Recruiting Tips


These are recruiting tips that people from across the country, mainly college directors, sent me.


























Our recruiting efforts are largely dedicated to seeing that our forensic

students are good students.  Thus we put more weight on high school

grades and SAT scores than on debate experience although the later may be

important as well. 





1. We try to host at least one overnight campus visit in the spring. 

Prospective students stay with current team members and the member show them

around, take them to class, etc.  Doing at all once is a great help in

talking to all recruits at the same time.

2. Current team members said they liked getting personal phone calls from me

and other team members.  Since our school is small and promotes personal

attention, we try to do our part by maintaing contact with prospective


3. In addition to phone calls, current team members write notes to

prospective students thanking them for their interest in the squad...they

basically serve as the forensics team contact person with the recruit.

4. Prospective students have also traveled with us to tournaments to get an

idea of what college forensics is like, as well as how our team acts and

interacts.  Those have gone over very well too.

5. We plan to judge high school tournaments in our area as a way of

recruiting as well as giving my kids practice being on the other side of the


6. We also hosted a high school tournament as a way of getting prospective

students to our campus.  Some of our current members attended our past

tournaments and said they probably wouldn't have considered our school had it

not been for the high school tournament.  We don't host one anymore because

we have grown too big for our budget!  But it helped at the time.

7. We have a brochure about our program that is mailed out to prospective

students.  The brochure is mailed out by our admissions office.  A letter

listing our scholarship is also sent to prospective students.

8. Keeping touch with students over the summer before coming to school is

really big...keeps them in touch and involved with the team, even though they

really haven't started classes yet.  That's more on the retention side of new

recruits than new recruiting per se.





I am sure that a lot of people will hit on the main points of recruiting, but

these are some things I have learned since I have been at Baylor.


The best advice I have for recruiting is to provide anyone who might listen with

information about what you are doing.  The best students with whom I have worked

have been those who sought me out--not necessarily those whom I sought. Just

getting some visibility so that people in your university and your area know you

are there. Flyers, the school paper, press releases, you and your students

talking about their efforts in classes, talking among other faculty--all of that

information may trickle down to someone who will be interested.


One good way to get visibility is community service. Baylor has long had a

commitment to involving students in community service. Waco has also had a

significant involvement in Clinton's youth summit idea. We do a fall and a

spring community service project.  That is good for our kids, and gets us some

involvement with people who might not have known we exist.


We also widely advertise our public debates in the community as well as at the

University. That reminds the community that we exist.  I have had several students

who have walked in the door because a friend of a friend heard about something

we were doing and thought they should check us out.


The list of people who should be informed includes your alumni.  Some of my best

recruiters are my alums--and their parents.  The students fan out all over the

country when they leave and they make great contacts.  Moreover, the parents are

excited by the way debate has contributed to their kids' lives.  They will talk

to their friends and those they meet and send good kids--even if they have no

debate experience--your direction.




Save for two students, all of the CSU-Chico debaters started as novices

and were recruited from our campus. How did we do it? We host an on-campus

rookie tournament every semester. The students from the public speaking

class compete against each other in persuasive speaking, informative, and

impromptu. The three sections of the argumentation and debate compete each

each other in a four round tournament. We give the students extra credit

in our class AND they can receive an additional unit of credit for signing

up for the tournament. It's been an enormous success. This semester we

have 251 students signed up for the rookie! Our department loves the

rookie tournament because it generates much FTE. And, the students who do

well, win hardware (even some who don't), end up traveling with the team.


This last year we had a master's student who put together the Rookie

Tournament Handbook. If you are interested in starting a tourney at your

school and would like this resource, let me know.


Kristina Schriver, Ph.D.

Director of Forensics

California State University-Chico



There have been a couple posts in here asking questions about how to get

novices and to keep them.  Well, once I get them to a tournament, I have them.

  I rarely lose them once the tournament "hooks" them.  My trouble the past

two years is recruiting them from campus.  We try damn hard at MTSU to recruit

novices, and three years ago, we had a bonanza, and they are currently my

varsity squad.


So, here is what my squad does to recruit:


I send out letters to presidential scholars.

We plaster the campus with flyers in the beginning (first week) of the year.

We promote debate with our webpage.

We send notices to professors.

We publish our meeting times in our newspapers.

We promote by word of mouth.

We distribute literature and talk to people at the organization fair.


I guarantee that people know about us.


However, we don't have many novices.  why?


1.  students work.  students can get off for the weekends, or afford to.  this

is the number one reason why I don't have more novices.  It is a shame that

they have to work, but it is realistic.  I have lost almost every  novice the

past two years for this reason.

2.  debate isn't what they thought.  (they imagined debate to be like parli

frankly).  They didn't want to do research, they didn't want to learn about

subjects that were un-interesting (yes, even last year on the civil rights

topic), and so on.

3.  time committment.  Ok, we require novices to work about 5 hours per week

at the beginning.  We set up times to work with them in small groups.  yet

this is too much time.  It would take away from their other activities.


These are the three primary reasons.


If people have ideas about how to get around them or to preach the reasons to

debate which go beyond the norm, I would appreciate it.


We don't have scholarships to give to MBA students (like they would come to

MTSU), so we basically live and die with our novice recruitment and training.


And, if we have trouble hooking people, then i can see the problem that other

schools would have.


I ask for help, and help those who don't have novices or know how to attract









1. Heavy campaigning on campus... we have brochures and fliers all over

the place the first few weeks of each semester.

2. Recruiting in public speaking classes... we go to all of the public

speaking and argumentation classes (the ones required for general ed oral

comm) and hype the program.

3. We talk to anyone and everyone who will listen for a minute or two.




> >Thought this might be useful recruiting information for DOFs trying to

> >convince students to become involved in forensics.  I've taken it from

> the

> >"Career News," an in‑house publication on the Humboldt State campus.  The

> >article was entitled "Skills Employers Look For."

> >

> >"The top skill employers seek in new hires is the ability to communicate.

> >Students would do well to take every opportunity to hone this important

> >ability.  Join organizations and participate in projects, particularly in

> a

> >leadership role.  Take speech courses that focus on public speaking or

> >interpersonal skills.  Take every opportunity to develop your writing

> >skills.

> >

> >The annual employment forecast by the National Association of Colleges

> and

> >Employers, Job Outlook '99, included survey results focusing on the top

> >skills and personal characteristics sought in hiring.  They are:

> >

> >* Communication skills

> >* Work experience

> >* Motivation/initiative

> >* Teamwork skills

> >* Leadership abilities

> >* GPA/academic credentials

> >* Technical skills

> >* Interpersonal skills

> >* Analytical skills

> >* Ethics"

> >

> >

> >These were ranked in order of their importance to prospective employers.

> >The article goes on to say other stuff that you already know about the

> >importance of comm. skills, but I thought the above might be useful.

> >

> >G. Young



Hello Jim,


My name is Rafael Bito and I am Ede Warner's Grad Assistant at U of

Louisville.  A reason that I joined the debate not long ago was because I

was genuinely interested in the activity.  I think that many students do

not understand that one is able to walk on as a novice.  Public

announcements such as flyers or Campus news ads are always a good thing.


What we did this semester was to recruit thru our Argumentation and Debate

course.  We gave the class a competitive option wherein they participated

in two tournements and did not have to write a couple of papers, and also

received some leniancy on tests.  This gave us three extra novice teams

and half of them are interested in staying on next semester.  The

retention, I think, came from the enjoyment we facilitated nightly at each

tournement and their general improvement from the first tournement to the



As for high school recruitment.  The Louisville Debate Society

facilitates/runs the local county high school tournements.  It is much

like the urban debate leagues started in SF, NY, Atlanta, etc.   Urban or

local debate leagues are great venues for recruitment.  Scholoraships are

often offere to students in high school that are interested in continuing

their education and debate career.  This is probably not a unique

practice, but a good relationship in that College debaters and coaches

interact with the high school students has shown to be effective.  Ede

Warner recruited me from meeting me at the Bay Area Urban Debate League

summer camp.


Let me know if you need any more details.  Good luck.






I graduated and I don't debate any more...

I attended CSU Sacramento Undergrad.

My high school did not have a debate program.

I was recruited (recruited myself) out of a Com Stuies Argumentation class.

On Sat, 13 Nov 1999, Jim Hanson wrote:

> what do you do to get more novices?


Hook up with pre-law frat Phi Alpha Delta if your campus has a chapter,

or seek out the pre-law advisor for your school

Recruit in speech/argumentation classes, logic classes, and math classes, etc

Be nice to existion novices so they don't have horror stories.



> how do you connect with high school programs?


Send your debaters to judge high school tourneys



> what have you done to increase outreach to diverse groups of students?


Invite everyone to try debate; our coach would travel anyone to a local

tournament so they could get a feel for debate







perform a fun debate in front of an apogee or honors program of junior high



we only make an announcement at school over the loudspeaker with all

the other announcements but make it sound attractive (like talking

about its benefits, travelling, talking, current events, friends,

etc...  we too have a small team and this doesn't bring in a large

number but keeps the team at about a steady 10 members that stay

dedicated the entire year.  also, have current members recruit their



I was faced with similar circumstances last year, and well, I can give you a

few pointers on what ***NOT*** to do.  First of all don't pressure any of

your close friends to come and join.  They'll come in at first cuz' u say so

but then see all the work and book it...  Just mention to them there are

"debate tryouts" or something like that and it'll get in there head... that's

what worked the best.


Flyers don't really work (we plastered them everywhere)... I think what you

need to do is spark interest in debate and get those ppl who are willing to

become interested, not reach out to those who already are...  Maybe have like

mock debates with free pizza or something =)


One year we sent out a flyer to all people who enrolled in the speech class

asking anybody who wanted to debate in high school to go to the school one

day.  When the people showed up, we (the experienced debate team) told them

about LD and team.  This consisted of explaining it, Q and A, and then a demo

of each.  Afterward, we had a two week free camp.  We taught them how to

debate and gave them photocopies of some of our camp ev.  Then we had some

practice rounds.  We ended up getting 3 novice teams and 2 LDers.


The best way to get new kids is to get them to take the class and have TONS

of contact with varsity members.  Odds are that if they have friends that are

staying in debate or are already on the squad they will want to stay.  As for

wanting to attract people to join in the first place, have a nice teacher and

offer lots of extra credit for things like attending tournaments.  Lots of

kids have more fun at the tournaments, rather than sitting around a debate



this is all I got... If I get more, Ill get them to ya




Waco High Debate






The Great Plains Forensic Conference has recently been formed. We have no

formal officers. Jeff Gentry of Southwestern Oklahoma State University

( ) can provide a copy of our statement of





Assistant Director of Forensics

Creighton University

***A great recruiting source for us has been the basic public speaking

class.  There is usually one "stand-out" in each class, some of whom can

be persuaded to give the team a try.  We also send letters to all incoming

Freshmen who have previous experience in debate and forensics as indicated

on their application forms.  Finally, returning team members are

encouraged to recruit others from their own high schools.




Capital University


We have many new members join because we set up a booth at the student

activities fair each year.  Additionally, we have contests for the debaters who

bring the most new people into our squad.





Appalachian State University

I recruit a lot from the classes within our department like public speaking and argumentation and advocacy.  I also recruit from local high schools.  We have been fortunate enough to have been involved in the creation of two new high school programs in the area.  My students and I have done workshops for these schools.  We stay in contact with them by judging at tournaments they host and answering questions when they have any.




Boston College


Tips for recruiting:

The best way to recruit students is to expose them to debate.  Hold an

on campus public debate and invite students from other classes to

attend. Teach a debate class to students without any experience, and

there will be someone from the class interested in joining the debate







As you can maybe tell all of the above info was already available in a

brochure we've produced in house to give to prospective students in person

and through the mail. So I guess one tip is have all of the answers to the

questions above available in hard copy for interested students.


We try to make sure that some mebers of the squad are available when

students show up for a campus visit.  We then let our students talk about

why they like debate directly with the students we are meeting.


Steve and Gina offer to be campus liasions to deal with questions

prospective students might have about any aspect of campus, like majors,

financial aid, etc.  We let them know that we are happy to be a real face to

interact with when dealing with the institution even in terms of non-debate



We try to make it to local HS tournaments.


We encourage our students to make it to local HS tournaments to judge.


Hope the project goes well, thanks for the opportunity.


Best of Luck,




Middle Tennesee State University


What we do to recruit students:


We don't recruit high school students for two reasons:

1.  There are VERY FEW high school debaters in Tennessee

2.  We have very limited scholarships


So, we have to recruit raw novices and go from there.


We recruit novices the following ways:


1.  We target incoming Freshmen that are "Presidential Scholars."  Those people

get a campus scholarship that is full tuition, room and board.  We send them

letters specifically encouraging them to try debate.


2.  We target second year Poli Sci, History, Philosophy, and other Liberal Arts

majors with over a 3.0 their first year of college and send them letters

specifically encouraging them to try debate.


3.  We hold an Open House, putting up flyers around campus, having professors

annnounce that we are having the open house, and so on, to try and get students

to try debate.  We generally get some people to learn about it.


4.  We ask professors in the speech department to recommend students who might

be willing to participate and would make good candidates.


5.  We engage in public debates and suggest that people stop by and talk to us

about intercollegiate debate if what they heard is interesting to them.


We generally have 2-3 varsity/junior varsity teams and 2-3 novice teams after

engaging in these recruiting activities.


The problem of not having scholarships is that it is hard to get students since

so many have to work, and debate takes away from that ability.


Thanks for engaging this project!  I'm sure that it will be most helpful.






University of Georgia


TIP-- Students should select a school that they will enjoy if they choose

to leave debate for any period of their matriculation.


TIP-- It's not the size of the initial scholarship but the conditions

for maintaining the award and the real cost of the institution that

students should consider.




George Mason University


Actually, there is an old article by Kevin Dean and somebody else (his

significant other?) when they were at Ball State that is just fabulous on

recruitment.  They basically focus on _on-campus_ recruitment, which is

the focus we have taken at GMU.  I'm not sure I can add much to the

article's great ideas!!