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Brainstorming topics for your college essays
Deciding on and narrowing down a topic for your college essay doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. There are actually many ways to brainstorm about possibilities. Sometimes your college instructor doesn’t give you any direction in this area at all; other times your teacher may give you guidelines for your topic selection. So where’s a good place to start? You could think of some important people, places, events or accomplishments that you have experienced in your life. Write all these ideas down as they pop into your head. Family and friends can help you generate a big list. They might think of things that you’ve glossed over either because you’ve forgotten them or don’t see their value at first.
Is there something that makes you unique or allows you to stand out from the crowd? What got you interested in doing this activity? Has there been an event in your life about which you could write passionately? In particular, has there been a failure that you have learned something from, or that you could explore some options about? This could make a very compelling topic for a college essay.
Unique ways to brainstorm for topic ideas:
- Go to a library and randomly pick up a magazine or newspaper. What catches your eye? Is there something you could build some interest around, or an event that sparks questions in your mind?
- What sport do you like to participate in or watch? What has changed or developed in the last 50 to 100 years that’s significant? How about the history of the sport? Any interesting characters you could investigate?
- Go for a long walk. Look around at things, buildings and people. If you had to come up with 10 different general topic ideas from the things you see, what would they be? Once you have a general idea for a topic, how would you narrow it down?
Remember your topic should be a small detail of a large thing. You can’t hope to cover a huge, broad topic in one essay, but you could certainly elaborate on one detail of it.
It’s quite normal to experience writer’s block at the beginning. You just don’t know where to begin. Take some time to narrow down your topic so that covering every aspect of it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Then, just start writing. Don’t worry about the order of your thoughts right now. You can organize them later. Just let the words flow freely.