Capitol Debate

As the need for SAT scores in college admissions decreases, colleges are increasingly valuing different abilities. Michael T. Nietzel’s article in Forbes reveals that over 80 percent of U.S. colleges with bachelor’s programs are moving towards test-optional admissions for fall 2023. This trend emphasizes more than ever the need for greater skills in effective communication.  Public speaking and debate are becoming key factors in students’ ability to secure college acceptances in a landscape where SAT scores are less emphasized.

College Interviews
Adapting to the decreased emphasis on standardized testing, many colleges are embracing more personalized admissions methods that focus on interviews and direct interactions. For instance, St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, has introduced a ‘discussion-based’ application pathway, allowing applicants to engage directly with admissions counselors and faculty. Similarly, Olin College in Massachusetts integrates personal interactions into its admissions process, inviting prospective students to partake in its unique ‘Candidates Weekend.’ The shift towards a more personalized admission process, as outlined by Liam Knox in Inside Higher Education, highlights the importance of strong communication skills that students can develop through public speaking and debate.

Capitol Debate

GPA as a Key Indicator
With SAT scores becoming less central, colleges are increasingly considering GPA as a primary numerical indicator of a student’s academic prowess. In this context, public speaking and debate gain importance. According to a study by Tomohiro M. Ko and Briana Mezuk published in Educational Research and Reviews, students actively involved in debate tend to have GPAs .66 points higher on average than their non-debating peers. This improved academic record, combined with the critical thinking and personal development fostered by debate, positions students as well-rounded and compelling candidates for college admissions, especially important in a holistic evaluation process.

Recommendation Letters
In the current admissions landscape, references and recommendation letters are gaining importance.  Students who excel in public speaking and debate often stand out as leaders and engaged learners. Their active participation in discussions and skill in expressing complex ideas not only enrich their academic experiences but also distinguish them within their school communities. These attributes, particularly their effective communication, are often highlighted by educators in recommendation letters, emphasizing the student’s leadership and active involvement, qualities highly valued by admissions officers.

Capitol Debate

College Essays
As essays gain more importance in college applications, the writing skills developed through public speaking and debate take on added significance. Students involved in these activities often write essays that are not only well-organized and thoughtful but also persuasive. This aspect is crucial in the college application process. Their ability to think critically and articulate ideas coherently is clearly reflected in their essays, significantly boosting the quality of their college applications.

College Resume
Including public speaking and debate experience in college applications is highly valued in the admissions process. As noted by the late Minh A. Luong, Assistant Professor at Yale University, colleges place a high importance on debate experience, seeing it as a demonstration of a student’s skills in critical thinking, clear communication, and leadership. Such recognition sets students apart as a unique and competent candidate, thereby increasing their attractiveness in the college admissions process.

In an environment where colleges seek multifaceted candidates, proficiency in public speaking and debate is indispensable. These skills not only elevate a student’s academic and extracurricular profile but also transform them into confident, articulate, and persuasive individuals. Capitol Debate Public Speaking and Debate Camps have witnessed the transformative effect of these skills on students, many of whom have leveraged their enhanced communication abilities to gain admittance to top U.S. colleges. Our alumni embody success, with acceptances and degrees from every Ivy League institution, including luminaries like Stanford, Harvard and Yale, as well as other renowned universities across the nation. This success underscores the observation that dedicated involvement in speech and debate is one of the best activities for developing essential academic, professional, and life skills, making students more attractive candidates for college admission.

Ron Bratt is the owner of Capitol Debate. He has given his life to developing debate skills in children because he has seen how it enhances their intellectual growth. He has been involved in creating high school debate and college debate programs to help students learn practical skills that will benefit and enrich their lives.

Ron Bratt established the Catholic University Debate program in 1998, leading the team to multiple national titles during his 6-year tenure. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in forming the Urban Debate League in Washington, D.C., and collaborated with the International Debate Educational Association to bring students from Europe and seven other countries for leadership and debate training in the U.S.

In 2006, Ron Bratt established Capitol Debate with a vision to empower young individuals to find their voice and drive change in both their lives and the broader world. Since its inception, he has successfully expanded the program to over 15 cities, including notable locations like Princeton, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Diego, the Bay Area, and Seattle.

Beyond Capitol Debate, Ron has made significant contributions as a commentator on national political debates. He was notably featured in Washingtonian Magazine in the run-up to the 2012 presidential debates between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. Throughout his diverse endeavors, Ron has steadfastly adhered to his fundamental belief in the power of debate to foster academic and social growth in young people.