How to Choose Essay Topics: an Explicit Guide for College Students

Beginning an Essay

All throughout college, you will be asked to write essay after essay after essay!  Just starting your essay can seem like a daunting task in itself.  But do not fear, perhaps the hardest part is deciding on a topic.  Once the topic is chosen, the essay seems to fall into place.  Most instructors will let you have a pretty open range of topics to choose from, which can make it hard to choose the topic when you have no idea where to start!

Think about the subject of the class.  You do not want to write about paper airplane structures when you are taking a class all about the anatomy of certain animals.  Next, which chapter are you on?  Is the current section all about cows, whereas the last few sections have been about bulls?  Maybe writing your essay about cows is the more practical choice, however it is not always so black and white.

If it just so happens to be that black and white, the next step is to decide on how much information you want to include in your essay.  For instance, if you are studying the anatomy of cows, maybe you want to focus specifically on the muscles in the heart rather than the entire muscular system.  Trying to fit in too much information can cause your essay to be confusing and off-topic at times.

Tips on Choosing a Topic

  • Ask the instructor if there is a list of topics that you cannot write about
  • Decide on how broad you want the scope to be
  • Figure out what interests you the most in that class
  • Brainstorm for ideas
  • Pick something you already know a thing or two about

Writing Your Essay

Once that topic is chosen, the essay will soon follow.  The final step to writing your essay is creating an outline of how you want your essay to be flow.  Sometimes, after you create the outline, you will know if the topic you have chosen will be a good or bad topic.  At this point, it may be wise to switch topics and start again (hopefully, you have a list of other great topics to choose from after using the tips from above).  Keep in mind that you can switch topics at any point during the writing process, even at the end when your paper is written, in case you could not make strong enough points throughout.  Hopefully these tips are helpful to you during the writing process.

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