College essay writing tips

A Guide to Choosing Good College Essay Topics For Students

Writing an essay can be pretty challenging, especially when it’s one of the most important papers you will have to write in your life. Yes, we are talking about admission letters that can potentially get you into college! Sure, your achievements, qualifications, and certificates matter, but a lot depends on the college essay topics you choose for yourself.

So, are you feeling a little bit overwhelmed? Don’t worry; this guide will help you navigate through the difficult task of creating a perfect college essay, whether it’s for the admission office or just homework for your class. 

What Is a Good Essay Topic?

Let’s start with the basics so we are on the same page about what makes the best college essay topics. Sometimes, professors let you choose the subject of your paper. Basically, your topic should be related to three things:

  • Something you are already good at;
  • Something you would like to learn more about;
  • Something that you care about.

By following these suggestions, you can narrow down almost any subject and select something interesting for you.

What to Consider Before Getting Started?

You should remember that essay topics for college students are not limited to a specific subject only. Sometimes, your teacher will give you a strict subject that requires a definite answer. But in the case of more open-ended discussions or admission essays, you need to consider several things that will help you craft a perfect essay question that will be relevant to you in general.

Your Background, Identity, or Talents

You might not think about it, but your upbringing and cultural background play a huge part in your education. These factors shape the way you think, so you need to explore your own identity so you can share your unique point of view in your homework. Almost all college essay topics can be presented from different points of view. 

So, you could write about an experience that shaped your identity, a challenge that you overcame, or a talent that you found in yourself. You can also explore a topic from the point of view of your culture or even the language that you speak!

Your Challenges

Every challenge in your life is a valuable experience. You can always take something away from it, learn from your mistakes, and carry this experience through life. The same goes for your college essay topics to write about! You might not think that some small challenge from five years ago would matter when you write your essay, but it certainly does.

Every bad or good experience changes the way we think. Writing about your challenges can help you show college admissions officers that you are resilient and resourceful. It can also help you demonstrate your ability to learn from your mistakes and overcome obstacles.

Your Core Values and Beliefs

This might be one of the most important things that you can add to your essay. It doesn’t matter if you are writing an admission letter or just looking for unique college essay topics for the future. Writing about your core values and beliefs can help you prove to your readers that you are a thoughtful and compassionate person in general.

You can also emphasize how a certain value or belief can help you connect with others, like classmates or teachers. Focus on one principle that’s important to you and depict how it has shaped your life in the past. 

Your Role Models

Writing about your role models can help you demonstrate what kind of people you respect and why. That’s also a good starting point for talking about your future. For example, you could write about a role model who has inspired you and how they have influenced your life. 

In general, most good essay topics for college relate to the subject of role models in one way or another. In most cases, this shows your life priorities, core values, and what you want to achieve in the future. So, you better have a plan before you start writing!

Your Accomplishments and Goals

This goes without saying, but when you apply to college, you need to praise yourself as much as you can. Any informative essay topics for college need to include your list of achievements. You might want to mention any kind of relevant certificates, volunteering experience, or hobbies that are connected to your future career. Think of this as your resume!

Your goals are also an indicator of what you want out of your life. Describing them on paper and presenting them to the reader can help you materialize your goals. You can also mention programs or resources that will help you achieve your objectives.

Your Academic and Personal Interests

This shouldn’t be a surprise to you at this point that readers want to know more personal stuff about you. This might not be as relevant for argumentative essay topics for college students, but this is definitely the case with admission letters. In other words, you can explore more of your academic and personal interests when you are writing about something personal.

Consider adding some of these things to your paper:

  • Your hobbies or extracurricular activities;
  • Specific research areas that interest you;
  • Clubs or organizations that you belong to;
  • School subjects that you like the most.

Your Character and Qualities

This is not the same as talking about your core values and beliefs. Basically, you need to tell who you are as a person in general. The best college essay topics that stand out are those that are written from the bottom of your heart.

For example, you could write about a character trait that you are proud of or a quality that you are working on developing. Developing a positive trait or living a healthy lifestyle can be hard. So, you can definitely brag about it in your paper!

Discover the Best Topic for You

Even though you can find some good essay topics for college online, it’s always better to write from your heart. Let’s see how you can create the best paper that will definitely get you the best grade or a college spot!

Start With Your Qualities

Maybe there is something you are extremely passionate about or good at. Or maybe there are some challenges that you are overcoming right now, and you want to share this journey with your readers.

Once you have a good understanding of your own qualities, you can start to brainstorm the best college essay topics that will allow you to demonstrate them to the readers. For example, if you are passionate about social justice, you could write an essay about a time when you stood up for what you believed in. Let’s take a look at what you can ask yourself based on your qualities:

  • What are your strong and weak points?
  • What are your goals for the future?
  • What makes you stand out from the rest of the students?

Share Your Story

One of the best ways to create a compelling paper is to share your story. This will create a connection with the readers and show you in a different light. This could be a story about a challenge that you overcame, a success that you achieved, or a lesson that you learned. Don’t forget to focus on your own unique perspective!

Your story needs to go somewhere to qualify for good argumentative essay topics for college. Think about what you have learned from this experience. How did it shape you as a person? Or maybe this challenge helped you achieve some of your goals for the future? 

What’s interesting about this section is that it can reflect anything you want about yourself. 

Engage Your Reader and Talk It Through

This is the next step after you have chosen what to write about. You need to guide your reader through the paper. It’s also important to write in such a way that your reader will be engaged from the first sentence. This means you have to write clearly, use understandable language, and share your thoughts and feelings.

When it comes to creating admission college essay topics, it’s very important to let them know the real you, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through the paper! 

Here are some tips:

  • Write clearly and up to the point;
  • Be honest and open-minded;
  • Always proofread your essay carefully before submitting it.

Top 20 Examples of College Essay Topics

In case you need some inspiration, here are some ideas for unique college essay topics. You can use them for your papers or think of something similar with a unique spin. 

A Challenge You Faced and How You Overcame It

This is an excellent way to show that you are resilient, can solve problems, and are ready to conquer obstacles. These are valuable qualities for any student, so it’s a classic college essay topic for a reason. 

An Experience That Shaped You as a Person

Persuasive essay topics for college often help you convince admission offices to accept you into their institution. Sharing a story that is meaningful to you means that you are ready to be vulnerable. 

A Person Who Has Inspired You

Similar to talking about your role models, drawing inspiration from people around you can be a great essay topic. Talk about a person who had a positive impact on your life and explain why you admire them.

A Cause That You Are Passionate About

Here, you can share your beliefs and values if you don’t know what to write about. Good college essay topics always include your passions and reveal why you care about them.

A Goal That You Are Working Toward

This topic allows you to write about your objectives and aspirations. Many college application essay topics ask the applicants to write why they want to go to this institution in particular.

A Time When You Had to Stand Up for What You Believed In

You need to be able to show courage and conviction. Think about a time when you had to demonstrate your principles and ethical values. This will make an excellent subject choice, especially when you are willing to advocate for meaningful change!

A Time When You Had to Make a Difficult Decision

This is a great option for compare and contrast essay topics for college students! Here, you can reflect on a tough choice and demonstrate your decision-making skills and ethical judgment.

A Time When You Failed at Something and Learned From Your Mistake

Don’t shy away from your mistakes! Take something that you have learned from them and turn this experience into your own journey of personal growth. Admission officers like to read about such adversities.

A Time When You Had to Work Really Hard to Achieve Something

This is the time to reveal your dedication and hard work. College is all about working really hard, meeting deadlines, and creating your own schedule. Show your work ethic in your essay!

A Time When You Overcame a Fear

This doesn’t have to be a near-death experience or something that you are not ready to share. Without overstepping any boundaries, try to explain how you conquered your fear and adapted to new circumstances.

A Time When You Encountered a Setback and Changed Your Plans

This is a great example of most college argumentative essay topics, as you show your resilience, adaptability, and arguments in favor of changing your pre-existing plan.

A Time When You Found Someone to Look Up To

This is not the same as talking about your role model. Try explaining exactly the moment when you discovered your admiration for a person and what made you think in such a way. This story might be much more interesting!

A Time When You Realized Your Weaknesses

Everybody always talks about their strengths, but you can put an interesting spin on that story. All human beings have their own weaknesses, so it might be beneficial for you to explore how you adapted to your own flaws.

A Time When You Discovered Your Passion

Your passions can be related to your future career, college choice, or goals in life. In any case, this is a classic topic for your application letter. Talk about how your hobbies turned into a lifelong passion.

A Time When Your Worldview Changed

Here, you can talk about a traumatic event or about something positive that had a profound impact on your life. It’s good to show that you are willing to adapt to new circumstances and change your outlook.

A Time When You Helped Someone Else in Need

Most good college essay topics ask you to show your altruism and that you can collaborate with other people. This is an opportunity to show that you will be a valuable part of the student community!

A Time When You Learned Something New

Your admission officers will definitely want to know more about your love for learning. After all, college is all about learning, so you better be ready for everything that comes with it.

A Time When You Traveled to a New Place and Learned About a New Culture

Don’t think about this subject as bragging about your traveling. Instead, talk about your open-mindedness and appreciation for the diversity of different cultures. Also, talk about how you adapted during your trip.

A Time When You Took Part in a Meaningful Activity 

This should be more than a hobby. Maybe you have participated in a charity event or helped your community in some way. Show that you can make a difference as part of the team!

A Time When You Volunteered for a Cause That You Care About

Similar to the previous topic, you can explore your compassion and dedication to creating positive change. There are many student organizations that value such a level of commitment, and this will definitely be a plus for you.


What not to include in your college essay?

There are some overused college essay topics that won’t look good for your application. It might not be the college essay topics to avoid in general but rather some things that are not original and surprising to anyone. Let’s take a look at what to omit here:

  • Cliches and overused subjects. Your application is one of thousands, so the admissions officers are very familiar with the most used subjects. 
  • Negativity. It’s always better to show positive and inspiring qualities of your character.
  • Too much focus on your accomplishments. Sure, this essay is all about you, but don’t turn your paper into just a list of accomplishments!

What makes a college essay weak?

Now, let’s see what would turn your essay into a no from admission officers. Remember that your letter needs to stand out to get you accepted into the school of your dreams. Here is what makes your paper weak:

  • Lack of focus. When your paper is going nowhere, nobody will read it until the end. 
  • Lack of clarity. You shouldn’t use complex language or sentences that make your paper difficult to read.
  • Lack of originality. Don’t go for common college essay topics or an example that has been overused.
  • Lack of passion. You won’t get into college if you are not passionate about it.

How do you create a strong college essay?

After you have narrowed down the topics to write about for college essay, you need to actually start putting your thoughts on paper. First of all, focus on a clear message. Don’t jump from one experience to another. Once you know your message, you can focus your essay on delivering it to the reader.

Also, don’t forget to proofread your paper very carefully. You should find your unique tone of voice, but letting grammar mistakes stay in your paper can end very badly for you. This just shows that you are not attentive to detail, and you don’t want that.

Key Takeaways

So, there you have it, everything you need to know about choosing topics to write about for college essay. This is not an easy task, especially when you don’t have a lot of experience putting your thoughts on paper. You can always look for inspiration for essay topics online if you feel stuck.

Also, don’t forget that your reader is a human being with their own problems and aspirations. By choosing a relatable essay subject, you can appeal to them more and earn their sympathies. So, look for some examples of admission papers online, and start writing!