Looking Back on Essay Topics

As my students and I begin to say good-bye, we are often laughing over their frustration with application essays. It is rewarding, in hindsight, to see that they find some humor in their earlier struggles.

As a general rule, I encourage students to focus on “a slice of life,” and from that starting point share an understanding of who they are. 

Here are twenty five essay topics, each a thin slice of their lives, that my students have written about.

  1. How I feel when I watch American students not work hard in school

  2. What fairy tales mean to me

  3. Why I work so hard in my game development cooperative

  4. Why I changed high schools

  5. Why I love my Catholic high school even though I am not Catholic

  6. How watching a Lucille Ball telethon helped me think about a career in business

  7. My anxieties riding a bus through a high crime neighborhood

  8. Why I like science museums

  9. What my brother’s fatal illness means to me

  10. What I learned talking with my grandmother about my grandfather’s military service

  11. Why I feel frustrated by a weak Indonesian stock market

  12. My summer helping my grandfather in a nursing home

  13. Why tables are important to me

  14. Why sidewalks are important to me

  15. What driving into San Diego at dawn means to me

  16. What being bi-racial means to me

  17. How walkathons helped me grow

  18. How I learned teamwork making posters for a school play

  19. How I better understood my Korean culture when I studied French

  20. How working on a student-teacher committee helped me mature

  21. Why I like to play war games

  22. The impact of not having a driver’s license in high school

  23. Why I like German food

  24. What I learned playing chess with the renter living in our basement

  25. What Title 1 has meant to my family