How To Choose A Personal Essay Topic

The title of this blog post is a little bit misleading. A lot of the times, depending on the specific question of your admissions essay package, you are not given a choice as to the general topic of the essay. A lot of the times, the admissions package centers your attention to a particular body of inquiry, circumstance, or situation. Again, this is not saying that they dictate a specific topic, right? This is all about limiting your essay to a smaller subset of experiences because let’s face it, if anybody could write an essay that is very broad, wide-ranging, and has no boundaries or limits, the only limit, really, is one’s imagination. That’s how powerful an essay is. You can argue about anything. You can try to convince people of anything. Admissions committee members don’t have that much time to screw around with far flung, wide ranging, fluffy, and airy essays. They try to narrow it down a little bit. That’s why, when you’re choosing a personal essay topic, the first step is to operate firmly within the boundaries set forth by the essay portion of your admissions package. Is it asking a specific question? Stay within the question. That’s rule number one in choosing a personal essay topic.

Second, list out all the topics that can possibly come to mind and fall within the question asked in the admissions essay package. List it all out. Be like James Joyce and use stream of consciousness. In the next 30 minutes, write or type out all the things that come to mind when a certain word or a certain combination of words are mentioned. Just let it out. Then filter them in terms of whether they fit into the profile that you think the school is looking for. Remember, schools hate to admit it, but they are looking for an “ideal candidate”. Luckily, this “ideal candidate” is not all about grades and past academic achievements. This ideal candidate has a certain mind-set when it comes to helping people, helping to create a better world, fulfilling the mission statement of the school, so on and so forth. Come up with a rough approximation of the constellation of values that revolve around this “ideal candidate” that you think is hinted at by the admissions package from the school that you are applying to. Filter your topics using that ideal candidate.

Third, filter the remaining topics based on the availability of personal facts that you have to support those topics. This should do the trick. Remember, don’t make up facts. Don’t write fairytales. You will be found out. Academic fraud is a serious issue. Not only may you get kicked out of school, but it can haunt your career further down the road. Use these techniques to choose an effective personal essay topic.

This blog post was written by Chris Walker for  If you are looking for affordable guest blog posts, contact Chris – he writes 1000 words for $5. Email him at