by Natalie Stewart
If your instructor wants you to choose your own topic for an essay, it is intended to encourage you to think creatively. If you don’t know what to write on, begin by choosing something that interests you in your personal life!
Once you have selected a topic, you will need to relate it to the concepts you have learned in class. For example, if you are in a sociology class, and you choose “comic strips” as your topic, you could analyze Calvin & Hobbes using sociological terms from your textbook.
When writing an academic essay, you will often be required to cite scholarly research to support your ideas. One way to do this is to ask a question about your topic that you don’t know the answer to. As you read research articles, you will form a thesis (the controlling idea) of your paper around the answer to that question.
By choosing a topic that relates to a personal interest, you will have greater enjoyment in researching and writing your essay. More importantly, if you discover a relationship between your essay topic and the concepts taught in class, it can help make the concepts more clear.