How to find a good college essay topic

A college essay doesn’t need to strike fear into your heart if you know how to become well prepared before writing it. Some students believe that research is the most important part of the essay writing process. While it does play a big role, the choosing of the topic is actually the pinnacle of a great college essay.

The first part to finding a good topic is starting with a very general idea. From there, you will have to go through a narrowing down process to get a topic that’s specific enough to cover adequately in the scope of your paper.

Here are some ideas of places you can look for general topic ideas:

  • Browse the local and national newspapers
  • Brainstorm with some other students or family members
  • Look through your class materials, such as your textbook
  • Research online for good topics
  • Take a good long walk. You may see something that sparks an idea in your brain or you may be able to let your mind wander until you remember something that you’d like to explore as an essay topic

Once you’ve chosen a general topic, it’s now time to narrow it down. Most college essays have a limit on the number of words or number of pages the instructor will accept. You should have a topic narrow enough to get good coverage within the limit of essay size.

How to narrow down your broad topic:

  • Find one detail within the large idea and focus on it
  • Do a new twist on an old topic
  • Think of how the topic affects one small and specific group of people and expound on the effects

Relax and remember that this is a great opportunity for you to mull an idea around in your head and see what develops. Your essay topic should be as unique as you are. Don’t fall into the trap of taking the first essay idea you see online and using the exact same one. Your instructor has probably seen it done hundreds of times already. An individual, concise topic is one that will be the easiest to write about as well as make the best impression.

When writing, be sure that all your main points always support the topic. This will help you stay on track and not get lost on a tangent writing about something that is only vaguely related to your essay.