Why College Forensics Matters (A Lot)
The Ball State University Forensic Team at AFA-NIET 2014 (@bsuspeech)
Chances are, if you follow SpeechGeek on Twitter or Facebook, you may have noticed a lot action surrounding the 2014 AFA-NIET earlier this month. If you don't follow SpeechGeek (on Twitter or Facebook or on Pinterest or Tumblr), take a moment to stop reading this blog post and add us now. It's cool, we'll wait.
Some of our more recent followers may have thought, "Where are my memes, SpeechGeek? I'm here for the LOLZ." Some follow SpeechGeek only for the annual coverage of these tournaments. Others shrug and think, "Eh, it doesn't really matter to me."
Don't get us wrong: we get giddy when folks enjoy and share our more humorous posts. But the geeks here feel like we need to make a contribution to the activity beyond pictures of bears wearing bow ties with the caption "#CrossExProbs." We love being silly - but we love forensics a bit more.
That's why hearing people say, "Huh? They have speech in college?" seems like a tiny imaginary foot is stomping on our hearts. YES! Not only is there speech and debate in college, but it is totally awesome!
Sometimes folks who are competing in high school may get told from coaches or alumni that college forensics "isn't for them." Maybe the coach or alum competed in college forensics for a while and really didn't like it. That's okay. The style of performances and speeches that shine in high school may struggle to be rewarded on the college circuit. Maybe they didn't like all of the travel. Maybe there was too much travel for them to balance speech, school, having a job, and experiencing the fifty billion other activities available on a college campus.
But here's the great thing about college: you get the chance to become a different person and try different things. Maybe you're happy to finish your four years in high school. Hey - you do you. You might, however, want another four years of speech before giving it up for good. (Or at least until being a professional interper is an option.) There are people who never clicked in high school who go on to achieve awesome success in college. There are people who have success in both high school AND college. You don't know unless you try.
The University of Alabama Forensic Team at AFA-NIET 2014 (@BamaForensics)
The things that make high school speech so amazing are still there on the collegiate circuit. It is an important and enriching activity that makes you a stand out candidate for graduate schools or jobs later on. Despite what you may think, your critical thinking and argumentation skills have only just scratched the surface. College forensics opens you up to new concepts, ideas, arguments, and literature. You're not only exploring new ways of thinking, but you're discovering more about yourself in the process. You'll get the opportunity to travel out of state -- and in some cases -- out of the country. Some collegiate teams offer full or partial scholarships in an effort to recruit students to their teams. (If you see someone at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament with laser focus and a fistful of business cards, it's probably a college coach.) Perhaps the most valuable aspect of college forensics is finding a network of people with a shared interest in what may be a big (and lonely) new campus.
For five years now, SpeechGeek has covered the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament and the National Forensic Association National Tournament. Initially, we covered the tournaments because we were already in attendance as coaches. But even as we transitioned to working on SpeechGeek full-time, we continued to share the information and results.
We continue to do this to not only serve the friends, family, and alumni of college competitors - but to serve you as well. The college competitors are often alumni of your schools or people whom you competed against in the past. The alums of high school competition are often among the most enthusiastic volunteers, judges, and camp counselors. They frequently return after their semester wraps up to help their alma maters prepare for competition in July. Is there anything more inspiring as you prep for summer competition than watching others feel the hype and joy of national tournaments in the spring?
As we prepare to pack up and head to the NFA National Tournament in Ypsilanti, Michigan, we'll be posting articles that give you insight to the different events available in collegiate forensics. If you have questions, suggestions, or contributions, you're always welcome to send them via e-mail to stephanie (at) speechgeek (dot) com.
To get you started, here's a list of links that will help introduce to the teams, organizations, and tournaments you'll find on the collegiate circuit:
Follow us on your favorite social media outlets for live updates, posts, new additions to the store, and general forensics fun. (Oh, here's the bear in a bow tie we promised.)