Good College Essay Topics

by Will Martins/ Updated October 16, 2019

Good College Essay Topics

Every essay tutorial you read online starts with choosing a topic. Research, outlines, drafts, and editing come much later after you’ve found an exciting subject to write about. The trouble is, good college essay topics don’t grow on trees, and it can take you weeks to find “the one”. If you are anything like me, you agonize over the essay subject forever, and that leaves you with one or two nights to do the rest of the work.

They say admitting there’s problem is halfway to solving it. But let’s not settle for that! Today I’ll share my way of finding dozens of interesting essay topics in 30 minutes or less. I’ll even throw in some examples that should get you going. 

Where Do I Find College Essay Ideas?

I don’t go reinventing the wheel. Instead, I use topics already under research. This saves lots of time and lets me avoid outdated issues.

First, you’ll need to choose a website to swipe your essay ideas from. I am partial to ResearchGate, and I’ll explain why in a minute. It’s free, and you only need your school email to sign up. Academia.edu is another option, along with Google Scholar. I also enjoyed my DeepDyve 14-day trial period, though I don’t have the money to renew the subscription.

essay ideas

After I log into my ResearchGate account, I type in the name of the class or a broad topic into the search bar. If my search query is narrow enough, I can use the Publications tab, but if it’s something like “History”, the results will mostly be useless. I don’t have the time to go through every item individually, and the names don’t tell me much.

places to find essay topics

Instead, I use the Questions tab. That’s where gold is. Some questions are good enough to use as college essay topics without any alterations necessary. For instance, my “History” search returned a couple of exciting possibilities, such as

  • Should LGBT history be taught in schools?
  • Are we any healthier now than before the discoveries and inventions of modern medicine?
  • Why is history hijacked by emotional blackmailers?

essay topics

If I’m lucky enough, the questions come with a few answers that provide background info and opinions by scientists and fellow students. Some even offer useful references, making the research step that much easier. You can post your own questions to gather feedback and research materials. Researchers will do the work for you, though you might have to wait awhile.

Another Way to Find College Essay Topics

If you don’t want to deal with ResearchGate Questions, I invite you to DeepDyve. Without even setting up an account, you can use the search bar to look for good essay topics. Here’s how I do it.

alternative ways to find topics

I type in a broad topic, such as “financial crisis” and filter the results to display free articles only. The list of article topics is usually enough to find the right one for my assignment in five minutes or less.

essay topics to write about

If I don’t get enough info from the article title, I use the Quick View option to browse the abstract and make sure I can use the research. The article I use becomes one of the first references for my essay. The coolest thing is that you can cite the article directly from DeepDyve in MLA or APA, as well as export citation data to EndNote. 

topics

Finally, I use Recommended and References tabs to get instant recommendations for further research. Overall, it takes me no more than an hour to find the topic I want to discuss and collect enough resources for solid research.

Interesting Essay Topics

Now that you know how I come up with college essay ideas, I’d like to provide a list of exciting topics you can use. But I can’t. I have no idea what classes you take and which subjects would be interesting for you. Instead, I’ll provide a few examples that caught my eye. 

  • Is psychology a pseudoscience?
  • The environmental impact of online advertisement
  • Privacy-oriented software development
  • Does financial market growth improve income distribution? 
  • Marketing and the bottom line: the new metrics of corporate wealth
  • Interventions in occupational health psychology
  • Innovation policies in the financial crisis
  • Health and environmental impact of nanotechnology
  • The nurse in the context of chronic disease
  • Prospective of the application of ultrasounds in archaeology
  • Genome editing is revolutionizing biology
  • Rational nature management of urban flora
  • Pre-travel medical preparation of business and occupational travelers

College Essay Topics To Avoid

Not all essay topics are the same. Some will make your professors mad and sink your chances of getting a good grade. I can’t tell for sure which subjects are likely to get you on the professor’s shit list, but I collect college essay topics to avoid, and I suggest you skim my suggestions before making the final choice.

I’d skip essays on

  • Marijuana legalization, prostitution, gun control, abortion, and other controversial social and political issues. Students have been working on them for decades, and you’re unlikely to provide a fresh perspective. Just imagine reading a hundredth essay on the same issue, and you’ll understand why professors might hate these topics.
  • Obscure issues that haven’t been researched enough. If your search returns ten references or fewer, you might have a hard time gathering enough evidence for your piece. Unsupported arguments won’t win professors over.
  • Topics you are too passionate about. If you can’t keep your cool about online gaming or Leonardo da Vinci, your essay will read more like a fan’s confession than a college essay. Instead, pick topics that are interesting, but don’t rile you up as much.

I hope you give my method a try. It has worked for me, and I know it can work for you too! Let me know if you need more help with finding the right topics for your essays. I’ve got more tricks up my sleeve.