Penn Speech & Debate


Joined Apr 10 2011
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Penn Speech & Debate

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Caitlin Dougherty is a rising Junior in the College of Artsand Sciences, majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, with a concentrationin Distributive Justice.  She iscurrently interning at the Netter Center and is a former intern for ProJectLiteracy Fellowship and State Senator Bob Mensch.  In addition to Speech and Debate, (Impromptuand Persuasive, but looking to try DI) she sings in the University Choir and worksas an IC specialist in King’s Court.  In her free time, she can be found single-handedly keeping the local coffeeindustry in business or reading the Onion.



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Reply CaitlinD
6:39 PM on April 21, 2011 
Is Debate for You?
By ALLAN LOUDEN, Wake Forest University

Deciding to continue debate, selecting the most appropriate program, and knowing which college or university to attend are among the most difficult decisions facing high school students following graduation. Far too often these important decisions are also the least informed. While there exists no magic formula for selecting a college or debate program, the following observations are offered to provide some guidelines for approaching these decisions.
After completing a rigorous high school academic and debate career many have serious hesitations about pursuing debate in college. It is fair to note that college debate is not for everyone. College provides a cornucopia of opportunities and closing off those chances should be examined carefully. Too often, however, high school seniors prematurely decide to ?wait to get involved? until they first master their class work. Delaying participation sounds prudent but this strategy is not always the best approach. The rewards in college more often go to those who do get involved. Staying ?too busy? is often the formula for accomplishing more than your peers.
The most common question I am asked by incoming college freshmen is HOW MUCH TIME WILL COLLEGE DEBATE TAKE? The glib answer, of course, is too much. Most college activities are more specialized and make greater demands on your time. It is important to remember, however, that the level of commitment required to succeed in college activities, in turn, provides the very highest rewards. The bottom line is that compared to the ?ordinary low-intensity student,? those who pursue some area of excellence utilize their ?time? in ways that are forever memorable. Debaters who ?sacrifice? the time are rewarded with intense friendships forged through competition (local and national), ability to handle pressures comparable to the most challenging jobs, and academic skills heads and shoulders above their peers. Not a bad payoff for an activity that participants generally love anyway.
In addition to time commitments many incoming freshman express hesitations about their own abilities to succeed. Importantly, college debate is not just for the ?stars? of the high school circuit. A prevalent myth which says ?only the best need apply? is empirically denied every year. The ranks of college debate are filled with competitors whose high school careers were average and those who competed in programs with limited opportunities. On occasion, top college speakers have not even participated in debate until college. The great equalizers are determination, tenacity, and maturity. One should never decide out-of-hand that they cannot make it in college debate. If you are genuinely interested there are opportunities to match your enthusiasm.
If you are interested in debating in college or simply want to learn more about potential programs how can you go about learning which programs exist and what they are really like? The following guidelines may help sort out the available information and misinformation.
Debating can be one of the most rewarding experiences you are likely to encounter in college. If you have found your high school competition to be rewarding on any number of levels (social, knowledge, skills, excitement, etc.), you can expect the college experience to exceed your expectations. Each year I have contact with dozens of alumni, many of whom are well established in successful careers. I am continually struck with the nearly universal sentiment that: ?debate was the most rewarding experience of my college career.? Take control of your own future and intelligently investigate the opportunities that college debate offers.