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Articles / Applying to College / Will Dropping Speech/Debate Hurt Admission Odds?

Feb. 15, 2016

Will Dropping Speech/Debate Hurt Admission Odds?

Question:

I am a freshman at a highly competitive private school in both DECA and speech. Next year, I have been offered the chance to become a DECA officer, however, that means I will have to quit speech as they both require classes that conflict. I am very passionate about DECA and I do well in it, but I don't know if quitting speech after one year will reflect badly on my college qualifications. I do well in speech, and I have heard that speech and debate is more useful for college but there aren't many leadership opportunities in speech. What do I do?

Sometimes “The Dean" gets tough questions, but this one is a no-brainer. If you can't do both DECA and speech, definitely stick with DECA. You clearly have a passion for it, so you certainly shouldn't give it up. Dropping speech will have no negative impact whatsoever on your college prospects. Admission officials do like to see that students have used their time in a worthwhile way outside of the classroom, but speech and debate will not impress any more than DECA will. In fact, if you are aiming for the most selective colleges (the ones that get the most attention on the College Confidential discussion forum) you should note that both DECA and speech … while well regarded activities… will not help you to stand out in a crowd at admission-decision time since each is a very common high school undertaking. So in addition to your commitment to DECA, you might want to also look for another endeavor that you can pursue concurrently that you will love just as much but that is also a bit more unusual.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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