Good College Essay Topics

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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 This saves lots of time and lets me avoid outdated issues.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. 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 a while.

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. 


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

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