Michigan Debate Team Recruiting

Building Success in 2010-2011

The University of Michigan's Intercollegiate Debating Team dates back to the year 1890, establishing it as one of the oldest debate programs in the United States. The program is currently under the direction of Director Aaron Kall and Assistant Director David Heidt. The Michigan Debate Team also has four additional assistant coaches: Whit Whitmore, Nick Miller, Jason Peterson, and Josh Clark.

Consistent Competitive Accomplishment

During the last forty years the Michigan program has been one of the most successful in the nation. Two times Michigan teams have reached the finals of the National Debate Tournament; three other times the Michigan program was ranked #1 by an NDT ranking system, including the recent Michigan team of Scott Hessell and Corey Stoughton who won the Copeland Award as the outstanding team in the nation in 1997. Michigan has reached the Semifinals of the NDT five times, most recently in 2008.

Since 1971, 33 Michigan teams have cleared at the NDT. 16 Michigan teams have received First Round At-Large Invitations to the NDT, and 19 debaters have won speaker awards at the NDT, including the Top Speaker, Matt Shors, in 1993. Michigan also boasted the Second Speaker at the NDT in 1997 and 2002.

In addition to our outstanding performances at the NDT, Michigan debate teams have won and received high speaker awards at all of the largest national tournaments, including: The University of Northern Iowa, The Kentucky Round Robin, Kentucky, Harvard, Wake Forest, The Redlands Round Robin, The Dartmouth Round Robin, and Northwestern.

Oftentimes, prospective debaters address concerns about balancing debate excellence with academic accomplishment. The Michigan Debate Team prides itself in the consistent academic accomplishments of all of its debaters. The large majority of Michigan's debaters have excelled academically. The current cumulative grade point average of the Debate Team is 3.77 and the grade point average of the team in the 2010 winter semester was 3.76. To travel a Michigan debater must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (one of the highest requirements in the nation). This success is reflected by their matriculation to the nation's leading law and graduate programs: Harvard Law; Yale Law; Stanford Law; Chicago Law; Michigan Law; Texas Law; Georgetown Law; Columbia International Relations; Berkeley Philosophy; and Berkeley Political Science.

Not only does the Michigan Debate Team pride itself in the academic success of its debaters, it also boasts one of the most diverse roster of successful debaters in the nation. Seven women, Denise Loshbough (1988, 1989), Jennifer Ouding (1993), Ellen Oberwetter (1997), Corey Stoughton (1996, 1997, 1998), Lesley Wexler (1997, 1998) Adriana Midence (2000, 2001, 2002), and Maria Liu (2009, 2010) reached the elimination rounds of the NDT a combined 14 times. Four Hispanic students, Mike Dickler (1995, 1996), Jason Hernandez (1997, 1999), Gabriel Scannapieco (1999, 2000), Adriana Midence (2000, 2001, 2002) have qualified for the elimination rounds of the NDT, a combined total of nine times. Currently, the University of Michigan debate team hopes to welcome students of all backgrounds and orientations.

Strong Program Support for Debaters

University of Michigan debaters receive instruction from six debate coaches. All of these coaches devote their entire professional energies toward achieving the improvement of their debaters. We also have a large team budget that offers complete payment of all debate-related expenses, both in Ann Arbor and during travel.

Employment Opportunities and Experience

The Michigan Debate Team operates some of the nation's most prestigious and successful institutes for high school students. Debaters at Michigan typically work as resident advisers and then ultimately as teachers at our workshops, offering valuable experience and income. Michigan workshops enroll about 300 high school students, from about 35 states, each summer.

Frequently Asked Questions
-Do I have to be a high school star to debate at Michigan?

Nothing could be further from the truth. A good deal of our most successful debaters have been little known in high school. Our #1 goal is to help you achieve your potential. However, some experience in high school cross-examination (or policy) debate is probably important.

-Is it true that to debate at Michigan is a huge time commitment?

That's up to you. One of the guiding philosophies of our program is that hard work is its own reward. And it's probably fair to say that our reputation as a hard working debate program is well-founded. However, Michigan debaters still find time for extremely active social lives, and succeed academically as well. To be successful at any endeavor a person must contribute substantial work. If you want to be a great debater that will require a commitment to hard work. One non-negotiable requirement is making good grades. Nobody who debates for Michigan can travel unless they have above a 3.0 grade point average both cumulatively and also in any particular semester.

-Isn't the Michigan squad enormous, I'll never get to travel?

Now is a great time to start debating for Michigan. Next fall we will have extensive early opportunities for first-year debaters. We have a large budget to travel every debater to national-level tournaments. Our first-year debaters can travel from Boston to California. However, travel is always determined by a combination of work ethic, talent, grades, and an ability to help the team excel.

-Am I eligible for any scholarships?

Depending on your grades and scores, you may be eligible for The Shipman and Stamps Scholarships, which are the two largest merit-based scholarships UM Awards.

The purpose of the Shipman Scholarship is to provide incentive merit scholarships for talented prospective undergraduate students admitted to the University of Michigan. Prospective students of high academic achievement who have been admitted as first year undergraduates will be nominated for consideration through the Admissions process. Academic achievement will be determined on the basis of a set standard of high school grade point average and SAT/ACT test scores. Exceptional talent in the arts and sciences will also be considered in the nomination process. The award value of the scholarship is approximately $80,000. The monetary value of the Shipman Scholarship is $12,000 per year for four years of undergraduate study plus room and board (about $8,000 per year) for recipients who choose to live in U-M residence halls. Fifteen Shipman Scholarships will be awarded annually. Prospective nominees must be admitted to the University of Michigan no later than January 15. Recipients will be notified by March 30. Further information can be found here:

The Stamps Scholarship provides merit scholarships for the brightest and most outstanding undergraduate students admitted to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and other UM schools and colleges. Prospective students of high academic achievement, who has been admitted as first-year undergraduates, will be nominated for consideration through the admissions process. Academic achievement will be determined on the basis of a set standard of high school point average and SAT/ACT scores. Exceptional talent in the arts and sciences will also be considered in the nomination process. The LSA Stamps Scholarship for non-residents consists of $20,000 annual award ($10,000 provided by the Stamps Scholarship Fund and an additional $10,000 LSA Dean's Scholarship), renewable for four years of undergraduate study. For Michigan residents awarded the LSA Stamps Scholarship, $12,500 ($10,000 provided by the Stamps Scholarship Fund and a $2,500 LSA Dean's Scholarship) will be awarded annually and is renewable for four years of undergraduate study. Further information can be found here:

-Now that I'm interested, what do I do?

You should contact Aaron Kall ( the Director of the debate team. The most important thing you can do is to fill out the application to attend the University of Michigan ( The earlier you have an application in the system the more chance you have to be accepted. In addition, you should check your scores and grades against the grades and scores of the "average admittedstudent" and also check your high school records against the requirements for application.


Generally the closer you are to the band of admission requirements the more likely we are to be able to help you gain admission.

Final Application Hints:

Make sure your application is 100 percent complete when you apply. Each year, debate recruits forget things like essays, Guidance Counselor recommendations, test scores, etc. If all of these things aren't received, your application isn't considered complete and they can?t make a decision. It's easy to check the status of your application by logging onto the UM application webpage. When applying, make sure to check the Debate/Speech box as an activity. This will code you as a high school debater and debate recruit with the admissions people. Michigan is looking for well-rounded students. It's good to stress debate, but make sure to include other extra-curricular activities on your application. Finally, make sure to maintain a good relationship with your Guidance Counselor. UM Admissions Officers often visit or speak with your Guidance Counselors if your decision is close. A positive recommendation from a Guidance Counselor can go a long way.