Personal essays are some of the most diverse assignments you can receive. Whether you’re a student in middle school or university, the best personal essay will highlight an individual’s personal views and unique experience. They’re not confined by the restrictions of literary essays and give plenty of opportunity for introducing the writer’s personality. The key here is selecting the right topics to talk about in a personal essay. Usually, this is the toughest part. After all, it’s the emotional core of your text. A lot of people also struggle to write about themselves and their experience as subjects of the text. Where does one start? Essay topics in general are frustrating to formulate so if you need help with some inspiration, take a look at some more ideas here! And if you’re wondering what some good personal essay topics are, you’ll find a lot of sample ideas here as well as a guide on how to write a persuasive text.
In this article:
- How to Write Personal Essays
- Why Choose Personal Persuasive Topics for Your Essay
How to Write Personal Essays
Start by taking a trip down memory lane. The most gripping stories come from personal experience, especially if you’re thinking of writing a personal narrative essay. Think about a memory from your past that includes some inciting incident. If this is the first time you come across this phrase, inciting incidents are typically the metaphorical “hooks” of the story that have the audience interested in your text.
You could talk about your experience working as a volunteer, for example, or if you aren’t the volunteering type, you can write about some exciting memories from your childhood and summer vacations. Have you taken a trip abroad that has really left an impression on you? Are you drawn to different cultures because of that exotic trip? Maybe you went to visit a museum of your favourite artist, and this has inspired you to become an artist yourself. Perhaps you were immersed by the sound of a different language and decided to have a go at it. What have you enjoyed the most in the process? What did you hate about it? Perhaps you tried acquiring a new skill, but it went completely the wrong way for you. The list goes on and on.
There’s something there. Just remember the golden rule: always be honest in your personal essays. Trying to change your viewpoint on a subject so that it fits the masses’ opinion won’t make your personal essay enticing. The topic you’ll talk about in your personal essay is extremely important and so is the first sentence. Writing phrases such as “ever since I was a baby, I wanted to become a doctor” isn’t convincing or truthful. Try not to stick to clichés. You want to make an impression with your text, so ask yourself: What would grab your attention if you were reading your persuasive essay? I always think of Charles Dickens’ first sentence from A Christmas Carol: “Marley was dead: to begin with.” It begs for explanation and resolve, and it’s short and simple. The same should go for the personal essay entry sentence.
Why Choose Personal Persuasive Topics for Your Essay
If you’re wondering why you should choose personal persuasive topics for your essay, the answer lies in the question. We are a narrative-oriented society, and much of our relatability comes from convincingly expressing to others our individual, personal experience. What better way to let your personality shine than through conveying your emotions and adventures in a gripping story?
Personal experience essay topics vary depending on your age, and it’s quite likely that a story that worked for a high school assignment won’t have the same effect in your university days. That’s why in the sections below, we have divided the best personal essay topics into different categories. That way, you can easily navigate across all topics (and there’s quite a lot of them – a total of 242 ), but don’t let that restrict you. If you’re confident, you can always choose a topic from any of the categories.
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Of course, there are other important takeaways from writing a great personal essay. Usually, your teacher or admissions officer will look out that you have successfully done the following:
- Communicated and implemented your critical thinking skills
- Spoken convincingly and from experience about challenging themes that make you stand out from the crowd
- Demonstrated your creativity and unique voice all the while applying persuasive techniques in your writing
With all this in mind, you can now start by selecting the right type of personal essay topic from our categories. We have included everything from personal essay topics for middle school to personal essay topics for high school, as well as narrative essay topics and many more. Go on, what are you waiting for?
Personal Narrative Essay Topics
Personal narrative essays are a great way to tell your unique take on a personal story. You just have to choose a project you feel passionate about. Typically, choosing a story involving your success and personality growth is your best bet, but of course, always make sure to check that your topic is suitable for the task given by your tutors. If you’re wondering what topics are suitable for a great personal narrative essay, check out the following ideas:
- Starting your first job
- Volunteering for the first time
- A memorable teacher that made an impact on you
- A dangerous experience
- Your first journey abroad/to the countryside
- An experience that changed your behavior
- An experience that made you gain/lose religious faith
- A comedic situation based on some misunderstanding
- Events from your summer vacation that changed your life
- The first time you got a pet
- The experience of meeting your little sibling for the first time
- A time when you decided what your future job will be
- The change of a relationship with some you didn’t expect you’d like
- The first time you experienced a dangerous event of some kind
- The first time you won something
- Your experience participating in a sport/political/environmental design
- A story about a teacher who inspired you
- A story about a family member who is dear to you
- Your experience of being in charge of something for the first time
- Your experience traveling on your own for the first time
- How a book you read changed your life
- How the most exciting subject in school changed your life
- How technology changed the way you access information
- The first time you experienced an earthquake or tornado
- A story about someone who has become your patron/idol
- Your reaction/opinion on an event that influenced your country
- A moment you caught someone in a lie
- An episode that changed your relationship with your parents
- An event which showed you taking responsibility and leadership
- An event in which you face discrimination
- An experience of successfully fighting procrastination
- A time when you helped people in a crisis
- The experience of creating secret places in your childhood
- An experience playing your favorite game
- A time you got lost
- Your first time going on a trip by yourself
- The influence of technology on your younger siblings vs you
- What you would do if you won the lottery for the first time
- Your best childhood memory
- Your experience of discovering a disability for the first time
- A secret talent you have
- Your experience learning a musical instrument
- Your experience with an inexplicable event that happened to you
- A story about the greatest fear you have
- How your favorite work of art inspires you
- The best advice you have heard in your life
- A place you would go to if you could travel in time
- A story about the most beautiful place you have visited
- Something you witnessed in your lifetime that you will never forget
- Your favorite holiday experience
- Your most awkward moment in college
- Your biggest fear
- The most crucial lesson in your life
- Your experience of being betrayed by someone and your response to it
- An advice your parents gave you that wasn’t useful
- Describe your biggest moment of failure
- Your biggest argument with a family member
- A difficult decision you have made
- The day you realized you had made a best friend
- The most interesting dream you have had
Personal Experience Essay Topics
Personal experience essays aren’t that much different from personal narrative essays. They still have an element of narrative storytelling within them, but this time, they focus more on a level of experience you have gained because of a certain event. Usually, personal experience essay topics are focused around the theme of personal development. Many things can be described and included in a personal narrative essay, and you not only are given the opportunity to demonstrate your personal views on a subject, but you can also have your level of determination and ambition evaluated by a professional teacher or college admissions officer. Usually, personal narrative essay papers are written when submitting a college application, but it’s also possible to receive such an essay in school. In my personal experience, some of the greatest essays presenting an intellectual challenge are in fact the personal experience essays.
Let’s get straight into some essay prompts:
- How do you handle stress when attending an important exam?
- Which school subject motivated you to study hard?
- Did a teacher have a significant influence on your confidence in selecting a career?
- Is homework a waste of time?
- How would you go about doing research for an essay?
- What motivates you to study and pursue your dreams?
- Everyone has a plan “A” when it comes to choosing a career. What is your plan “B”?
- How has your biggest failure shaped your personality today?
- What is your biggest accomplishment outside of college/school, and how did you come to achieve it?
- What is the difference between female and male roles in your family? In what way would you change them?
- How did a book/film change your worldview?
- What role have teams and clubs had in your life?
- What role has television had in your life?
- What is your relationship with social media?
- How have moments of racial or religious discrimination affected you?
Personal Argumentative Essay Topics
Personal argumentative essay topics are generally given to college students or sometimes to people applying for a degree in Humanitarian Sciences. Such essays are a great way for admission officers to evaluate your knowledge of current events and relevant social discussions. Personal argumentative essay topics are usually considered more difficult than narrative essays, for example. For more argumentative ideas and speech topics, check the guide! Thus, if you’re planning on taking up this challenge, make sure you have enough time to prepare. If you have a whole term to prepare for this personal argumentative essay topic, you’ll surely be able to tackle it. Also, if that sounds too engaging, don’t worry, there are plenty of other, easier essay ideas on our lists!
Check out our example personal argumentative essay prompts for argumentative essay topics:
- Should prisons be abolished? If so, what is the negative and positive impact of this global decision?
- How does higher education affect the merit in meritocracy?
- Should artificial intelligence be applied actively in warfare?
- Does revolution go hand in hand with violence?
- Has the COVID-19 pandemic made us more prepared for the prevention of future epidemics occurring worldwide?
- In what way has the instant gratification of social media changed our relationship to technology?
- How has the digital age changed children’s relationship to empathy?
- What would the impact of a potential legalization of productivity drugs look like in current society?
- Is there a difference in work performance between Ivy League alumni and lower-ranking university students?
- Is obesity preventable?
- Is gun control a necessary method for the prevention of shootings?
- Should everyone have the right to vote?
- Should the right to vote be exclusively available to people with some form of education?
- Does the #metoo movement yield meaningful social change?
- Is knife control a necessary and sufficient method of knife crime prevention?
- How can the value of digital collectible art be accurately determined?
- Is fan fiction writing real writing?
- Do all students need to learn a foreign language?
- Should students take a gap year between high school and university?
- Why should universities teach financial literacy?
- Should students participate in the maintenance of school property?
Personal Cause-and-Effect Essay Topics
Personal cause-and-effect essay topics are pretty self-explanatory. You’re aiming to express your opinion on a subject that has a cause, for example, supposedly, school uniforms are meant to cause discipline among students. Exercising and backing up your opinion on this essay idea will make it personal. Here is a detailed guide on how to write a great cause and effect essay. Think of a topic that excites you. It could be something you’re unhappy with or something you think is unjust.
Here are personal cause-and-effect essay topics we came up with:
- How can video games boost people’s IQ?
- Can a personal relationship in a family improve with phone use?
- Can going to college make for happier marriages?
- How can the involvement of a parent change a child’s education?
- How have smartphones impacted general communication?
- What is the effect of cookies, and does it make people shop more?
- What is the effect of tablets on young children?
- What is the effect of mobile usage during class?
- Why can’t another popular engine be established in place of Google?
- What is the effect of the financial success Disney has had in the last 30 years?
- Should dating in school be banned?
- Can living together before marriage make a relationship between partners stronger?
- Can a couple sleeping in separate beds have a healthy relationship?
- What is the effect of bullying on mental health?
- What is the cause of bullying behavior?
- Why shouldn’t women have to work after an abortion or miscarriage?
- What is the impact of smoking on a pregnant mother ?
- How can the presence of acne affect the life of a teenager? What about an adult?
- Why do some people avoid vaccines?
- What causes a lack of interest in sports?
- How can teenagers better protect themselves against cyberbullies?
- What causes certain social media apps to lose popularity?
- Can continuous sporting activities cause character development?
- Is “cancel culture” sparking meaningful change?
- What is the root cause of racism?
- Why is it essential to manage forest fires?
- What are the harmful effects of antill hunting on the ecosystem?
- Why is it important for everyone to conserve water?
- What is the environmental impact of a single-use plastic ban?
- Can a long-distance relationship work?
- What are the causes and effects of cheating during exams?
- Is it a necessity to have an obligatory Sex Ed class ?
- How has the Internet changed the public’s sexual education?
- Should there be student bars on campus?
- Should work become mandatory for anyone over the age of 18?
- What causes some sports to be more popular among students than others?
- What are the effects of using computers and tablets in school? What about university?
- Have libraries become more popular over the last few years?
- What caused the General Data Protection Regulation, and why is it necessary?
- What are the effects of online dating apps such as Tinder or Grindr?
- What are the effects of drugs and alcohol on people?
- Should people be allowed to drive after drinking a single unit of alcohol?
- What are the effects of a family structure on an individual?
- Does having a sibling make a person more responsible?
- Are siblings better at sharing?
- How has the golden child syndrome affected millennials?
- How can teachers positively and negatively affect student lives?
- What are the root causes of commitment phobia in men and women?
- What is the effect of social media on romantic relationships?
- How does eating fast food affect the energy levels of an individual?
Personal Persuasive Essay Topics
Unlike personal cause-and-effect essay topics, personal persuasive essay topics aim to convince the reader that your opinion is right. This type of academic writing assignment explains a particular problem and uses research combined with personal experience in order to end up with a powerful persuasive conclusion. Through logic and convincing evidence, as well as always keeping in mind the goal of persuasion, you can write a powerful assignment.
Here are some personal persuasive essay ideas to choose from for your next writing assignment:
- Is chess considered a sport or a game?
- How is modern music not as well-composed as music from the past, such as the 1970s?
- Is it important to put PG labels on music tracks or films?
- Elaborate on the importance of the right education when playing professional music.
- Is animal hunting an immoral hobby?
- Is it a good idea to keep pets indoors?
- The cruelty behind testing beauty products on animals
- Is it ethical to breed animals for sale?
- Schools have to reduce the amount of homework assigned to students.
- SATs and ACTs are not effective ways of examining the knowledge of students.
- There should be an Emotional Intelligence mandatory class for all years.
- Vaccines can lead to autism.
- Astrology isn’t an effective way of predicting future events.
- All transport vehicles should be automatic or electric.
- Can distant online learning replace traditional classes?
- Working from home is better for finance but worse for mental health.
- The current taxation system is unfair.
- Listening to music when writing homework is an effective way of sparking productivity
- Hustle culture has taxing effects on mental health.
- People volunteer for their personal benefit, instead of kindness
- People who have survived a near-death experience have a newfound appreciation for life.
- Is “fake it until you make it” a healthy way of progressing?
- Why do people lie on their resumes?
- Why book reading during summer vacations should become mandatory.
- Weekends should change from 2 days to 3 days.
- Why we should be making selective school sports mandatory in school.
- Cooking and body health classes should be mandatory subjects in school.
- Can e-books and Kindles replace physical books?
- Should the death penalty exist?
- Why should children have chores?
- Why should it be made mandatory for children to contribute to the overall maintenance, cleanliness, and gardening of schools?
Personal Essay Topics for Middle School
When choosing a personal essay topic, it’s important to take on subjects and ideas related to your age. Some topics require a lot more research, while others can be a little too sensitive for a younger writer. Selecting the right one for you will leave you with less workload and can guarantee you a better grade. Of course, if you feel confident and knowledgeable enough, you can try your skills with a more difficult essay idea. Paper writing can be a difficult intellectual challenge, but we’re sure that with these essay ideas, you’ll be able to tell your personal story and write a great essay:
- How did you make a best friend?
- A special top-secret place you have.
- A story of a time a friend let you down.
- A time when you disappointed someone.
- What is your happiest memory?
- Your first time receiving a pet.
- Your bravest moment.
- A time you felt embarrassed.
- What would you do if you were omnipotent?
- What would you do if you could switch lives with someone? Who would it be?
- How did a book change your life?
- What would you do if your pet could talk?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- If you could shapeshift into an animal, what would you be? What would you do?
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Would you change anything?
- What’s your secret talent?
- The first time you fell in love.
- An accident that changed your life.
- Talk about the ugliest thing you have seen.
- Talk about the most influential family member.
- Talk about your favorite gift.
- Talk about something you can’t resist.
- Talk about a guest you had in your house that you’ll never forget.
- Talk about the hardest news you’ve had to deliver.
- Talk about a special gift you have received.
- Talk about something that if your mum knew, you’d be in a lot of trouble. A lot.
- If you could volunteer anywhere, where would it be?
- If you won a million dollars, how would you spend them?
- What is an unexplained event that stuck with you?
- The one thing you can’t resist.
- If you could be a superhero, what power would you have? Why?
- If you could teleport anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Personal Essay Topics for High School Students and College Students
This list of personal essay topics for high school students will definitely inspire you to practice your personal essay skills. Covering topics like communication, ethical consumption, personal experience and more, you’ll be able to gain new ideas and express your deepest thoughts within the confines of the page. These personal essay topics for high school students are also a great way of reflecting on your growth and personal opinion, while expressing your thoughts and opinions.
- What inspires you?
- What inanimate object best embodies you?
- What’s one thing your parents don’t understand about you?
- What is the one quality a good person must have?
- Describe the best decision you ever made
- What is one thing you would change that you know will make a great difference in your life?
- How do you respond to criticism? Talk about a time you were critiqued.
- Do you feel the impact of peer pressure in your life? How is it manifested?
- Are you religious, an atheist, or agnostic? Why and why not?
- Do you feel comfortable in your body? Do you feel pressure from the media about how you “should” look?
- What are your views on ethical consumption? Does it matter to you?
- What are your views on veganism?
- Do you feel like your friends are honest with each other? Why and why not?
- When you look back on your time in high school, what part will you remember with fondness?
- If you could tell your 12-year-old self something, what would it be and why?
- Do you have a dream profession? What is it?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
- Do you believe in “soulmates”? Why and why not?
- What is your dream goal? Do you feel like you’ll ever achieve it?
- Do you believe in the concept of “best friends”? Why and why not?
- Do you believe in astrology? Why and why not?
- What do you think the world will look like in 100 years?
- If you could bring to life any famous historical figure and spend the day with them, who would you pick, and what would you do?
- If you could go back in time, would you kill Hitler?
- What TV series you saw recently made an impression on you? Why?
- What part of high school do you wish you could get rid of?
- If you could start your own business, what would you do?
- What issues truly motivate you and why?
- If you were an admissions officer, what positive qualities would you look for in students?
- What period of school do you think is most important?
- What is your dream profession? What are it’s positives and negatives?
- Do you think the world can function without money? What would that alternative universe look like?
- Do you think all students should go to college? Why?
Writing essays is a great way to showcase your writing skills, as well as clearly communicate your views and ideas. Personal essay writing improves your debating, logical, and deductive skills, so it’s important that you select a topic you’re passionate about and inspired by. This will give you enough fuel to power through the most difficult essay topics while at the same time enjoy what you’re writing about. We hope you enjoyed our personal persuasive essay topics! Make sure to bookmark and come back to this personal essay ideas list in the future when you’re given an assignment! Here are some more college essay topics, check them out!