Finding the right topic to write about can be tricky sometimes. It needs to be relevant, interesting, and appropriate for the length of an essay.
If you struggle with defining the topic for a college essay, this guide is exactly what you need.
Look Through Course Materials
The first step is to find any potential topics you can choose from later. So when you stumble upon an issue, discussion, or interesting idea, write it down into your list.
Start with the materials for this course. This includes notes from lectures, textbooks, syllabus, and essay prompts. Also, pay attention to the literature given for the course – maybe some articles will spark your interest. Recommended reading and discussion questions are good places to look for ideas.
Check Out Essay Examples
Other potential sources of interesting topics are essay examples and other academic papers. Students can check out professional paper writing services for ideas and samples of texts to see what subjects they dwell on. These platforms are dedicated to helping students with all types of college papers. So they often feature a lot of tips, tricks, and useful materials on websites.
Also, students can directly ask experienced writers for assistance. Experts offer writing, editing, and proofreading services on demand. They can assist with finding a topic, doing research, and writing a compelling paper. Or they can do it all for you. The top paper writing services offer guidance and advice when it comes to academic papers, which is an excellent way to work with professionals and learn more.
This can be a great opportunity to define the subject of your text and polish your work to excellence.
Research Latest Findings In The Field
The next step is to look into the latest findings and the most relevant discussion in the field of knowledge you are working with. You can either consult with your professor or instructor or do an internet search.
Here are some places you can start your search from:
- Academic databases (search works by the period);
- Scientific journals;
- Newspapers if you are working with Sociology, Ecology, or Humanities;
- Scientific forums;
- Conference topics and programs in the field.
Write down any ideas you get into a list to choose from them later. It is essential to work with reliable sources from credible publishing or peer-reviewed journals.
Freewrite Your Ideas
After all this preliminary research, you might have several thoughts. Sit down and freely write all of them. Do not edit anything during this process. This is brainstorming for your future writing, so there is no time for criticism.
Also, consider the matters that interest you in this field. After all, it is going to be much easier to complete an essay if you are passionate about the things you are working with. A good idea might be to set a timer for a specific period and to write without breaks for 10-15 minutes.
Revise Notes And Create A Short List
Take your list of potential topics and revise it. Narrow it down according to several factors, namely:
- Academic relevancy;
- Essay length - some might be too broad or too narrow for an essay;
- Your personal interest. Do not take something you are not interested in in the slightest;
- Potential research material. Do a quick internet search to figure out if there are enough sources for research;
- Analysis potential. In most cases, an essay requires analysis, so do not go for a topic that will only make you summarize information from other sources.
Also, identify the most important keywords in each of them for easier research later. Chances are, you end up with a couple of ideas to select from. It is useful to do a preliminary internet search on the academic background and sources.
One of the factors to pay attention to is the space for discussion. Make sure that the subject has it, so there are some different views on the matter and valid arguments about it. Do not busy yourself with something everyone agrees on.
Narrow It Down
One of the major challenges of an essay is limited volume. There are only so many ideas that students can fit into the word count. Unlike fiction writing, academic papers always have a strict structure, set volume, and precise focus.
If the issue you like is too broad, you can narrow it down, so it fits the essay format. Here is how students can do it:
- Select a specific aspect of the bigger issue;
- Focus on a specific period;
- Narrow it down to a particular location;
- Choose one special event;
- Select a specific group of people affected.
For example, instead of writing about race issues in the US in general, you can choose a specific period or state to provide a more in-depth analysis.
On the other side of the spectrum, some ideas might be too narrow. So you can also expand them in a similar fashion. Students can see whether the subject is too narrow or niche when doing research for sources. If there are only a few of them, you might need to get a bigger perspective.
Use the same factors to broaden the subject. For instance, go from one town to a state.
Turn It Into A Research Question
When you have the subject defined, it is still important to translate it into a research question to answer in your essay. To do so, you need to have a good understanding of the context and background information.
Think about what you want the readers to know. Remember that research is an active way to find answers or solutions. For example, if you are interested in the societal and economic effects of graffiti in rural areas, try to ask yourself questions about it. Why can this issue be controversial? What is the dialogue behind it? What are the potential negative effects of graffiti? What are the potential positive effects? How ethics comes into place?
After that, you will be able to formulate the research question to answer in your essay.
Choosing a suitable topic for a college essay can take some time and effort. But it is an essential step in writing about something relevant and interesting. Follow these steps to figure out the subject you are passionate about.