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Essay and paper assignments are a “fact of life” for students at all levels of study. 

There is no way to avoid such assignments, but choosing an essay topic that is academically sound and also of interest will ease the “pain” of the work to follow.

At times, you will have no options regarding the topic. 

An instructor or professor may assign the same topic to all students in a class; college admissions committees will provide the same essay prompts to all applicants.  Often, however, the student will be given some latitude within a general topic area, and it becomes your task to generate your own essay topic ideas.  English instructors, for example, may simply assign a persuasive essay, allowing students to select their own topics; a biology professor may require an essay or paper on some facet of biogenetic engineering, leaving the specific facet selection to the student.  When you have such options, you should consider the following tips for topic selection.​

  1. Brainstorm interesting essay topics that will motivate you to produce the essay or paper.  It is drudgery to research and write about something in which you have no interest.  On the other hand, your interest in a topic will “show” in the finished product.
  2. Great essay topics often come from knowledge the student already has.  If you must write a persuasive essay, for example, choose something about which you are passionate and already have a great deal of information.
  3. If you are selecting a topic within a broad area, be certain that you narrow that topic according to the requirements.  Psychological disorders common in children, for example, is not an essay or paper topic.  One disorder, such as OCD of ADD, would be a reasonable topic for a short essay/paper of 5-8 pages.  If the length requirement is greater, then more research on the specific disorder will be required.  It will be terribly difficult to develop a thesis if the chosen topic is too broad.
  4. Generating ideas for original essay topics may take some reading/research.  If you have an interest, read the writing of others.  From this reading, you may be able to find a topic that is unique and will set your essay apart from the others.
  5. College essay topics may be more complex than those of your high school years.  However, you may be able to choose essay topics on which you researched and wrote in high school and re-work it for a college essay assignment.  The research will have to be broadened, and the expectations for composition may be greater, but you are starting with a topic about which you already have substantial knowledge and understanding.

Essay and paper writing is difficult enough.  Do not make these tasks more difficult with inappropriate essay topics.  Use the aforementioned tips as you seek  essay topic ideas, and the “endgame” of writing will be less challenging.

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