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Five Tips for Generating the Perfect Essay Topic
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4. Talk with your instructor. Whether you want a little clarification or simply can’t come up with a topic on your own, the instructor is your greatest resource. Check your syllabus. Visit during their office hours. Speak after class. Email. Get your instructor on your side and voice your concerns. Most instructors will be sympathetic and understanding of any problem you bring and are more than willing to help. Even if you’re confident about your topic, it never hurts to stop in and show them a draft or just run the idea by the professor. It’s an insurance policy that guarantees you’re penning an essay they’ll enjoy reading, and it eases any concerns you may have.

5. Have an idea selected before you start writing. Along with, “pick a topic which interests you,” this is an unquestioned rule of successful essay writing. If you’re waiting to start thinking about your essay until the night before the deadline, you’re setting yourself up for failure. What if you can’t come up with an idea? What if you can’t find any sources? What if you’re unsure if your topic fits the parameters of the assignment? Before you ever put finger to keyboard or pen to paper, stop and think a little about what you’re writing. Are there counterpoints to be made? In how many ways can you tie this into the course? How much of your opinion would be appropriate or is required for the essay to succeed? You need a plan before sitting down to write an essay of academic rigor.

Don’t sit around waiting for the gods of Economics 101 or Engineering 799 to grace you with the perfect essay hours before the deadline. Take some time and prepare, follow the steps above, and, most importantly, write about something you care about. As long as you’re doing that—and following the guidelines of the assignment—everything should fall into place. Writing is a rare opportunity for you to contribute to the conversation of your education. Be proud and make your voice heard.

Matt has a BA in English and a BS in Marketing. He is a freelance writer and has been published in the literary journals of Iowa State University and the University of Idaho.

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