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How Can I Brainstorm Essay Topics?

Information adapted from Fiske Real College Essays That Work.

Got writer's block? It's okay. It can be difficult trying to decide what to write for "topic of your choice" essay questions.

If you’ve got enough time before the essay(s) need to be completed, Edward Fiske recommends jotting down anything that interests you or seems out of the ordinary. Eventually you’ll find something that interests you and that will be interesting to an admissions officer.

If you have absolutely no idea where to start, don't worry. Check out Fiske's five brainstorming topics that can help you get unblocked.

An Article of Clothing

Many people have an item such as a favorite sweater, a beloved T-shirt, or a well-worn pair of shoes. It is often possible to spin stories around an item that has been with you through many experiences, or that can be made to represent truths in your life.

The Groups in Your School and Where You Fit in

Every school has groups of people who associate together based on common interests or traits—jocks, musicians, Goths, skaters, cheerleaders, "smart" kids, and everything in between. Not that you want to reduce anyone to a stereotype, but some perceptive comments about social life at your school can be very effective. Have you tried to bridge the groups? Ever gotten caught in a test of loyalty between them?

A Family Gathering or Tradition

You could pick anything from your family at the dinner table to an annual trip to the beach. You may decide to write about an extended family gathering, and thereby give yourself more characters and interactions to describe.

Your Walk or Ride to School

Any trip that you take on familiar ground, day after day, is a good possibility. A walk through your neighborhood would allow you to reflect on experiences that you have had at each place you pass.

If you are a runner, you could describe a course that you have run many times, and your thoughts along the way.

If you've lived in your house a long time, a look around the backyard could bring to mind good times with family or friends that might come together in an essay.

Your Favorite Things

Similar to an article of clothing topic, you can write about some of your favorite things and why they’re meaningful to you.