When seeking out extracurriculars that will impress college admissions officers, many high school students turn to Debate Club. Debating is an essential life skill that college educated professionals especially will use in a range of settings throughout their careers. It’s also useful for those college-level discussions that you’re headed for in your university classes.
If you’ve joined a debate club or team at your high school, or you’re running one for students, you’ll want to consider using debate topics for high school that give young debaters exposure to college prep topics and debating skills.
Good High School Debate Topics
What makes a good debate topic? Great debate topics for high school students should be engaging, relevant, and encourage critical thinking. It’s important to choose debate topics that have clear arguments and sides. Students need to be able to research to support their arguments, so choose topics that have strong data points. It’s also important to choose topics that are of interest to the students, moderators, and audience. Interesting topics will inevitably create a more interesting debate.
To help you get started, here are some examples of high school debate topics that will equip learners with knowledge and skills they need for a successful college career, and beyond:
Health and Wellness Topics
Health and wellness debates can be influenced by individual beliefs, values, and ideologies. People may have strong convictions about specific health practices making this an engaging topic to debate. Overall, health and wellness high school debate topics help students engage and understand the complexities of the health industry and make informed decisions for their own wellbeing. Examples include:
Are GMOs in food safe?
Are supplemental vitamins necessary?
Do workout supplements improve performance?
Should caffeine be a controlled substance for athletes?
Should athletes be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs?
Should the drinking age be increased to 25?
Should drinking alcohol be outlawed?
Should psychedelic mushrooms be legalized?
Should the government provide free healthcare?
Should health insurance be eliminated?
Should the government impose a tax on “junk food”?
Is access to healthcare a basic right?
Should drivers be charged for driving when sleep deprived, even if no harm was caused?
Should vaping be outlawed?
What are the drawbacks of a minimalist lifestyle?
Has the legalization of marijuana been beneficial to the health of humans?
Should alternative medicines and treatments be used in hospitals?
Do desk jobs that require sitting cause long term health problems?
Should health insurance cover alternative treatments like massage and chiropractic
Is the portrayal of beauty in the media creating destructive health habits like eating disorders?
Does requiring vaccinations in schools protect students from sickness?
Is the push for body positivity helpful or harmful?
What is the role of meditation and mindfulness in reducing stress?
Science and Technology Topics
Science and technology debates allow students to look to the future and discuss thought provoking scenarios of possible outcomes that will impact society. Ever changing technology opens up questions of ethical and moral advancements and the role of government regulations – think AI, social media, and robotics. These topics give students an opportunity to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a variety of technological advancements.
Should cell phones be used in class?
Should Chatgpt be used in classrooms?
Should children use computers in elementary school?
Do video games promote brain development?
Do video games promote violence?
Should governments have access to private citizens data?
Is AI a threat to jobs and the economy?
Who should be held responsible if an autonomous vehicle causes an accident?
Should self-driving cars be programmed to protect the driver or others on the road?
Should people have the right to remove their information from online sources?
Are big tech companies, like Google, monopolies and should they be broken up?
Is wearable technology harmful to the wearer?
Is deepfake technology a threat to public safety?
Do drones impact personal privacy?
What are the long term effects of screen time on children’s development and well-being?
High school students are in the trenches of the educational system and have strong opinions about what’s working and not working from their personal perspective. High school debate topics centered on education gives them the voice and platform to shape their own experience as students, and opens them up to new ideas to implement in their own schools.
Should parents control the curriculum in their children’s school?
Do uniforms help improve student success rates?
Are standardized tests improving comprehension?
Should schools focus on more art education?
Should students choose a career path in high school?
Is homeschooling a better option vs. traditional school?
Should religion ever be taught in public education?
Do students with access to private school education have better careers?
Should STEM be the #1 focus of education?
Should social and emotional learning be taught in elementary schools?
Should classrooms be accommodating to neurodivergent students?
Should public funds be used for charter and private school?
Should college tuition be paid by the government like public schools?
Do classroom curriculums stifle creativity?
Debating the social issues that affect their personal lives gives students a chance to advocate for new ways of thinking, and be open to learning other perspectives. High school students are often interested in championing for a more just and equitable society, and debate topics for high school is one avenue for them to do so. These topics can help students grow into the social change leaders of tomorrow – or today!
Should art be censored?
Are zoos ethical in their treatment of animals?
Should convicted felons be allowed to vote?
Should misinformation be censored on social media?
Should algorithms be regulated on social media?
What are the effects of city planning on the well-being of a society?
Should anyone be able to immigrate to another country?
What are the benefits and drawbacks of the sharing economy as an alternative to traditional consumerism?
Is mass farming ethical in the treatment of animals?
Would the introduction of public transportation result in better communities?
Should there be an age limit in the workplace?
What is the impact of consumerism on mental health, including issues like materialism and retail therapy?
How can police departments be reformed to reduce violence?
What is the impact of the influencer movement on social media?
Should developed countries provide financial aid to support developing nations?
Is pet ownership an ethical practice that maintains animal rigths?
How can we address the homeless epidemic?
Is the pursuit of early retirement a viable and fulfilling lifestyle choice?
What policies should be implemented to decrease the wealth gap?
Should there be stricter regulations on gun control?
Is the foster care system harmful to children?
Should military funding be used in the promotion of peace initiatives?
Does voluntourism harm local communities?
Is cohabitation before marriage beneficial or harmful to relationships?
High school students must prepare to inherit the world. And the world has an array of environmental challenges, which have a real-time impact and consequences that students can see in their own communities. High school debate topics that address the environment allow them to explore potential solutions and be part of the efforts to address environmental problems they will be tasked to solve in the coming years.
Should nuclear energy be used as a primary energy source?
Should wind turbines be built in populated communities?
Is space exploration a top priority for humanity?
Is travel damaging to the environment and local communities?
Should private jets be regulated to reduce carbon emissions?
Should bees be protected to increase food production?
Is light pollution causing harm to local wildlife?
Do carbon offsetting programs work?
What are appropriate actions for addressing climate change?
Should companies be required to offset their carbon footprint?
Is noise pollution causing harm to local wildlife?
Should non-native grasses and plants be removed from communities?
Is fast fashion a rising issue when it comes to environmental pollution?
Should there be greater emphasis on product quality and durability to promote sustainable consumer choices?
Debating political issues gets students to be active in the democratic process, even if they are not of voting age. Many political issues are current events, which many high school students are drawn to. Politically-focused debate topics for high school helps students explore issues that are relevant to their generation, and shows they can contribute to shaping the future of their communities and their country.
Should there be federal regulations on misinformation spread via social media?
Should the government restrict access to social media sites if there’s a threat of international
Does a two party political system fully represent the needs of all members of society?
What changes, if any, should be made to the electoral system to improve representation and accountability?
Is cyber security a top priority to protect the voting process?
Should there be changes to voting laws to increase voter participation and accessibility?
Should there be term limits set on all political seats?
How can the criminal justice system be reformed to address issues of racial disparities?
Should there be age minimums and maximums for government positions?
Is there enough political representation to recognize the rights of young people?
Should there be more youth outreach to increase interest in political issues?
What actions should governments take to combat climate change and promote environmental sustainability?
How can governments ensure equal access to quality education?
Should social welfare programs be expanded or limited, and how can they best support those in need?
Preparing for success
The ability to debate – and convince – is that takes practice and dedication to master. Using college prep debate topics for high school, and with guidance from teachers and mentors, high school students can become confident debaters while learning life skills like public speaking and critical thinking. Studying debate equips high school students with lifelong skills that are beneficial in academic, personal, and professional pursuits, making it a rewarding and enriching educational experience. In other words, the ultimate college prep.