things don’t go as planned, and be able to resolve conflicts among your peers – all from participating in academic debate.

Fame and Fortune

Clean up at all your reunions by becoming an incredible specimen of wealth and intelligence – just keep debating. Yes, you’ll be more likely to have a high GPA, impressive ACT and SAT scores, and admission to the college of your choice if you stick with the debate team. Often, debater-specific scholarships are offered at colleges, so you can get financial aid while you plan your amazing entrepreneurship. You’re also pretty likely to become a leader in the workplace, so go ahead and let debate improve your self-confidence and ability to relate well to others. You don’t have much to lose (except for your first debate), but it’s well worth the investment. You could even become the next President – just ask Jimmy and Gerald.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and blogging about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, formerly The Traveling Scholar. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. She is a former resident of London and San Francisco and now calls the island of Anguilla home. In addition to The Wanderlust Effect, Shannon is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort and is on the Board of Directors of the Omololu International School in Anguilla.