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Selecting a College Essay Topic

Choosing a college essay topic is reported by students to be one of the most difficult parts of writing the college admission essay. Since the essay provides an excellent opportunity to differentiate yourself with the admissions committee, it is important to pick a good topic.

Many applicants stress over writing the college admission essay because they worry about how accurately they represent themselves. Some colleges might ask prospective students to answer one or more college-specific essay questions. Or in other cases you might choose from essay questions on the Common Application.

College Essay Topic Selecting

Other schools may have students come up with their own topic. There are many ways to generate ideas for selecting a college essay topic. Here are a few suggested approaches to take:

To stimulate your mind, try asking yourself some questions:

  • What was your scariest experience?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What inspires you?
  • Who is your mentor and why?
  • Have you had an epiphany about yourself? What was it and how did it change you?
  • What was your biggest disappointment and how did you learn from it?
  • What experience changed your life?
  • What challenges or obstacles have you overcome? How did you overcome them? What did you learn from the experience?

Get your creative juices flowing by writing about the following:

  • What is your favorite place that you have ever visited? What made it special?
  • What are your favorite activities? How have they shaped your life for the better?
  • What was your most embarrassing moment? What did you learn from that experience?
  • What words would teachers, friends, and family use to describe you? Give examples by demonstrating those qualities in a particular situation.
  • What are your favorite books? What did you learn from them? How did they shape your life?
  • What influences you? How did you grow as a person for the better?

Reading another person’s life story will help guide and inspire you to choose your own college essay topic.

Here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Ask family, friends, and librarians for book recommendations.
  • Pick a person who personally influenced you.
  • Choose a life story that is similar in nature to yours.
  • Select a life story that is written in the same style as your essay.


In general, when selecting a college essay topic, it is wise to ask yourself a series of questions to develop some creative ideas. After selecting a college essay topic, brainstorm, outline, and finally, write the essay.

Always remember to have someone else read your essay aloud to you, so you can assess it for content and style. It is equally important to have someone else proof your essay for spelling and grammar errors. This will provide many opportunities for revisions. Also check out College Admissions Unlocked: How to Write a College Application Essay. This article highlights several steps students should follow when writing the college admissions essay.
Good Luck!