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Debate has an academic, professional and personal impact on students lives. 

Students who participate in debate have a higher cumulative GPA by approximately 0.4, increased likelihood to graduate, and higher test scores (Mezuk et. al 2011).  Debaters are also more likely to attend class and have increased interest in their course work (Snider et. al 2011). These academic benefits translate to careers, as debate increases the likelihood that one will pursue higher education (Akerman and Neale 2011). 

For students personally, engaging in debate can boost confidence, improves critical thinking skills, and develops communication skills (Akerman and Neale 2011). Debate prepares students to become full participants in society (Allen et. al 1999).


Why Debte

Public Forum (PF) is a 2 versus 2 style debate event. Currently PF is the most popular style of debate for high schoolers in the United States. Public Forum debate offers a number of benefits to students, coaches, and colleges including:

  • Students engage a "prepared debate topic" meaning they are allotted ample time to prepare evidence and arguments prior to the competition. This allows PF debaters to develop deep skills in researching and writing.

  • Public Forum debaters will debate resolutions that reflect current events, both within the United States and international politics, helping students to stay informed and develop rounded political perspectives.
  • Students who compete in Public Forum debate can succeed without having years of prior debate experience and can choose how much time they commit to debate, offering an accessible debate activity to any student.
  • Public Forum as a debate event emphasizes skills in communication, public speaking, appealing to various audiences, and more. These skills translate beyond debate, and prepare students for graduate school and professional careers.


The Collegiate Public Forum Debate League offers a number of unique benefits to students, coaches, and teams. The CPFL offers accessible tournament opportunities per semester. These competitions are low cost and online, allowing teams across the country to participate and win awards with little to no barriers to entry.

Additionally, the CPFL provides resources to help member schools build or increase programs, including our ambassador program, novice classes, team-based mentorship programs, and judging/recruitment resources. Students may also utilize these resources, as well as our starter evidence kit, to help them prepare for competition.

The Collegiate Public Forum Debate League is committed to fostering an accessible, equitable and sustainable debate community, with resources available to support all collegiate debate teams. 


A. C. & Lawrence, E. W. (2011). DEBATE: Important for Everyone. Retrieved from
Akerman, Rodie & Ian Neale. “Debating the evidence: an international review of current situation and perceptions.” CfBT Education Trust, 2011.

Allen, M., Berkowitz, S., Hunt, S., & Louden, A. (1999). A meta‐analysis of the impact of forensics and communication education on critical thinking. Communication Education, 48(1), 18-30.
Anderson, Susannah; Mezuk, Briana (2012). Participating in a policy debate program and academic achievement among at-risk adolescents in an urban public school district: 1997–2007. Journal of Adolescence, 35(5), 1225–1235. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.04.005
Mezuk, Briana et al. “Impact of participating in a policy debate program on academic achievement: Evidence from the Chicago Urban Debate League.” Educational Research and Reviews, 2011.

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