National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA)

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

woman sitting on the floor while writing on her notes

National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA)

Speech and Debate are very important activities to help develop different types of skills such as confidence for public speaking and how to express yourself better. Developing these skills not only helps for speech and debate competitions, but are key skills in many areas, such as interviews, presentations, seminars, and anything you do both in your college life and in your professional life.

three medals dangling

At AdmissionSight we believe that developing these skills is critical for both the college admissions process and for a successful college career. Just like when you were younger and competed in Spelling Bee contests, where you started to develop your public speaking skills, speech and debate events take that a step further and work on so many more skills.

Aside from competing in speech and debate events, students also need to prepare to compete. And when doing so, they also work on their critical thinking and research skills.

They learn how to come up with good and solid arguments. They work on expressing their ideas clearly and concisely. They analyze different points of view and learn to see things from someone else’s perspective. They work on finding evidence to support their statements and work in their communication skills, on their collaboration with their peers, and in their creativity.

All of the skills that speech and debate help develop play a key role when applying to college. Writing an amazing essay is a key factor that determines a student’s admission to a top university. Writing a properly researched essay, with solid arguments, showing a clear point of view, is something that will set a student apart from the thousands of students competing for a spot at the college of your choice.

Also, once you’ve been accepted to the college of your dreams, those skills acquired through participating in speech and debate events will definitely give you a leg up when it comes to presentations, seminars, and any public speaking activities. Even after college, it will prepare you for interviewing for jobs.

The National Speech and Debate Association is the largest speech and debate organization in the entire world. So if you’re thinking of joining a speech and debate institution, this is where you want to be. They’re the most recognized organization, are qualifiers for nationals, and offer multiple awards and resources to their members.

What’s the National Speech and Debate Association?

In 1925, the National Speech and Debate Association was created in order to offer recognition and support to all of the students that engage in speech and debate endeavors. They empower students from diverse communities to participate and develop their skills.

the participant of each org for debate

At AdmissionSight we encourage you to research resources in your area to find out where you can participate and become a member of NSDA. Lots of schools are members, and as a member, you’ll get access to multiple resources, aside from being able to compete at different levels.

What does the National Speech and Debate Association do?

As the largest honor society in the world dedicated to speech and debate endeavors, the NSDA gives out multiple awards and recognition to students, coaches, and schools.

Another important thing to know about the National Speech and Debate Association is that they host the largest academic competition in the world. At AdmissionSight we believe that this is a key factor when it comes to the college admissions process, as stating that you participated in such a well-known and wide contest will definitely make your transcript with extracurricular activities stand out.

a students performing on stage

When you’re in the middle of the college admissions process, you need to remember that it’s not just about your grades. You need to show you have more to yourself than just school. You need hobbies and extracurricular activities to show you’re a well-rounded individual, with passions and interests.

Showing a true interest in the area that you want to major in is key when applying to college. If you’re thinking of studying anything in the Humanities, being part of the National Speech and Debate Association will definitely help you stand out. And if you compete, and do well, claiming awards, those recognitions will also be very helpful.

So why wait? Become a member today! Do you need any more incentives? If students, coaches, or schools become members of the NSDA, they’ll get access to multiple resources, programs, publications, and scholarships, making this membership really worthwhile.

What are the Mission, Vision, Equity Statement, and Core Values of the National Speech and Debate Association?

  • Mission: Their mission is to connect, support, and inspire a diverse community by promoting speech and debate among students.
  • Vision: The NSDA hopes to see a society where each and every school has speech and debate programs that encourage skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity among their students.
  • Equity Statement: The NSDA aspires to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for all of the communities involved in speech and debate activities.
  • Core Values: The core values fostered by the NSDA are equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service.

At AdmissionSight we believe that all of the values developed and encouraged at the National Speech and Debate Association are not just great values to have for competing at speech and debate competitions, but are the core values that any individual looking to apply and get into college should have.

What really are Speech and Debate?

The different speech and debate events present different forms of public speaking and involve specific skill sets and talent. Students typically end up taking a liking for one type of event, but a lot of them still take part in events in several categories.

So what’s the difference between speech and debate?

  • Speech: One, two, or several students make a presentation, and they’re judged against other similar presentations in a competition round. There are lots of different types of events, from limited preparation with knowledge of current events as a requirement to dramatic and humorous interpretations from the literature that the students have to recreate.
  • Debate: Either one student or a team of debaters try to convince a judge that their resolution has more merit. The students have to investigate and understand both sides, and critically come up with arguments for any point that could be made.

Every year there are multiple different topics being discussed and debated in the different tournaments, trying to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the debates.

What are the Academic Skills associated with Speech and Debate?

At AdmissionSight we believe that speech and debate are critical to developing very important skills that will make students thrive in college, such as creating confidence, improving communication, and augmenting critical thinking.

Students that participate in speech and debate events have higher test scores, show a rise in college acceptance, and are prepared for both college and their future careers.

Speech and debate both work with the four core zones of literacy: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  So what skills are developed through speech and debate?

  • Critical thinking
  • Properly articulating thoughts and ideas
  • Logically answering questions
  • Thinking on one’s feet
  • Developing interpersonal skills (resolution, assertiveness, and listening to others)

Why should you join the National Speech and Debate Association?

Speech and debate activities are open to students in middle school and high school. They’re challenging, competitive, and demand lots of practice, coaching, dedication, and, of course, hard work.

The National Speech And Debate Association is the largest debate organization in the world, so it offers multiple benefits for their members, such as resources, access to tournaments, professional development, scholarships, and exclusive partnerships, among others.

What are the benefits of being a member?

If you want to be able to engage with peers in a community of professionals in the speech and debate area, then the National Speech and Debate Association is for you. Networking is essential to develop your skills and so that you can create lasting relationships that will help guide and mentor you.

The NSDA has more than 3,000 member high schools, 600 middle schools, and 5,200 coaches in the United States. It’s a vast network that can definitely work in your favor when you’re trying to prepare for college.

There are different benefits for members of the National Speech and Debate Association:

  • For Schools: an online roster management and points tracker, eligibility for awards, an honor code that provides standards for ethical competition, chances to vote in national debate topics, and the ability to qualify for nationals, among other benefits.
  • For Coaches: aside from the same benefits students get, the coaches also have access to professional opportunities and credit through their management system, career membership in the biggest speech and debate organization in the globe, a membership certificate, online resources, eligibility for national awards, and access to professional coach accreditations, among other benefits.
  • For Students: aside from the benefits the member schools receive, students can be part of the largest speech and debate organization in the world, get a membership certificate, compete in districts and qualify for nationals, vote in the national debate topics, and be eligible for national awards, among other benefits.

What are the different types of tournaments the NSDA has?

There are three types of tournaments, at local, district and national levels. They provide students with a chance to earn rewards for participating in different competitive events.

  • Local Tournaments: In the United States, most areas have local opportunities where students can practice in tournaments during the school year. Competing is obviously the best way to start getting involved in speech and debate, and as a member of the National Speech and Debate Association, you’ll have access to plenty of resources to guide you to get ready to compete.
  • District Tournaments: Competing at the district level is how students can get to compete at the national level, which is the biggest academic contest in the entire world. Each year there are different district competitions to select those who qualify for the national tournament.
  • National Tournament: The national tournament is the highest level of competition for any middle school or high school student who loves to compete in speech and debate events. More than 140,000 students that have placed among the best in their district get to participate. The judges include CEOs, ex-Cabinet members, celebrities, sponsors, and celebrated members of the community.

What are the types of recognition that students can earn?

There are so many different types of recognition that the National Speech and Debate Association awards every year. Besides winning tournaments or earning Honor Society points, students can also win other types of awards, such as All American, Academic All American, District Student of the Year, William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year, National Exemplary Student Service Award, and Graduation Honor Cords.

three medals dangling

What about Diversity and Inclusion?

Inclusion and diversity are incredibly important to the National Speech and Debate Association. Every single year they seek out recommendations from the Caucasus of Coaches to get together at the national tournament so they can talk about their inclusion efforts for the next year.

What’s the history of the National Speech and Debate Association?

The NSDA was created in 1925 to support high school students who like to participate in speech and debate activities.

It was founded by Bruno E. Jacob, of Ripon College in Wisconsin, as the National Forensic League (now NSDA). In 1931, they held the first competition at Ripon College, just with high school students, and in 1995 they expanded to include middle school students as well.

In 2004, 32 students from eight different countries participated in the first international competition at the Ted Turner Public Forum and Congressional Debate.

In 2014, the National Forensic League changed its name to the current one, the National Speech and Debate Association.

In conclusion, if you love words, expressing yourself, debating, finding arguments and defending them, studying different points of view, and competing at the highest level, then don’t wait for another second and become a member of the National Speech and Debate Association.

At AdmissionSight, we strongly suggest this as a way to foster the necessary skills to successfully apply to college and to have a solid college experience. You’ll get a unique experience that you’ll carry with you through your college career and your professional career.

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