120 College Essay Topics

College is a time for learning about yourself, making new friends, and of course…essay writing.

This part of academia is pretty easy to accomplish with a few hours of hard work, concentration, and creativity for those with superior writing skills. However, for those that don’t have exceptional writing skills but want to get into the college of their dreams, this task may be less than easy to accomplish or even seem impossible.

But, students shouldn’t let essay writing intimidate them because it isn’t as complicated as it appears. Writing is a skill like any other and can be mastered with time and practice.

However, as you are learning to master writing, you may need help coming up with a college essay topic that will impress your professors or admissions counselors.

That is why we’ve put together a list of 120 college essay topics that cover every type of essay you may need for higher education. Check out all of the topics, as well as a handy guide to understanding which essays you might be assigned and how they should be written.

What Essays Do You Write in College?

Unlike high school, where you may have only needed to write one or two essays, college might require you to write several different types of essays. Each of them has its own unique structure and will require different writing skills.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is one of the most common essays you will need to write in college. These essays are characterized by storytelling, rich language, and dynamic characters.

A narrative essay tells a story about what happened in your past or present to help you reach a conclusion or understanding. For example, this could be about how college has changed the way you think, or it could be about how you have overcome adversity through friends.

Narrative essays don’t require research since they are entirely based on your life experiences.

Expository Essay

The expository essay is the opposite of narrative because it doesn’t tell a story but instead explains, analyzes, or informs. For example, these essays explore ideas and information you have learned through class readings, lectures, and lab experiments.

These essays require research and factual evidence to support your thoughts and are generally assigned for courses such as:

  • History
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • English

Argumentative Essay

The argumentative essay requires you to take a controversial stance on an issue and convince the reader that your perspective is the correct one. It will require more research than the other essays on this list since your argument will be based on several sources that back up your main idea or thesis.

These essays are most often assigned in courses such as:

  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Law
  • Economics
  • Statistics

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay is much like an argumentative essay because you need to convince the reader of your particular point of view. However, rather than having an entirely fact or logic-based essay, a persuasive essay relies on convincing the reader through emotion and personal opinion.

These essays are often written for topics with no right or wrong answer, so the writer must use a calm and motivating tone to encourage the reader to agree with their perspective.

Descriptive Essay

When writing a descriptive essay in college, a student will need to use strong imagery and language to allow the reader to see, feel, taste, touch, or hear what is being described.

The writer must also try to capture the reader’s attention immediately with a bold thesis statement. The goal of this essay is not to be able to provide all of the answers but rather give readers an idea of the topic and encourage them to do more research.

These essays are usually written for history courses when students need to describe historical events in detail.

Analytical Essay

An analytical essay is a more advanced essay that requires students to read about a topic, think critically about it, and then offer their unique perspective.

This type of essay could cover the strengths and weaknesses of a current social or political movement, discuss various viewpoints on a historical event, or interpret the themes present in a piece of literature.

Application Essay

Essays written for college applications are an entirely different type of essay. These essays are written in response to a given prompt and require the student to use their creativity to come up with an original, compelling, and concise answer.

The goal of these essays is to provide insight into your personality and show admissions officers what you would bring to the college community.

120 College Essay Topics

Now that you know what types of essays to expect in college, check out this list of 120 college essay topics for each category mentioned above.

College Level Narrative Essay Topic Ideas

  1. A conflict you had with a friend.
  2. A time you stuck up for a friend.
  3. The worst thing someone has said to you.
  4. The best family vacation you went on.
  5. A person who inspires you and why.
  6. Your first memory.
  7. An embarrassing moment from your teens.
  8. The scariest moment of your life.
  9. A time you felt proud of yourself.
  10. The relationship you have with your family.
  11. A choice you made that changed your life for the better.
  12. What you learned in elementary school and how it has impacted your life today.
  13. Your most prized possession in high school.
  14. A time you had to be creative to solve a problem.
  15. Your favorite class in high school.
  16. Your biggest flaw and what you learned from it.
  17. The best vacation you ever took with friends.
  18. The last thing you bought online and how it changed your life.
  19. Your greatest hope.
  20. The most overrated movie you saw.
  21. What your first year of college taught you about yourself.
  22. How technology has changed your life since high school.

College Level Expository Essay Topic Ideas

  1. The importance of friendship.
  2. How to not procrastinate.
  3. The benefits of playing a sport in high school.
  4. A time you attempted something new and failed.
  5. What you do every day that adds value to your life.
  6. Your favorite book or movie quote and why it affects you.
  7. How your parents made sacrifices to help you succeed.
  8. Your experience at summer camp.
  9. The benefits of learning a musical instrument in high school.
  10. What makes you unique, and why it should matter to other people.
  11. An important lesson you learned from your family.
  12. A time someone was unkind to you and how you reacted.
  13. A time you found something valuable.
  14. Your relationship with social media and how it has changed your life.
  15. What you learned from a book and how it affected the way you think.
  16. The impact of current events on society today.
  17. What you enjoy doing in your free time and why others should try it too.
  18. How to get the most out of your college experience.
  19. How to take better care of yourself.
  20. The importance of reading and how it has changed your life.
  21. Your favorite holiday and why.
  22. A time you had an argument with a friend and what you learned from it.
  23. The benefits of staying organized.
  24. Your favorite childhood memory and how the experience has impacted the person you are today.
  25. A time everyone should recycle more to help out the environment.
  26. A difficult decision that had to be made and how it impacted you.
  27. What would America look like if we all started to embrace diversity?
  28. How your first year of college taught you how to be independent.
  29. A time someone showed you kindness and what that meant to you.

College Level Argumentative Essay Topic Ideas

  1. Cell phones should be allowed in schools.
  2. Why athletes deserve to earn a lot of money.
  3. How people can benefit from trying new things more often.
  4. Is the death penalty a deterrent to crime?
  5. Should high school students be allowed to have cell phones during the day?
  6. Is there too much violence on television these days?
  7. Sexting should be legal among teenagers.
  8. Public transportation is more beneficial than driving cars.
  9. Restricting abortion rights is dangerous to women’s health.
  10. Video games lead to increased violence among teens.
  11. School uniforms are unnecessary.
  12. Parents should have the right to choose whether or not their children receive vaccinations.
  13. Universities should require students to take a class about diversity.
  14. Euthanasia can be an acceptable practice for people who are terminally ill.
  15. Customer service staff should be paid a higher minimum wage.
  16. Military intervention in other countries leads to more terrorism.
  17. Men and women should be paid equally for doing the same job.
  18. The media has a polarizing effect on political debate in America today.
  19. Unemployment benefits should not exist.
  20. Governments should place children’s rights above the interests of their parents.
  21. Eating meat contributes to larger carbon footprints in America.
  22. The Internet has a corrosive effect on society today.
  23. States have the right to secede.

College Level Persuasive Essay Topic Ideas

  1. How to get more young people involved in politics.
  2. The value of technology in the classroom for students with special needs.
  3. Teachers should be paid more money to work at low-income schools.
  4. Ways that teachers can motivate their students.
  5. Why colleges need to prepare graduates better before they enter the workforce.
  6. Books should not be banned.
  7. Censorship leads to a culture of fear and stifles creativity.
  8. Government officials should only be allowed to serve a limited number of terms in office.
  9. Is parental involvement at school necessary?
  10. Why taking time off from school is vital for a student’s mental health.
  11. Widespread legalization of drugs would make society better.
  12. The government is becoming too powerful.
  13. The importance of developing creative problem-solving skills in students today.
  14. Why people should be more empathetic towards the poor.
  15. How social media can affect someone’s self-esteem negatively.
  16. Children should not be given medication for behavioral issues.

College Level Descriptive Essay Topic Ideas

  1. The best vacation I have been on and why.
  2. The tree that grows in my front yard.
  3. A music event I attended.
  4. The first time I saw snow.
  5. The house where I grew up.
  6. What happened at the party I went to last weekend.
  7. My favorite season.
  8. An object that represents my personality well.
  9. A time where I felt truly loved by someone.
  10. The first time I was aware of my mortality.
  11. A community service project I participated in.
  12. What a day on the beach is like where I live.

College Level Analytical Essay Topic Ideas

  1. How America’s immigration policies are affecting the economy.
  2. How technology has allowed human communication to be more efficient.
  3. Is there too much power in the hands of one company? Why or why not?
  4. The purpose of the government is to provide public services and nothing else.
  5. Has media bias become worse over time?
  6. The value of a college education.
  7. What makes a good leader?
  8. How creativity can help solve the world’s problems.
  9. Why do members of Congress refuse to work together on important issues?
  10. Is it essential for colleges to have sports teams?

College Application Essay Topic Ideas

  1. What made me want to become a teacher.
  2. The people who have influenced my identity the most.
  3. A time when I faced failure and how I dealt with it.
  4. My biggest regret and how I’ve overcome it.
  5. How my family shaped who I am today.
  6. The one thing I can’t live without.
  7. Why going to college is important to me.
  8. What are my career goals, and why?

Don’t Let Another College Essay Be Difficult to Write!

With these helpful topic ideas, you’ll be able to tackle any college-level essay writing assignment quickly and easily. Be sure that you understand which type of essay you need to write to ensure that you meet the writing requirements set by your professor.

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