KU Debate As Preparation for Life

KU Debate alums have found intercollegiate policy debate to be preparation for life, whether that means a career focused on the classroom, the boardroom, or the courtroom. The rigorous training that intercollegiate debate instills serves graduates for life.

The ability to organize complex factual data and defend a position on one's feet in front of an adversary is a natural preparation for a career in law, business, academia, and many other professions.

Naturally, KU Debate alums have gone on to attend the nation's most prestigious law schools across the country. KU Debaters have graduated from law schools at Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, Pennsylvania, University of California at Berkeley-Boalt Hall, Emory University, Washburn, KU, the University of Texas, Georgetown University, UMKC, and as Jaworski Scholars at Baylor Law School. KU Debate alums have served in leading positions within the U.S. Department of Justice, as a state attorney general, as one of the nation's leading trade negotiators, in our nation's military JAG corps, and within the National Security Council. Given the forensic skills debate develops, it is hardly surprising that many KU Debate alums have found great success as trial lawyers and appellate lawyers throughout the United States, from Wall Street to Main Street. KU Debate alums have argued cases at all levels of the American justice system, including successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition, KU Debate alums publish and teach law at some of the nation's leading law schools. KU Debate alums have been published in the nation's leading law journals, including the Columbia Law Review, Yale Law Journal, University of Chicago Law Review, New York University Law Review, Texas Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Cornell Law Review,Georgetown Law Journal, and UCLA Law Review.

KU Debate alums have gone into successful careers in other distinguished professions. KU Debate counts among its alums a leading cardiac surgeon and a nationally-recognized speech therapist. One KU Debate alum is a successful author of a series of best-selling mystery novels.

KU Debate alums have also attained great achievement in business and finance. KU Debate alums are CEOs, managers, sales leaders, and professionals in a diverse range of enterprises. KU Debate includes brokers and investment bankers among its alumni. KU Debate imparts the skills necessary to cogently present and defend a point of view in presentations to a single customer or to an entire organization. KU Debate develops skills deemed essential to those who generate sales by developing the persuasive skills and enthusiasm to develop sales leads and close the deal. KU Debate alums can be found in industries ranging from sports marketing, petrochemicals, computer science, and media and television, to telecommunications and mortgage banking.

KU Debate alums have also earned distinction in academia, in disciplines outside of law. KU Debate prepares undergraduate students in the rigors of academic research and the ability to develop, present and teach ideas to others. KU Debate has generated a number of Deans and Professors throughout academia. In academic Speech and Debate, KU has become the "Cradle of Coaches" developing forensics and speech programs throughout the United States. In other liberal arts, KU Debate can be found as leading professors in fields such as history, philosophy, political science, and economics.

KU Debate also hosts regular alumni reunions and campus meetings, helping younger KU debaters network with older alumni. Sometimes in life it is not simply what you know, but who you know.

Success in professional endeavors is obviously one important measure of success. But KU Debate (and intercollegiate debate itself) imparts skills and values that we think help make KU Debate alums better citizens. Intercollegiate debate teaches the importance of evidence, skepticism of weaker evidence, and logical reasoning. Intercollegiate debate invariably teaches some degree of humility, not only through the inevitable losses (debaters, like all of us, only seem to "learn" through their losses- "education through pain"), but also in having to advocate both sides of a difficult policy question, regardless of personal predisposition or viewpoint. Debating the leading policy issues of the day makes debaters more aware of the issues in the world around them. The ability to debate complex issues and to sort through the conflicting evidence teaches critical thinking that debaters will use throughout their entire lives.


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