60 Debate Topics for High Schoolers

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What’s Covered:

 

Learning to view, think, and discuss ideas from contrasting viewpoints builds a host of skills that will benefit high schoolers both in and out of the classroom—including improving public speaking, reinforcing listening, and sharpening research. Good debate topics for high school students are key to lively discussion and an engaged classroom; they’re issues that students care about. 

 

What Makes a Good Debate Topic?

 

A good debate topic for high school is one that inspires students to think and learn about both sides of the issue. There are a few factors to consider when searching for good debate topics for high school students.

 

  • Clear Idea: A good debate topic clearly, simply, and specifically states an often complex idea that students can argue the affirmative (pro) side of and the negative (con) side of.

 

  • Interest: The more interesting the topic is, the more engaged and excited students are to take positions and defend them. 

 

  • Passion: Topics that students feel strongly about work well. If students are super-passionate about a particular issue, it can challenge them to see both sides of the argument. 

 

  • Argument: Good debate topics do not have a clear “right” answer—rather, they have opposing views that participants can make persuasive arguments in favor of or against. 

 

  • Evidence: The availability of evidence and data is key to a good debate topic; without them, participants are merely stating a personal position on a topic. 

 

  • Avoid Cliches: There are a handful of topics that seem to always materialize for debates and can cause students to lose interest. 

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Good Debate Topics for Teens

 

Education

 

  • Are the arts an important aspect of education? 
  • Should we make financial education mandatory? 
  • Should students attend school year-round? 
  • Should schools punish students for bullying that occurs outside of school?
  • Will computers replace teachers in the future?
  • Should students grade their teachers?
  • Should all high school sports become gender-neutral?
  • Is a college education as valuable as it once was? 
  • Are student loans exploitative? 
  • Is it time to eliminate standardized tests? 

 

Science and Technology

 

  • Is social media making us less social?
  • Is Google the best search engine or just the one we’re accustomed to using? 
  • Is Android better than iOS? 
  • Will technology save the world or destroy it? 
  • Can the law keep pace with technology?
  • Is the future of school online?
  • Will cryptocurrencies replace cash?   
  • Is technology taking jobs or creating them? 
  • Should every American have the right to access the internet? 
  • Are electronic libraries more equitable than traditional ones? 

 

Government and Politics

 

  • Should the government make vaccinations mandatory?
  • Is it time for Supreme Court justices to have term limits? 
  • Should we make voting mandatory?
  • Should we make all drugs legal?
  • Is it time to decriminalize sex work? 
  • Is our privacy more important than national security?
  • Is it fair to take the right to vote away from felons? 
  • Should we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour?
  • Should the government provide universal basic income? 
  • Is providing healthcare the job of the government?
  • Can governments implement policies that will actually combat climate change?   

 

Society

 

  • Should we allow the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports?
  • Should we remove racial epithets from books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
  • Can the U.S. achieve gender equality?
  • Is nationalism beneficial or dangerous? 
  • Does religion do more harm than good?
  • Should we bar police from using lethal force?
  • Do we still need the institution of marriage? 
  • Can the U.S. ever achieve racial equality?
  • Are we living in a dystopian society?

 

Health 

 

  • Should we punish or help drug addicts? 
  • Is bad parenting responsible for the rise in childhood obesity?
  • Should we sell birth control over the counter? 
  • Is it time to ban cigarettes and vaping? 
  • Are alternative medicines helpful or harmful?

 

Business

 

  • Should we ban businesses from advertising to children?
  • Is the eight-hour workday outdated? 
  • Should we treat corporations like people?
  • Should corporations be involved in politics? 
  • Is remote work the future of employment? 

 

Culture 

 

  • Is gaming a sport? 
  • Are books a better entertainment option than television?
  • Should social media companies censor content? 
  • Is civil disobedience the most effective form of protest? 
  • Should we ban football? 

 

Fun

 

  • Should Black Friday sales start on Thanksgiving Day?
  • What better determines success: skill or will?
  • Should you feel guilty for killing zombies during the zombie apocalypse? 
  • Should you choose pizza toppings based on taste or nutrition? 
  • Are hot dogs sandwiches?

 

Where to Get Feedback on Your Debate Arguments 

 

A vital part of debate preparation is to test your arguments to ensure they specifically address the topic and collectively form a cohesive point. Make sure you consider both sides of the argument to better be prepared for a rebuttal.

 

Before stepping up to argue your side of the issue, test your argument on CollegeVine’s free peer review essay tool to get feedback for free from a peer!

 

As you get ready for college, it is important to understand how your extracurriculars, like debate, factor into your chances of acceptance. Check out our free chancing calculator to find the best-fit school for you.

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.