Sometimes, freedom isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. This is especially true when it comes to writing college essays. Although you may grumble and complain about the assigned essay topics you have to write about, choosing your own essay topic is often much harder. Without the right guidance, you can end up picking a topic that couldn’t be explained in 100 pages, or one that is only worth a paragraph.
Here are some helpful hints on how to choose a great essay topic for any type of essay.
In a persuasive essay, you are asked to argue an opinion or point of view. When you’re choosing a topic for a persuasive essay, make sure that you:
1 - Choose Something You Have An Opinion About
Your argument is not going to be very good if you pick something you don’t care about. If you care about the legalization of marijuana, that’s a good topic for you to start working with
2 - Pick An Issue You Can See Both Sides Of
In an argumentative essay, you need to be able to see the issue from multiple perspectives so that you’ll have a stronger case when refuting the opposition
3 - Write to Persuade
If you care about legalizing marijuana, your topic needs to be about why someone should allow the legalization of marijuana. All your points should reflect why someone should make a legislative change to this end
In an explanatory essay, you are showing why or how something should be done. When you’re choosing a topic for this type of essay, you need to:
1 - Choose a Topic You Fully Understand
You will need to know a process or concept well enough to explain how it works from beginning to end.
2 - Be Specific
You could choose a topic like, “How to Rebuild an Engine,” but that is a huge process that would take a long time to write. Instead, choose a small, discrete process like, “How to Make Cheese.” This is just intricate enough to be interesting, but not so long you can’t finish it.
3 - Gather Information
Make sure you have concrete details that support the information in your essay, such as quotes, diagrams, or pictures.
Compare and Contrast Essay
In a comparison essay, you need to show that you can find similarities and differences between two people, books, or concepts. In these essays, you should:
1 - Choose Two Topics That Have Obvious Similarities and Differences
Before you begin writing, make sure that you have chosen topics or people that have many differences and similarities you can choose from.
2 - Pick Individual People or Topics, Don’t Combine
Again, you don’t want to have a paper that is too broad in scope. Choose individual people, places, or ideas that have a few interesting comparisons.
3 - Find Interesting and Novel Comparisons
No one wants to read an essay about how your uncle and your dad are both men. Instead, talk about how they both were in wars, although both dealt with the emotional trauma differently. That’s a comparison/contrast subject that is provocative and interesting.
Narrative or Descriptive Essay
In a narrative essay (or personal essay, it’s sometimes called), the goal is to tell a story. Often, these are combined with descriptive essays, which are designed to make you feel as though you are in a particular place or time. When choosing a subject for these essays, you should:
1 - Pick a Transformative Event
In a narrative essay, you need to choose an event where you change. Maybe it’s the moment you realize that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, or the time you change your first flat tire. You need to be able to show the growth of the characters – even if that character is you.
2 - Choose an Event That Is Contained
Instead of writing about an ongoing illness, write about a quintessential moment that defined the entire illness experience. Your narrative should only be between 3-10 pages, so pick an event that can be fully explained in that amount of space.
3 - Include Dialogue and Description
You can choose from many experiences, but try to pick one that includes other people and places that will allow you to include dialogue and descriptive passages.
Use Your Freedom Wisely
Whatever your assignment is, remember that the best essays know what the goal is and know how to achieve it. Thus, you’ll have a better idea on how to pick a topic that is specific, interesting, and tailored to the requirements of your writing class.
What was your best essay idea? What interesting topics were you assigned with? What topics do you consider the most complicated to write about? We want to hear from you!