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Student Opinion

Over 1,000 Writing Prompts for Students

writing prompts college

Compiled by Michael Gonchar

  • April 12, 2018

Note: We have 300 new argumentative writing prompts to add to this list.

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Of all the resources we publish on The Learning Network, perhaps it’s our vast collection of writing prompts that is our most widely used resource for teaching and learning with The Times.

We’ve published iterations of this post in the past — 200 , 401 and even 650 prompts — but never before have we gathered all our prompts, for both personal and argument writing, into one categorized list.

Admittedly, the list is huge. In fact, there are 1,219 questions below on everything from video games and fashion to smartphones and parenting, and each prompt links to a Times article as well as to additional subquestions that can encourage deeper thinking.

To help you navigate this page, here’s an index of topics:

Technology (1-74): Social Media • Smartphones • Internet & Tech Arts & Entertainment (75-248): Music • Television • Video Games • Movies & Theater • Books & Reading • Writing • The Arts • Language & Speech School & Career (249-449): School • Learning & Studying • Education Tech • Teachers & Grading • School Rules & Student Life • College • Work & Careers Identity & Family (450-828): Parenting • Family • Childhood Memories • Growing Up • Overcoming Adversity • Your Personality • Religion & Morality • Role Models • Gender • Race & Ethnicity • Neighborhood & Home • Money & Social Class • What If... Social Life & Leisure Time (829-1,059): Friendship • Dating & Sex • Looks & Fashion • Food • Sports & Games • Travel • Holidays & Seasons • Shopping & Cars Science & Health (1,060-1,140): Science & Environment • Animals & Pets • Exercise & Health Civics & History (1,141-1,219): Guns & the Justice System • Government Policy • History & News

So dive into the hundreds of writing prompts below — and let us know in the comments how you might use them in your classroom.

Social Media

1. Is Social Media Making Us More Narcissistic? 2. Are You the Same Person on Social Media as You Are in Real Life? 3. How Young Is Too Young to Use Social Media? 4. What Advice Do You Have for Younger Kids About Navigating Social Media? 5. How Do You Use Facebook? 6. What Is Your Facebook Persona? 7. How Real Are You on Social Media? 8. What Memorable Experiences Have You Had on Facebook? 9. Does Facebook Ever Make You Feel Bad? 10. Does Facebook Need a ‘Dislike’ Button? 11. Has Facebook Lost Its Edge? 12. Would You Consider Deleting Your Facebook Account? 13. Would You Quit Social Media? 14. Do You Have ‘Instagram Envy’? 15. Who Is Your Favorite Social Media Star? 16. What’s So Great About YouTube? 17. What Has YouTube Taught You? 18. What Are Your Favorite Viral Videos? 19. What Are Your Favorite Internet Spoofs? 20. What Would You Teach the World in an Online Video? 21. Do You Ever Seek Advice on the Internet? 22. Would You Share an Embarrassing Story Online? 23. Do You Use Twitter? 24. Is Snapchat a Revolutionary Form of Social Media? 25. Why Do You Share Photos? 26. How Do You Archive Your Life? 27. What Ordinary Moments Would You Include in a Video About Your Life? 28. Are Digital Photographs Too Plentiful to Be Meaningful? 29. Do You Worry We Are Filming Too Much? 30. Have You Ever Posted, Emailed or Texted Something You Wish You Could Take Back? 31. Would You Want Your Photo or Video to Go Viral? 32. Do You Worry Colleges or Employers Might Read Your Social Media Posts Someday? 33. Will Social Media Help or Hurt Your College and Career Goals? 34. Should What You Say on Facebook Be Grounds for Getting Fired? 35. Are Anonymous Social Media Networks Dangerous? 36. Should People Be Allowed to Obscure Their Identities Online? 37. Are Parents Violating Their Children’s Privacy When They Share Photos and Videos of Them Online? 38. Would You Mind if Your Parents Blogged About You?

Smartphones

39. Are You Distracted by Your Phone? 40. Are You Distracted by Technology? 41. Does Technology Make Us More Alone? 42. Is Your Phone Love Hurting Your Relationships? 43. How Has the iPhone Affected Your Life? 44. How Young Is Too Young for an iPhone? 45. Do You Always Have Your Phone or Tablet at Your Side? 46. Do Screens Get in the Way of the Rest of Your Life? 47. Do You Experience FOMO When You Unplug? 48. How Much of Your Day is Voluntarily Spent Screen-Free? 49. Does Your Digital Life Have Side Effects? 50. Do You Think Teenagers Are Replacing Drugs With Smartphones? 51. Are You ‘Addicted’ to Texting? 52. How Many Text Messages Are Too Many? 53. Can a GIF Work Better Than Words? 54. Have You Ever Sent an Odd Message Because of Auto-Correct? 55. Do You Spend Too Much Time on Smartphones Playing ‘Stupid Games’? 56. Do Apps Help You or Just Waste Your Time? 57. What Makes HQ Trivia So Popular? 58. Is Pokémon Go a Positive Cultural Force? Or Is it Just Another Excuse for People to Stare at Their Phones?

Internet & Tech

59. Is the Internet Broken? 60. How Do You Protect Your Personal Information From Hackers? 61. How Careful Are You Online? 62. What Story Does Your Personal Data Tell? 63. Do You Worry About the Lack of Anonymity in the Digital Age? 64. Do You Wish You Had More Privacy Online? 65. Would You Be Willing to Pay for Facebook or Google in Exchange for Your Privacy? 66. Have You Ever Been Scammed? 67. Whom Would You Share Your Passwords With? 68. What Tech Tools Play the Biggest Role in Your Life? 69. What New Technologies or Tech Toys Are You Most Excited About? 70. To What Piece of Technology Would You Write a ‘Love Letter’? 71. Do Machines Represent a Threat to Humans? 72. Do You Think Recreational Drones Are Safe? 73. What Role Will Robots Play in Our Future? 74. Will Wearable Technology Ever Really Catch On?

Arts & Entertainment

75. What Songs Are on Your Favorite Playlist? 76. What Are You Listening To? 77. What Musicians or Bands Mean the Most to You? 78. What Music Inspires You? 79. Who in Your Life Introduces You to New Music? 80. Do You Think You’ve Already Forged Your Lifelong Taste in Music? 81. How Much Is Your Taste in Music Based on What Your Friends Like? 82. What Are Your Earliest Memories of Music? 83. Will Musical Training Make You More Successful? 84. What Role Does Hip-Hop Play in Your Life? 85. Which Pop Music Stars Fascinate You? 86. Who Is Your Favorite Pop Diva? 87. What’s Your Karaoke Song? 88. Which Artists Would You Like to See Team Up? 89. How Closely Do You Listen to Lyrics? 90. What Song Lyrics Do You Consider Literature? 91. What Current Musicians Do You Think Will Stand the Test of Time? 92. What Artists or Bands of Today Are Destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? 93. What Musician, Actor or Author Should Be a Superstar, but Hasn’t Quite Made It Yet? 94. What Artists Do You Believe Are the Future of Music? 95. What Can You Predict About the Future of the Music Industry? 96. What Artists Do You Consider ‘Sellouts’? 97. How Much Can an Artist Borrow From Earlier Musicians Before It Becomes Stealing? 98. Who Does Hip-Hop Belong To?

99. What Are Your Favorite TV Shows? 100. What Are the Best Things You’ve Watched, Read, Heard or Played This Year? 101. What Are Your TV Habits? 102. Do Your Television Viewing Habits Include ‘Binge-Watching’? 103. What Role Does Television Play in Your Life and the Life of Your Family? 104. What Television Shows Have Mattered to You? 105. How Often Do You Watch a Television Show When It Originally Airs? 106. Have You Fallen Into ‘Friends’ or Any Other Older Television Shows? 107. What Old Television Shows Would You Bring Back? 108. Why Do We Like Reality Shows So Much? 109. What Ideas Do You Have for a Reality Show? 110. What Reality TV Show Would You Want to Be a Guest Star On? 111. Should Children Be Allowed to Compete on TV? 112. What Are Your Favorite Cartoons? 113. What Are Your Favorite Commercials? 114. What Makes a Good Commercial? 115. How Much Are You Influenced by Advertising? 116. Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes? 117. Do TV Shows Like ‘16 and Pregnant’ Promote or Discourage Teenage Pregnancy? 118. Is ‘13 Reasons Why’ Raising Awareness About Teenage Suicide, or Glamorizing It? 119. Do You Watch Hollywood Awards Ceremonies? 120. Why Do We Like to Watch Rich People on TV and in the Movies? 121. Should the Private Lives of Famous People Be Off Limits? 122. Should We Be Privy to the Lives of Celebrities’ Children? 123. Do You Think Child Stars Have It Rough? 124. Does TV Capture the Diversity of America Yet? 125. Is TV Too White? 126. What Stereotypical Characters Make You Cringe? 127. What Makes a Good TV Show Finale?

Video Games

128. Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport? 129. What Have You Learned Playing Video Games? 130. What Are Your Favorite Video Games? 131. Do You Play Violent Video Games? 132. Should Stores Sell Violent Video Games to Minors? 133. Do Violent Video Games Make People More Violent in Real Life? 134. When Should You Feel Guilty for Killing Zombies? 135. Who Are Your Opponents in Online Gaming? 136. Do You Like Watching Other People Play Video Games? 137. How Excited Are You About the Possibilities of Virtual Reality? 138. Can a Video Game Be a Work of Art? 139. What Game Would You Like to Redesign? 140. How Sexist Is the Gaming World?

Movies & Theater

141. What Are Your Favorite Movies Ever? 142. What Were the Best Movies You Saw in the Past Year? 143. What Movies Do You Watch, or Reference, Over and Over? 144. What Movies, Shows or Books Do You Wish Had Sequels, Spinoffs or New Episodes? 145. What Have You Learned From Movies? 146. Do You Like Horror Movies? 147. Are ‘Dark’ Movies O.K. for Kids? 148. What Is Your Favorite Comedy? 149. Are There Topics That Should Be Off Limits to Comedy? 150. What Is Your Favorite Sports Movie? 151. Who Are Your Favorite Movie Stars? 152. Would You Pay Extra for a 3-D Movie? 153. Where, and How, Do You Watch Movies? 154. What Are the Best Live Theatrical Performances You’ve Ever Seen? 155. Have You Ever Stumbled Upon a Cool Public Performance? 156. Have You Ever Performed for an Audience or Shared Creative Work With Others? 157. Does Live Theater Offer Something You Just Can’t Get Watching Movies or TV? 158. Is Hollywood Becoming More Diverse? 159. What — if Anything — Does the Current Hollywood Film Industry Lack?

Books & Reading

160. What Are the Best Books You’ve Read? 161. Read Any Good Books Lately? 162. What Are Your Favorite Young Adult Novels? 163. What Do You Want to Read This Summer? 164. What Books Do You Think Every Teenager Should Read? 165. What Role Have Books Played in Your Life? 166. Do You Read for Pleasure? 167. Do You Have a Favorite Novelist? 168. To What Writer Would You Award a Prize? 169. Has a Book, Movie, Television Show, Song or Video Game Ever Inspired You to Do Something New? 170. When Have You Seen Yourself and Your Life Reflected in a Book or Other Media? 171. Who Are the Characters That Authors Should Be Writing About? 172. Do You Prefer Your Children’s Book Characters Obedient or Contrary? 173. How Much Power Do Books Have to Teach Young People Tolerance of Others? 174. Do You Read E-Books? 175. Are Paper Books Better Than E-Books? 176. Would You Trade Your Paper Books for Digital Versions? 177. Does Reading a Book Count More Than Listening to One? 178. What Childhood Classic Would You Like to See Turned Into a Movie or TV Show? 179. Are Shortened Versions of Classic Adult Literature Right for Young Children? 180. Is There Any Benefit to Reading Books You Hate? 181. Do You Read or Write Poetry? 182. What Memorable Poetry Have You Ever Read or Heard? 183. What Magazines Do You Read, and How Do You Read Them? 184. Do You Enjoy Reading Tabloid Gossip? 185. Are There Books That Should Be Banned From Your School Library? 186. Do We Still Need Libraries?

187. What Purpose Does Writing Serve in Your Life? 188. Why Do You Write? 189. Are You a Good Storyteller? 190. What’s Your Favorite Joke? 191. Do You Keep a Diary or Journal? 192. Do You Have a Blog? 193. Do You Want to Write a Book? 194. When Do You Write by Hand? 195. Do You Write in Cursive? 196. Do You Write in Your Books? 197. What Is Your Most Memorable Writing Assignment? 198. Do You Ever Write About Challenges You Face in Life? 199. What ‘Mundane Moments’ From Your Life Might Make Great Essay Material? 200. What Would You Write in a Letter to the Editor? 201. If You Had a Column in The New York Times, What Would You Write About? 202. Would You Ever Write Down a Secret and Bury It in the Ground?

203. What Is Your Favorite Type of Art? 204. What Are Your Favorite Works of Art? 205. What Work of Art Has Changed Your Life? 206. What Are the Most Memorable Works of Visual Art You Have Seen? 207. Which Photograph Stays In Your Memory? 208. What’s the Coolest Thing You’ve Ever Seen in a Museum? 209. Do We Need Art in Our Lives? 210. How Important Is Arts Education? 211. What Has Arts Education Done For You? 212. Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art? 213. Should Graffiti Be Protected? 214. Can You Separate Art From the Artist? 215. Is It Possible to Separate Art From the Artist Who Created It? 216. Are There Subjects That Should Be Off-Limits to Artists, or to Certain Artists in Particular? 217. Should Society Support Artists and Others Pursuing Creative Works? 218. Should Displays of Art Be Welcome in All Public Spaces? 219. Does Pop Culture Deserve Serious Study? 220. What Do You Think of the Obamas’ Portrait Choices?

Language & Speech

221. What Words Do You Hate? 222. What Words or Phrases Do You Think Are Overused? 223. How Much Slang Do You Use? What Are Your Favorite Words? 224. What Current Slang Words and Expressions Do You Think Will Endure? 225. What Words or Phrases Do You Think Are Overused? 226. What Words or Phrases Should Be Retired? 227. Why Do So Many People Say ‘Like’ and ‘Totally’ All the Time? 228. Do You Say ‘Kind of, Sort of’ More Than You Realize? 229. How Much Do You Curse? 230. Have Curse Words Become So Common They Have Lost Their Shock Value? 231. Do Laws That Ban Offensive Words Make the World a Better Place? 232. How Good Are You at Coming Up With Witty Comebacks? 233. When Did You Last Have a Great Conversation? 234. What Makes a Great Conversation? 235. How Often Do You Have ‘Deep Discussions’? 236. Do You Wish Your Conversations Were Less Small Talk and More ‘Big Talk’? 237. Are We Losing the Art of Listening? 238. How Do You Greet Your Friends and Family? 239. When Do You Choose Making a Phone Call Over Sending a Text? 240. How Much Information Is ‘Too Much Information’? 241. What Does Your Body Language Communicate? 242. Do You Sometimes ‘Hide’ Behind Irony? 243. How Good Is Your Grammar? 244. Does Punctuation in Text Messages Matter? 245. When Do You Remember Learning a New Word? 246. Where Do You Find the Meanings of Unfamiliar Words? 247. Do You Speak a Second, or Third, Language? 248. Should Everyone Learn at Least One Other Language?

School & Careers

249. Should the School Day Start Later? 250. Would a Later School Start Time Increase Student Success? 251. Is Your School Day Too Short? 252. Should Schools Cancel Summer Vacation? 253. Do You Think a Longer School Calendar Is a Good Idea? 254. Should the Dropout Age Be Raised? 255. Should We Rethink How Long Students Spend in High School? 256. Should Students Be Allowed to Skip Senior Year of High School? 257. Should Kids Head to College Early? 258. Do You Like School? 259. Are You Stressed About School? 260. Are High School Students Being Worked Too Hard? 261. What Are You Really Learning at School? 262. What Are You Looking Forward To, or Dreading, This School Year? 263. Would You Rather Attend a Public or a Private High School? 264. How Much Does It Matter to You Which High School You Attend? 265. Are Small Schools More Effective Than Large Schools? 266. Would You Want to Go to a School Like This One? 267. What Kind of Education System Do You Think Is Best? 268. How Would You Grade Your School? 269. What Can Other Schools Learn — and Copy — From Your School? 270. What Would You Miss if You Left Your School? 271. What Do You Hope to Get Out of High School? 272. Should High Schools Do More to Prepare You for Careers? 273. Would You Want to Be Home-Schooled? 274. Should Home-Schoolers Be Allowed to Play Public School Sports? 275. Should All Children Be Able to Go to Preschool? 276. What Is the Purpose of Preschool? 277. Should Kindergarten Be More About Play or Literacy?

Learning & Studying

278. Do Teachers Assign Too Much Homework? 279. Does Your Homework Help You Learn? 280. Do You Need a Homework Therapist? 281. Do You Participate in Class? 282. What Is the Right Amount of Group Work in School? 283. What Do You Think of Grouping Students by Ability in Schools? 284. Does Class Size Matter? 285. What Is Your Best Subject? 286. What’s the Most Challenging Assignment You’ve Ever Had? 287. What Is the Most Memorable Concept You’ve Learned in Science Class, and How Did You Learn It? 288. What Memorable Experiences Have You Had in Learning Science or Math? 289. Are You Afraid of Math? 290. Do We Need a Better Way to Teach Math? 291. Is Shakespeare Too Hard? 292. What Are the Best Ways to Learn About History? 293. How Would You Do on a Civics Test? 294. Does Geography Skill Make You a Better Citizen? 295. What Career or Technical Classes Do You Wish Your School Offered? 296. Does Gym Help Students Perform Better in All Their Classes? 297. Should Reading and Math Be Taught in Gym Class Too? 298. Do You Learn Better After Moving Around? 299. Do Kids Need Recess? 300. What Was Your Favorite Field Trip? 301. What Are Your Best Tips for Studying? 302. Do You Use Study Guides? 303. Is Everything You’ve Been Taught About Study Habits Wrong? 304. What Would You Like to Have Memorized? 305. Should Schools Be Teaching, and Evaluating, Social-Emotional Skills Like ‘Grit’? 306. Should Schools Teach You How to Be Happy? 307. Should Schools Teach Children How to Cook? 308. What ‘Pop-Up’ Classes Do You Wish Your School Offered? 309. Do Schools Provide Students With Enough Opportunities to Be Creative? 310. Does the Way Your Classroom Is Decorated Affect Your Learning? 311. How Much Does Your Life in School Intersect With Your Life Outside School?

Teachers & Grading

312. What Do You Wish Your Teachers Knew About You? 313. When Has a Teacher Inspired You? 314. Has a Teacher Ever Changed Your Mind-Set? 315. What Teacher Would You Like to Thank? 316. What Makes a Good Teacher? 317. Class Time + Substitute = Waste? 318. Should Students Be Able to Grade Their Teachers? 319. How Formal Should Students Be When Interacting with their Teachers and Professors? 320. Have You Ever Been Humiliated by a Teacher? How Did it Affect You? 321. Have Your Teachers or Textbooks Ever Gotten It Wrong? 322. Do You Feel Your School and Teachers Welcome Both Conservative and Liberal Points of View? 323. Do You Have a Tutor? 324. How Important Are Parent-Teacher Conferences? 325. Should Students Be Present at Parent-Teacher Conferences? 326. How Should Parents Handle a Bad Report Card? 327. Does Your School Hand Out Too Many A’s? 328. Do Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys in Your School? 329. How Well Do You Think Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities? 330. How Seriously Should We Take Standardized Tests? 331. Do You Spend Too Much Time Preparing for Standardized Tests? 332. Should Schools Offer Cash Bonuses for Good Test Scores? 333. Do Your Test Scores Reflect How Good Your Teachers Are? 334. Should Discomfort Excuse Students From Having to Complete an Assignment? 335. Should Schools Give Students ‘Body’ Report Cards?

Education Tech

336. Are the Web Filters at Your School Too Restrictive? 337. Does Technology in the Classroom Ever Get in the Way of Learning? 338. Do Your Teachers Use Technology Well? 339. Should Tablet Computers Become the Primary Way Students Learn in Class? 340. Can Cellphones Be Educational Tools? 341. Should Students Be Barred From Taking Cellphones to School? 342. Should Teachers and Professors Ban Student Use of Laptops in Class? 343. How Do You Use Wikipedia? 344. Should There Be More Educational Video Games in School? 345. Is Online Learning as Good as Face-to-Face Learning? 346. Would You Like to Take a Class Online? 347. Is Live-Streaming Classrooms a Good Idea? 348. How Would You Feel About a Computer Grading Your Essays? 349. Who Should Be Able to See Students’ Records? 350. Does Your School Offer Enough Opportunities to Learn Computer Programming? 351. Does Your School Value Students’ Digital Skills? 352. Do You Know How to Code? Would You Like to Learn?

School Rules & Student Life

353. Are School Dress Codes a Good Idea? 354. How Does Your School Deal With Students Who Misbehave? 355. Can Students at Your School Talk Openly About Their Mental Health Issues? 356. What Role Should the Police Have in Schools? 357. What Are the Best Teaching Methods for Getting Students to Behave Well in Class? 358. Should Schools Be Allowed to Use Corporal Punishment? 359. Is Cheating Getting Worse? 360. Do You Know People Who Cheat on High-Stakes Tests? 361. Is a ‘Regret Clause’ a Good Idea for Cases of Academic Dishonesty? 362. Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ ID Cards? 363. How Should Schools Handle Unvaccinated Students? 364. How Big a Problem Is Bullying or Cyberbullying in Your School or Community? 365. How Should Schools Address Bullying? 366. How Should Schools Address Cyberbullying? 367. What Should the Punishment Be for Acts of Cyberbullying? 368. When Do Pranks Cross the Line to Become Bullying? 369. How Should Schools Respond to Hazing Incidents? 370. How Do You Feel About Proms? 371. Is Prom Worth It? 372. Do You Want to Be ‘Promposed’ To? 373. Is Prom Just an Excuse to Drink? 374. What’s the Best Party You’ve Ever Been To? 375. What Role Do School Clubs and Teams Play in Your Life? 376. Should All Students Get Equal Space in a Yearbook? 377. Should Yearbooks Include Political News? 378. Should School Newspapers Be Subject to Prior Review? 379. Should More Student Journalists Have Independent Editorial Control? 380. What Are Your Thoughts on Riding the School Bus?

381. How Necessary Is a College Education? 382. Is College Overrated? 383. How Prepared Are You For College? How Well Do You Think You’ll Do? 384. What Worries Do You Have About College? 385. Where Do You Want to Go to College? 386. Does It Matter Where You Go to College? 387. Do College Rankings Really Matter? 388. Do Other People Care Too Much About Your Post-High School Plans? 389. What Are Your Sources for Information About Colleges and Universities? 390. Should Colleges Find a Better Way to Admit Students? 391. Is the College Admissions Process Fair? 392. Should Colleges Use Admissions Criteria Other Than SAT Scores and Grades? 393. Do You Support Affirmative Action in College Admissions? 394. Are Early-Decision Programs Unfair? Should Colleges Do Away With Them? 395. What Criteria Should Be Used in Awarding Scholarships for College? 396. Should Engineers Pay Less for College Than English Majors? 397. What Is the Perfect Number of College Applications to Send? 398. What Role Has Community College Played in Your Life or the Life of Someone You Know? 399. How Much Do You Worry About Taking the SAT or ACT? 400. What Personal Essay Topic Would You Assign to College Applicants? 401. What Qualities Would You Look For in a College Roommate? 402. Would You Want to Take a Gap Year After High School? 403. What Specialty College Would You Create? 404. What Makes a Graduation Ceremony Memorable? 405. Should a College Education be Free? 406. Is Student Debt Worth It? 407. Are Lavish Amenities on College Campuses Useful or Frivolous? 408. Do Fraternities Promote Misogyny? 409. Should Fraternities Be Abolished? 410. Is a Sorority a Good Place for a Feminist? 411. Should Colleges Offer Degrees in Sports? 412. Should ‘Despised Dissenters’ Be Allowed to Speak on College Campuses?

Work & Careers

413. What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? 414. Do You Have a Life Calling? 415. What’s Your Dream Job? 416. What Jobs Are You Most Curious About? 417. What Are Your Longtime Interests or Passions? 418. Do You Think You Will Have a Career That You Love? 419. How Can You Ensure That Your Future Career is Right for You? 420. What Do You Want More From a Career: Happiness or Wealth? 421. What Investment Are You Willing to Make to Get Your Dream Job? 422. Would You Consider Moving Overseas for a Job? 423. What Do You Hope to Be Doing the Year After You Graduate From College? 424. What Would You Choose to Do If You Had Unlimited Free Time and No Restrictions? 425. Is ‘Doing Nothing’ a Good Use of Your Time? 426. Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years? 427. Would You Like to Be Famous? 428. Would You Consider a Nontraditional Occupation? 429. Would You Rather Work From Home or in an Office? 430. Would You Want to Be a Teacher? 431. Would You Like to Be a Fashion Model? 432. What Hidden Talents Might You Have? 433. What ‘Back-to-the-Land’ Skills Do You Have, or Wish You Had? 434. Would You Like to Be a Farmer? 435. What Skill Could You Teach in Two Minutes? 436. What Have You Made Yourself? 437. What Would You Like to Learn to Make by Hand? 438. What Idea Do You Have That Is Ahead of Its Time? 439. Do You Have an Idea for a Business or App? 440. What Would You Create if You Had Funding? 441. How Did You Start Doing Something You Love? 442. Did You Ever Take a Break From Doing Something You Love? 443. What Have You Done to Earn Money? 444. Do You Have a Job? 445. Is It O.K. to Use Family Connections to Get a Job? 446. Should All High School Students Be Able to Get a Summer Job if They Want One? 447. Would You Quit if Your Values Did Not Match Your Employer’s? 448. Should Employers Be Able to Review Job Applicants’ SAT Scores? 449. How Important Is Related Experience in Doing a Job?

Identity & Family

450. How Close Are You to Your Parents? 451. How Are You and Your Parents Alike and Different? 452. Will You Follow in Your Parents’ Footsteps? 453. Are You Being Raised to Pursue Your Dreams? 454. Do You Have Helicopter Parents? 455. Do Your Parents Spy on You? 456. How Permissive Are Your Parents? 457. How Much Freedom Have Your Parents Given You? 458. At What Age Should Children Be Allowed to Go Places Without Adult Supervision? 459. Should Children Be Allowed to Wear Whatever They Want? 460. How Do Your Parents Teach You to Behave? 461. How, and by Whom, Should Children Be Taught Appropriate Behavior? 462. How Should Parents Discipline Their Kids? 463. When Does Discipline Become Child Abuse? 464. Should Parents Bribe Their Children? 465. Should Parents Make Their Children Clean Their Room? 466. How Do You Make Parenting Difficult for Your Parents? 467. How Often Do You Fight With Your Parents? 468. What Advice Would You Give to Your Mom, Dad or Guardian on How to Be a Better Parent? 469. Do Your Parents Try Too Hard to Be Cool? 470. Do You Ever Feel Embarrassed by Your Parents? 471. Do Your Parents Support Your Learning? 472. Do You Talk About Report Cards With Your Parents? 473. Do You Want Your Parents to Stop Asking You ‘How Was School?’ 474. How Much Do Your Parents Help With Your Homework? 475. Have Your Parents and Teachers Given You Room to Create? 476. How Closely Do Your Parents Monitor Your App Use? 477. Should Parents Limit How Much Time Children Spend on Tech Devices?

478. Who Is Your Family? 479. How Do You Define ‘Family’? 480. What Have You and Your Family Accomplished Together? 481. What Events Have Brought You Closer to Your Family? 482. How Has Your Family Helped or Hindered Your Transition to a New School? 483. What’s Your Role in Your Family? 484. Have You Ever Changed a Family Member’s Mind? 485. How Well Do You Get Along With Your Siblings? 486. Is Your Family Stressed, Tired and Rushed? 487. What Are Your Family Stories of Sacrifice? 488. What Possessions Does Your Family Treasure? 489. What Hobbies Have Been Passed Down in Your Family? 490. What’s the Story Behind Your Name? 491. What Are Your Favorite Names? 492. How Have You Paid Tribute to Loved Ones? 493. What Does the World Need to Know About an Important Person in Your Life? 494. What Do You Know About Your Family’s History? 495. Did Your Parents Have a Life Before They Had Kids? 496. What Family Traditions Do You Want to Carry On When You Get Older?

Childhood Memories

497. What Is Your Earliest Memory? 498. What Was Your Most Precious Childhood Possession? 499. What Is Your Most Prized Possession? 500. What Objects Tell the Story of Your Life? 501. What Do You Collect? 502. What Were Your Favorite Childhood Shows and Characters? 503. Do You Have Childhood Memories of Being Read Aloud To? 504. What Were Your Favorite Picture Books When You Were Little? 505. What Things Did You Create When You Were a Child? 506. What Places Do You Remember Fondly From Childhood? 507. What Food or Flavor Do You Remember Tasting for the First Time? 508. What Do You Wish You Could See, Hear, Read or Experience for the First Time All Over Again? 509. What Childhood Rules Did You Break? 510. Have You Ever Felt Embarrassed by Things You Used to Like? 511. Do You Wish You Could Return to Moments From Your Past? 512. Was There a Toy You Wanted as a Child but Never Got? 513. What’s the Best Gift You’ve Ever Given or Received? 514. Have You Ever Given, or Received, a Perfect Gift? 515. What’s the Most Memorable Thing You Ever Got in the Mail? 516. Have You Ever Lost (or Found) Something Valuable? 517. What Nicknames Have You Ever Gotten or Given? 518. What Are Your Best Sleepover Memories? 519. What Old, Worn Out Thing Can You Just Not Part With?

520. Is It Harder to Grow Up in the 21st Century Than It Was in the Past? 521. Is Modern Culture Ruining Childhood? 522. Are Adults Hurting Young Children by Pushing Them to Achieve? 523. Is Childhood Today Too Risk-Free? 524. Do We Give Children Too Many Trophies? 525. What Have You Learned in Your Teens? 526. What Do You Remember Best About Being 12? 527. What Personal Achievements Make You Proud? 528. What Are You Grateful For? 529. What Are Some Recent Moments of Happiness in Your Life? 530. What Rites of Passage Have You Participated In? 531. What Advice Would You Give Younger Kids About Middle or High School? 532. What Have You Learned From Older People? 533. What Have You Learned From a Younger Person — and What Have You Taught An Older Person? 534. What Can Older People Learn From Your Generation? 535. What Do Older Generations Misunderstand About Yours? 536. Do You Recognize Yourself in Descriptions of ‘Generation Z’? 537. What Should We Call Your Generation? 538. When Do You Become an Adult? 539. Do You Have ‘Emerging Adult’ Skills? 540. When You Are Old Enough to Vote, Will You? 541. When Should You Be Able to Buy Cigarettes, Drink Alcohol, Vote, Drive and Fight in Wars? 542. Does Your Generation Have Too Much Self-Esteem? 543. Is Your Generation More Self-Centered Than Earlier Generations? 544. Do You Think Anxiety Is A Serious Problem Among Young People? 545. Is Our Culture of Online Shaming Out of Control? 546. Do ‘Shame and Blame’ Work to Change Teenage Behavior? 547. Do You Think Teenagers Can Make a Difference in the World?

Overcoming Adversity

548. What Challenges Have You Overcome? 549. What Are Your Secret Survival Strategies? 550. What Do You Do When You Encounter Obstacles to Success? 551. When Have You Failed? What Did You Learn From It? 552. When Have You Ever Succeeded When You Thought You Might Fail? 553. What Life Lessons Has Adversity Taught You? 554. Does Suffering Make Us Stronger and Lead to Success? 555. Which Is More Important: Talent or Hard Work? 556. Are You Hopeful About the Future? 557. When Have You Reinvented Yourself? 558. What Work Went Into Reaching Your Most Difficult Goals? 559. Is Struggle Essential to Happiness? 560. How Often Do You Leave Your ‘Comfort Zone’? 561. What Do You Gain From Pursuing Something You Do Really, Really Badly? 562. When Was the Last Time You Did Something That Scared or Challenged You? 563. What Are You Afraid Of? 564. What Are Your Fears and Phobias? 565. What Are Your Personal Superstitions? 566. Do You Like Being Alone? 567. How Often Do You Cry? 568. Do You Ever Feel Overlooked and Underappreciated? 569. How Have You Handled Being the ‘New Kid’? 570. How Do You Deal With Haters? 571. How Do You React When Provoked? 572. What Good Can Come from Disagreements? 573. When Should You Compromise? 574. Have You Ever Changed Your Mind About a Hot-Button Issue? 575. What Role Does Stress Play in Your Life? 576. Does Stress Affect Your Ability to Make Good Decisions? 577. How Do You Relieve Stress? 578. How Important Is Keeping Your Cool? 579. Is ‘Be Yourself’ Bad Advice? 580. Do People Complain Too Much? 581. What’s Your Favorite Mood Booster? 582. How Do You Find Peace in Your Life? 583. Does Your Life Leave You Enough Time to Relax? 584. Do You Set Rules for Yourself About How You Use Your Time? 585. What Did You Once Hate but Now Like? 586. What Kind of Feedback Helps You Improve? 587. Is Trying Too Hard to Be Happy Making You Sad? 588. Does Achieving Success Always Include Being Happy? 589. Do Adults Who Are ‘Only Trying to Help’ Sometimes Make Things Worse? 590. Have You Ever Felt Pressured by Family or Others in Making an Important Decision About Your Future?

Your Personality

591. What Makes You Happy? 592. What Motivates You? 593. What Are You Good At? 594. What Is Your Personal Credo? 595. When in Your Life Have You Been a Leader? 596. Are You More of a Leader or a Follower? 597. Do Great Leaders Have to Be Outgoing? 598. How Well Do You Perform Under Pressure? 599. How Well Do You Take Criticism? 600. Are You Hard or Easy on Yourself? 601. How Full Is Your Glass? 602. Do You Have a Hard Time Making Decisions? 603. How Much Self-Control Do You Have? 604. How Good Are You at Waiting for What You Really Want? 605. What Role Does Procrastination Play in Your Life? 606. How Good Are You at Time Management? 607. What Kind of Time Management Skills Are You Learning from the Adults in Your Life? 608. How Do You Remember What You Need to Remember? 609. How Productive and Organized Are You? 610. Under What Conditions Do You Do Your Best Work? 611. How Do You Express Yourself Creatively? 612. Can Creativity Be Scheduled? 613. Are You a Good Listener? 614. When and For What Reasons Do You Seek Silence? 615. Are You a Perfectionist? 616. How Competitive Are You? 617. Do You Perform Better When You’re Competing or When You’re Collaborating? 618. Has Modesty Ever Prevented You From Celebrating an Achievement? 619. How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? 620. How Stoic Are You? 621. How Do You Cope With Grief? 622. How Good Are You at Saying Goodbye? 623. Do You Take More Risks When You Are Around Your Friends? 624. Do You Unknowingly Submit to Peer Pressure? 625. Have You Ever Felt Pressured to Betray Your Beliefs? 626. How Easy — or Hard — Is It for You to Say No When You Want To? 627. How Do You Handle Fear? 628. Do You Think You’re Brave? 629. How Much of a Daredevil Are You? 630. What Activities Make You Feel Most Alive? 631. What Pranks, Jokes, Hoaxes or Tricks Have You Ever Fallen For or Perpetrated? 632. How Impulsive Are You? 633. Are You a Novelty-Seeker? 634. How Do You Deal With Boredom? 635. How Often Do You Talk to Yourself? 636. What Annoys You? 637. Do You Apologize Too Much? 638. Do You Know How to Say ‘I’m Sorry?’ 639. Do You Have Good Manners? 640. How Materialistic Are You? 641. Are You a Saver or a Tosser? 642. Are You a Hoarder or a Minimalist? 643. Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert? 644. Are You Popular, Quirky or Conformist? 645. Are You a Nerd or a Geek? 646. What Would Your Personal Mascot Be? 647. What Assumptions Do People Make About You? 648. How Strong Is Your Sense of Smell? 649. What Animal Are You Most Like?

Religion & Morality

650. What Is the Role of Religion or Spirituality in Your Life? 651. How Important Is Your Spiritual Life? 652. Do You Believe That Everything Happens for a Reason? 653. How Much Control Do You Think You Have Over Your Fate? 654. Can You Be Good Without God? 655. Are You Less Religious Than Your Parents? 656. Can You Pass a Basic Religion Test? 657. What Can You Learn From Other Religions? 658. Do You Believe That Everything Happens for a Reason? 659. How Important Do You Think It Is to Marry Someone With the Same Religion? 660. How Trustworthy Are You? 661. How Comfortable Are You With Lying? 662. When Do You Lie? 663. Have You Ever Lied to Your Parents or Done Something Behind Their Backs? 664. Can You Spot a Liar? 665. What Ethical Dilemmas Have You Faced? 666. Have You Ever Had to Make a Sacrifice to Help Someone You Care About? 667. Have You Ever Donated Your Time, Talents, Possessions or Money to Support Anyone in Need? 668. When Is the Last Time You Did Something Nice for a Stranger? 669. Do Bystanders Have a Responsibility to Intervene When There is Trouble? 670. Do Leaders Have Moral Obligations? 671. Have You Ever ‘Paid It Forward’? 672. Can Kindness Become Cool? 673. What Acts of Kindness Have You Witnessed or Participated In? 674. Is Teenage ‘Voluntourism’ Wrong? 675. Have You Ever Taken Something You Weren’t Supposed To? 676. When Is Looting Morally O.K.? 677. Do You Ever Eavesdrop? 678. How Much Do You Gossip?

Role Models

679. Who Are the People – Famous or Not – You Admire Most? 680. Who Are Your Heroes? 681. What Is a Hero? 682. Do We Need More Diverse Superheroes? 683. Who Is Your Role Model? 684. Who Inspires You? 685. What Makes Someone a Great Leader? 686. What Acts of Bravery Have You Witnessed? 687. What’s the Best Advice You’ve Gotten? 688. What Are Some ‘Words of Wisdom’ That Guide Your Life? 689. Who Outside Your Family Has Made a Difference in Your Life? 690. If You Had Your Own Talk Show, Whom Would You Want to Interview? 691. To Whom, or What, Would You Like to Write a Thank-You Note? 692. What Leader Would You Invite to Speak at Your School? 693. What Six People, Living or Dead, Would You Invite to Dinner? 694. Who’s Your ‘Outsider Role Model’?

695. Have You Ever Been Told You Couldn’t Do Something Because of Your Gender? 696. Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons Than for Their Daughters? 697. How Do Your Parents Share the Responsibilities of Parenting? 698. How Do Male and Female Roles Differ in Your Family? 699. Do You Consider Yourself a Feminist? 700. What Does Feminism Mean to You? 701. What Have You Learned From the Women in Your Life? 702. What Experiences Have You Had With Gender Bias in School? 703. Is School Designed More for Girls Than Boys? 704. Why Do Boys Lag Behind Girls in Reading? 705. Does Separating Boys and Girls Help Students Perform Better in School? 706. Is Single-Sex Education Still Useful? 707. What Does it Mean to Be ‘a Real Man’? 708. Do We Need to Teach Boys and Men to Be More Emotionally Honest? 709. What Have Been Your Experiences With Catcalling or Other Kinds of Street Harassment? 710. What Should We Do to Fight Sexual Violence Against Young Women? 711. How Should the Problem of Sexual Assault on Campuses Be Addressed? 712. What Is Your Reaction to the #MeToo Movement? 713. Why Aren’t There More Girls in Leadership Roles? 714. Do Professional Women Need a ‘Girls’ Lounge’? 715. Why Aren’t More Girls Choosing to Pursue Careers in Math and Science? 716. Why Aren’t More Girls Pursuing Careers in Computing and Tech Fields? 717. Now That Women Can Serve in All Combat Roles in the U.S. Military, Should They Also Be Required to Register for the Draft? 718. Do Female Athletes Get Short Shrift? 719. Should Sports Be Coed? 720. Should the Boy Scouts Be Coed? 721. Do You Believe in Equal Rights for Women and Men? 722. Does the U.S. Constitution Need an Equal Rights Amendment? 723. Is It Harder Being a Girl? 724. Do We Need New Ways to Identify Gender and Sexuality? 725. Should Toys Be More Gender-Neutral? 726. Should There Be More Boy Dolls? 727. What Rules Should Apply to Transgender Athletes When They Compete? 728. Are Women Better at Compromising and Collaborating? 729. Do Boys Have Less Intense Friendships Than Girls?

Race & Ethnicity

730. Is America ‘Backsliding’ on Race? 731. Why Is Race So Hard to Talk About? 732. How Often Do You Interact With People of Another Race or Ethnicity? 733. Do You Ever Talk About Issues of Race and Class With Your Friends? 734. What Is Your Racial and Ethnic Identity? 735. Have You Ever Tried to Hide Your Racial or Ethnic Identity? 736. Have You Experienced Racism or Other Kinds of Discrimination in School? 737. Is Your Generation Really ‘Postracial’? 738. What’s the Racial Makeup of Your School? 739. Does Your School Seem Integrated? 740. Should Schools Strive for Racial Diversity Among Teachers? 741. How Should Parents Teach Their Children About Race and Racism? 742. Is ‘Black Panther’ a ‘Defining Moment’ for the United States — and Particularly for Black America?

Your Neighborhood & Home

743. How Much Does Your Neighborhood Define Who You Are? 744. What’s Special About Your Hometown? 745. What Marketing Slogan Would You Use for Your Town or City? 746. What Would You Name Your Neighborhood? 747. Who Are the ‘Characters’ That Make Your Town Interesting? 748. Who Is the ‘Mayor’ of Your School or Neighborhood? 749. What Do the Types of Dogs in Your Neighborhood Say About Where You Live? 750. What Would a TV Show About Your Town Spoof? 751. What ‘Urban Legends’ Are There About Places in Your Area? 752. Do You Know Your Way Around Your City or Town? 753. How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors? 754. What Is Your Favorite Place? 755. What’s Your Favorite Neighborhood Joint? 756. What Is Your Favorite Street? 757. Do You Hang Out in the Park? 758. How Much Time Do You Spend in Nature? 759. How Do You Get Your Nature Fix? 760. What Small Things Have You Seen and Taken Note Of Today? 761. What Buildings Do You Love? What Buildings Do You Hate? 762. What Are the Sounds That Make Up the Background Noise in Your Life? 763. What Sounds Annoy You? 764. What Public Behavior Annoys You Most? 765. Have You Ever Interacted With the Police? 766. What Local Problems Do You Think Your Mayor Should Try to Solve? 767. What Ideas Do You Have for Enhancing Your Community? 768. Where Do You Think You Will Live When You Are an Adult? 769. Do You Think That in Your 20s You Will Live in a City? 770. Would You Most Want to Live in a City, a Suburb or the Country? 771. Do You Think You Might Like Communal Living When You’re an Adult? 772. What Would Your Ideal City Look Like? 773. What City or Town Most Captures Your Imagination? 774. Would You Want a Bike Share Program for Your Community? 775. Is Your Bedroom a Nightmare? 776. What is Your Favorite Place in Your House? 777. What’s Your Favorite Room? 778. How Important Is Keeping a Clean House? 779. Do You Need to De-Clutter Your Life? 780. Does Keeping a Messy Desk Make People More Creative? 781. Do You Plan on Saving Any of Your Belongings for the Future? 782. With Your Home in Danger, What Would You Try to Save? 783. What Would You Grab in a Fire? 784. What Would You Put in Your Emergency ‘Go-Bag’? 785. Who Lived Long Ago Where You Live Now? 786. What Would Your Dream Home Be Like?

Money & Social Class

787. What Are Your Expectations About Earning, Saving and Spending Money? 788. What Choices Do You Make About Money Every Day? 789. Are You a Saver or a Spender? 790. What Have Your Parents Taught You About Money? 791. Do You Expect Your Parents to Give You Money? 792. How Much Financial Help Do You Expect From Your Parents in the Future? 793. How Important a Role Has Money, Work or Social Class Played in Your Life? 794. Do You See Great Disparities of Wealth in Your Community? 895. Is It Possible to Start Out Poor in This Country, Work Hard and Become Well-Off? 896. Should Rich People Have to Pay More Taxes? 897. Do We Need a Higher Minimum Wage? 898. Can Money Buy You Happiness? 899. Does Buying and Accumulating More and More Stuff Make Us Happier? 800. What Are the Best Things in Life and Are They Free? 801. What Causes Should Philanthropic Groups Finance? 802. Should Charities Focus More on America? 803. What Organizations Do You Think People Should Give to This Holiday Season? 804. Whom, or What, Would You Want to Help With a Crowdfunding Campaign? 805. Do Poor People ‘Have It Easy’? 806. Should People Give Money to Panhandlers? 8

807. What Would You Do if You Won the Lottery? 808. What Superpower Do You Wish You Had? 809. What Era Do You Wish You Had Lived In? 810. Would You Want to Be a Tween or Teen Star? 811. Would You Want to Be a Child Prodigy? 812. Would You Want to Grow Up in the Public Eye? 813. What Kind of Robot Would You Want? 814. What Fantasy Invention Would You Want to Exist in Reality? 815. What Would You Outsource if You Could? 816. What Would You Like to Learn on Your Own? 817. What Would You Be Willing to Wait in a Really Long Line For? 818. If You Were a Super Rich Philanthropist, What Causes Would You Support? 819. What Would You Do if You Were President? 820. What Famous Person Would You Like to Visit Your School? 821 Who Would Be the Ideal Celebrity Neighbor? 822. What Do You Want to Be Doing When You’re 80? 823. Do You Want to Live to 100? 824. What Do You Want Your Obituary to Say? 825. What Do You Want to Be Known for After Your Death? 826. Would You Like to Be Cryogenically Preserved (Frozen!) Upon Your Death? 827. If the World Was Ending, What Would You Want to Say? 828. What Items Would You Place in a Time Capsule for Future Generations?

Social Life & Leisure Time

829. Do You Spend Enough Time With Other People? 830. How Often Do You Spend One-on-One Time With Your Closest Friends? 831. Do You Have a Best Friend? 832. Do You Find It Easier to Make New Friends Online or In Person? 833. How Good a Friend Are You? 834. Do You Like Your Friends? 835. What Fads Are You and Your Friends Into Right Now? 836. How Have You Helped a Friend in a Time of Need? 837. Do You Have Any Unlikely Friendships? 838. How Do You Feel About Introducing Friends from Different Parts of Your Life? 839. Do You Ever ‘Mix It Up’ and Socialize With Different People at School? 840. Is Competitiveness an Obstacle to Making or Keeping Friendships? 841. How Should You Handle the End of a Friendship? 842. Have You Ever Felt Left Out?

Dating & Sex

843. Have You Ever Been in Love? 844. What Advice Would You Give to Somebody Who Just Started Dating? 845. Are You Allowed to Date? 846. Is Dating a Thing of the Past? 847. How Do You Think Technology Affects Dating? 848. What Are the Basic ‘Rules’ for Handling Breakups? 849. What’s the Best Way to Get Over a Breakup? 850. What’s the Best Way to Heal a Broken Heart? 851. What Are the Most Meaningful Relationships in Your Life? 852. What Are Your Beliefs About Marriage? 853. Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage? 854. Should Your Significant Other Be Your Best Friend? 855. Could Following These Directions Make You Fall in Love With a Stranger? 856. How Should Children Be Taught About Puberty and Sex? 857. Is Hookup Culture Leaving Your Generation Unhappy and Unprepared for Love? 858. Are Affirmative Consent Rules a Good Idea? 859. Should Birth Control Pills Be Available to Teenage Girls Without a Prescription? 860. Should the Morning-After Pill Be Sold Over the Counter to People Under 17? 861. How Big of a Problem Is Sexting? 862. What Advice Should Parents and Counselors Give Teenagers About Sexting? 863. How Should Parents Address Internet Pornography? 864. Do You Think Porn Influences the Way Teenagers Think About Sex? 865. How Did You Learn About Sex?

Looks & Fashion

866. Are Models Too Skinny? 867. Is There Too Much Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies? 868. How Much Pressure Do Boys Face to Have the Perfect Body? 869. Have You Inherited Your Parents’ Attitudes Toward Their Looks? 870. Has Anyone Ever Said That You Look Like Someone Famous? 871. What Is Your All-Time Favorite Piece of Clothing? 872. Do You Have a Signature Clothing Item? 873. What’s Your Favorite T-Shirt? 874. Do You Care What You Wear? 875. Does What You Wear Say Anything About You as a Person? 876. Should You Always Have the Right to Wear What You Want? 877. What Does Your Hairstyle Say About You? 878. What’s on Your Fashion Shopping List? 879. Are You a Sneaker Head? 880. How Far Would You Go for Fashion? 881. Should You Care About the Health and Safety of Those Making Your Clothing? 882. What Are the Hot Fashion Trends at Your School Right Now? 883. What Current Trends Annoy You? 884. Do ‘Saggy Pants’ Mean Disrespect? 885. Would You Ever Consider Getting a Tattoo? 886. Who Should Decide Whether a Teenager Can Get a Tattoo or Piercing? 887. What Are Your Opinions on Cosmetic Surgery? 888. Do Photoshopped Images Make You Feel Bad About Your Own Looks? 889. Doctored Photos: O.K. or Not? 890. How Important Is It to Be Attractive in Our Society?

Meals & Food

891. What Foods Bring Up Special Memories for You? 892. What Are the Most Memorable Meals You’ve Ever Had? 893. What’s Your Favorite Holiday Food Memory? 894. What’s Your Comfort Food? 895. What Are Your Favorite Junk Foods? 896. What’s Your Favorite Candy? 897. What’s Your Favorite Sandwich? 898. What Convenience Foods Make You Happy? 899. Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, a Picky Eater? 900. What Are Your ‘Food Rules’? 901. What Messages About Food and Eating Have You Learned From Your Family? 902. How Often Does Your Family Eat Together? 903. How Much Food Does Your Family Waste? 904. Have You Ever Experienced Food Insecurity? 905. Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day? 906. Do You Prefer Your Tacos ‘Authentic’ or ‘Appropriated’? 907. What Food Would You Like to Judge in a Taste-Off? 908. Do You Cook? 909. What Would You Most Like to Learn to Cook or Bake? 910. What Do You Eat During the School Day? 911. Do You Eat Cafeteria Food? 912. Is School Lunch Really All That Bad? 913. Do You Think a Healthier School Lunch Program Is a Lost Cause? 914. Should French Fries and Pizza Sauce Count as Vegetables? 915. Are Your Eating Habits Healthy? 916. How Concerned Are You About Where Your Food Comes From? 917. Is It Ethical to Eat Meat? 918. Do You Pay Attention to Calorie Counts for Food? 919. Do You Pay Attention to Nutrition Labels on Food? 920. Should Sugary Drinks Be Taxed? 921. Should the Government Limit the Size of Sugary Drinks? 922. Should Teenagers Think Twice Before Downing Energy Drinks? 923. Do You Eat Too Quickly? 924. Are Manners Important? 925. What Are Your Favorite Restaurants? 926. What Restaurant Would You Most Like to Review? 927. How Long Is It O.K. to Linger in a Cafe or Restaurant? 928. Should Restaurants Do Away With Tipping?

Sports & Games

929. What’s the Most Impressive Sports Moment You’ve Seen? 930. Who Is Your Favorite Athlete, and Why? 931. Who Are Your Sports Heroes? 932. What Sports Teams Do You Root For? 933. When Has a Sports Team Most Disappointed You? 934. Do You Participate in March Madness? 935. Does Being a Fan Help Define Who You Are? 936. How Far Would You Go to Express Loyalty to Your Favorite Teams? 937. How Much Should Fans Be Allowed to Distract Opposing Teams? 938. What Fan Memorabilia Would You Pay Big Bucks For? 939. Are You a Fair-Weather Fan? 940. Are You a Football Fan? 941. Do You Watch the Super Bowl? 942. Should Parents Let Their Children Play Football? 943. Should High Schools Drop Football Because Too Many Players Are Getting Injured? 944. If Football Is So Dangerous to Players, Should We Be Watching It? 945. Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense? 946. Does a Championship Game Always Need to Have a Winner (and a Loser)? 947. Should There Be Stricter Rules About How Coaches Treat Their Players? 948. Do Fans Put Too Much Pressure on Their Favorite Professional Athletes? 949. Does Better Sports Equipment Unfairly Improve Athletic Ability? 950. Should Technology in Sports Be Limited? 951. What Extreme Sports Interest You Most? 952. Are Some Extreme Sports Too Extreme? 953. Is Cheerleading a Sport? 954. Should Cheerleading Be an Olympic Sport? 955. Has Baseball Lost Its Cool? 956. Do Sports Teams Have a Responsibility to Hold Players to a Standard for Their Personal Conduct? 957. Should Athletes Who Dope Have to Forfeit Their Titles and Medals? 958. How Big a Deal Is It That an N.B.A. Player Came Out as Gay? 959. Should Women’s Basketball Lower the Rims? 960. Should College Football Players Get Paid? 961. Should Colleges Fund Wellness Programs Instead of Sports? 962. Where Should Colleges and Sports Teams Draw the Line in Selling Naming Rights? 963. Is ‘Redskins’ an Offensive Name for a Team? 964. Is It Offensive for Sports Teams to Use Native American Names and Mascots? 965. What Are Your Thoughts on Sports Betting? 966. Should Sports Betting Be Legal Everywhere? 967. How Young Is Too Young to Climb Mount Everest? 968. Should Girls and Boys Sports Teams Compete in the Same League? 969. Why Do You Play Sports? 970. What Kinds of Games and Puzzles Do You Like? 971. Do You Enjoy Playing Games or Solving Puzzles? 972. What Are Your Favorite Board Games? 973. What Are Your Favorite Games? 974. What Rules Would You Like to See Changed in Your Favorite Sports? 975. How Would You Change Your Favorite Sport? 976. What Game Would You Like to Redesign?

977. Where Do You Want to Travel? 978. What Is Your Fantasy Vacation? 979. What Would Your Fantasy Road Trip Be Like? 980. What Crazy Adventure Would You Want to Take? 981. What Local ‘Microadventures’ Would You Like to Go On? 982. How Would You Spend Your Ideal Family Vacation? 983. How Has Travel Affected You? 984. What Kind of Tourist Are You? 985. What Are the Best Souvenirs You’ve Ever Collected While Traveling? 986. What Famous Landmarks Have You Visited? 987. What’s the Coolest Thing You’ve Ever Seen in Nature? 988. What Do You Think You Would Learn From Traveling to All 50 States? 989. How Much Do You Know About the Rest of the World? 990. Would You Like to Live in Another Country? 991. Would You Want to Be a Space Tourist? 992. If You Could Time-Travel, Where Would You Go? 993. How Good Is Your Sense of Direction?

Holidays & Seasons

994. How Do You Celebrate Your Birthday? 995. Should the United States Celebrate Columbus Day? 996. A Short Fall Break, but What Should We Call It? 997. Will You Be Wearing a Halloween Costume This Year? 998. When Does a Halloween Costume Cross the Line? 999. Should Halloween Costumes Portray Only ‘Positive Images’? 1,000. Dressing Up Like Creepy Clowns: Freedom of Expression or Public Nuisance? 1,001. Do You Like Scary Movies and Books? 1,002. What Is the Scariest Story You Have Ever Heard? 1,003. Do You Believe in Ghosts? 1,004. Do You Believe in Astrology? 1,005. What Are Your Thanksgiving Traditions? 1,006. Will Your Family Members Disagree With Each Other About Politics This Thanksgiving? 1,007. What Has Been Your Most Memorable Thanksgiving? 1,008. What Do You Look Forward to Most – and Least – During the Holiday Season? 1,009. What Are Your Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Season? 1,010. How Will You Spend the Holiday Break? 1,011. What Does Santa Claus Mean to You? 1,012. Do You Look Forward to New Year’s Eve? 1,013. Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions? 1,014. How Do You Fight the Winter Blues? 1,015. What Would You Do on a Snow Day? 1,016. What Are Your Experiences With Severe Weather? 1,017. How Do You Feel About Valentine’s Day? 1,018. How Do You Celebrate Spring? 1,019. What Would Your Fantasy Spring Break Be Like? 1,020. What Are You Looking Forward to This Summer? 1,021. What Would Your Ideal Summer Camp Be Like? 1,022. What Are Your Favorite Summer Hangouts? 1,023. What’s Your Favorite Summer Food? 1,024. What Is Your Favorite Summer Movie? 1,025. What’s on Your Summer Reading List? 1,026. Do You Have a Summer Job? 1,027. What Did This Summer Teach You? 1,028. Do You Choose Summer Activities to Look Good on Applications? 1,029. What Are the Best Things You Did This Summer? 1,030. How Do You Prepare to Go Back to School? 1,031. How Can People Make the Most of Long Holiday Weekends? 1,032. What’s Your Sunday Routine? 1,033. What Work, Sport or Pastime Do You Like to Do at Night? 1,034. Would Life Be Better Without Time Zones?

Shopping & Cars

1,035. Do You Ever Hang Out at the Mall? 1,036. How Would You Make Over Your Mall? 1,037. Do You Shop at Locally Owned Businesses? 1,038. What’s Your Favorite Store? 1,039. To What Company Would You Write a Letter of Complaint or Admiration? 1,040. To What Business Would You Like to Give Advice? 1,041. Do Politics Ever Influence How or Where You Shop? 1,042. Do Companies Have a Responsibility to Contribute Positively to Society? 1,043. Should We Think Twice Before Buying Online? 1,044. Is Amazon Becoming Too Powerful? 1,045. How Much Do You Trust Online Reviews? 1,046. Should Companies Collect Information About You? 1,047. Could You Stop Shopping for an Entire Year? 1,048. What Are the Best Things You’ve Acquired Secondhand? 1,049. Did You Take Part in Any Post-Thanksgiving Shopping? 1,050. What Time Should Black Friday Sales Start? 1,051. How Important Is It to Have a Driver’s License? 1,052. Are You a Good Driver? 1,053. Do You Have a Dream Car? 1,054. Would You Like to Ride in a Car That Drives Itself? 1,055. Should Distracted Driving Be Punished Like Drinking and Driving? 1,056. Should Texting While Driving Be Illegal in Every State? 1,057. Is Drinking and Driving Still a Problem for Teenagers? 1,058. If Teenagers Are Such Bad Drivers, Should They Be Allowed to Drive? 1,059. Are Self-Driving Vehicles the Wave of the Future?

Science & Health

Science & Environment

1,060. How Green Are You? 1,061. How Do You Try to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment? 1,062. Do You Ever Feel Guilty About What, or How Much, You Throw Away? 1,063. What Could You Live Without? 1,064. Should Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags Be Banned? 1,065. What Are Your Thoughts About Wind Power? 1,066. Do We Crank Up the A.C. Too High? 1,067. How Concerned Are You About Climate Change? 1,068. How Should Nations and Individuals Address Climate Change? 1,069. If You Were President, What Would You Do About Climate Change? 1,070. Should Schools Teach About Climate Change? 1,071. How Do You Celebrate Earth Day? 1,072. Should Developers Be Allowed to Build in and Near the Grand Canyon? 1,073. Should Scientists Try to Help People Beat Old Age So We Can Live Longer Lives? 1,074. Should Extinct Animals Be Resurrected? If So, Which Ones? 1,075. How Do You Think Dinosaurs Went Extinct? 1,076. Given Unlimited Resources, What Scientific or Medical Problem Would You Investigate? 1,077. What Are the Five Greatest Inventions of All Time? 1,078. What Would You Invent to Make the World a Better Place? 1,079. When Is It O.K. to Replace Human Limbs With Technology? 1,080. Should Fertilized Eggs Be Given Legal ‘Personhood’? 1,081. Do You Think Life Exists — or Has Ever Existed — Somewhere Besides Earth? 1,082. Do You Believe in Intelligent Alien Life? 1,083. Will Humans Live on Mars Someday? 1,084. Would You Want to Be a Space Tourist? 1,085. What Would You Name a New Star or Planet?

Animals & Pets

1,086. How Do You Feel About Zoos? 1,087. Do Gorillas Belong in Zoos? 1,088. Is It Unethical for a Zoo to Kill a Healthy Giraffe? 1,089. Should Farm Animals Have More Legal Protections? 1,090. Is It Wrong to Focus on Animal Welfare When Humans Are Suffering? 1,091. Is It Ethical to Genetically Engineer Animals? 1,092. When Is Animal Testing Justified? 1,093. Should Certain Animals Have Some of the Same Legal Rights As People? 1,094. Should Circuses Be Animal Free? 1,095. Is This Exhibit Animal Cruelty or Art? 1,096. Should You Go to Jail for Kicking a Cat? 1,097. Should You Feel Guilty About Killing Spiders, Ants or Other Bugs? 1,098. Should Emotional Support Animals Be Allowed on College Campuses? 1,099. Are Emotional-Support Animals a Scam? 1,100. What Are the Animals in Your Life? 1,101. What’s Your Relationship Like With Your Pet? 1,102. How Well Do You Know Your Pet? 1,103. Should We Be Concerned With Where We Get Our Pets? 1,104. What Does a President’s Choice of Pet — or Choice Not to Have a Pet at All — Say About Him? 1,105. What Have You Learned From Animals? 1,106. What Are Your Thoughts on Cats? 1,107. Would You Want to Hang Out at a Cat Cafe? 1,108. Why Do We Love Watching Animal Videos So Much? 1,109. What Are Your Most Memorable Stories About Wildlife?

Exercise & Health

1,110. Do You Like to Exercise? 1,111. Do You Get Enough Exercise? 1,112. How Has Exercise Changed Your Health, Your Body or Your Life? 1,113. How Much Do You Think About Your Weight? 1,114. How Often Do You Engage in ‘Fat Talk’? 1,115. What Are Your Healthy Habits? 1,116. What Health Tips Have Worked for You? 1,117. What Rules Do You Have for Staying Healthy? 1,118. What Habits Do You Have, and Have You Ever Tried to Change Them? 1,119. Do You Have Any Bad Health Habits? 1,120. How Careful Are You in the Sun? 1,121. Do We Worry Too Much About Germs? 1,122. How Well Do You Sleep? 1,123. What Are Your Sleep Habits? 1,124. How Much of a Priority Do You Make Sleep? 1,125. Do You Get Enough Sleep? 1,126. Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered? 1,127. Should the Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco Be Raised From 18 to 21? 1,128. Should E-Cigarettes Be Banned for Teenagers? 1,129. Do You Vape? Is Smoking Still a Problem Among Teenagers? 1,130. Are Antismoking Ads Effective? 1,131. Should Marijuana Be Legal? 1,132. Should Students Be Required to Take Drug Tests? 1,133. Should Middle School Students Be Drug Tested? 1,134. How Common Is Drug Use in Your School? 1,135. If You Drink or Use Drugs, Do Your Parents Know? 1,136. Is Your School a ‘Party School’? 1,137. Have You Been To Parties That Have Gotten Out of Control? 1,138. Why Is Binge Drinking So Common Among Young People in the United States? 1,139. Should Universities Work to Curtail Student Drinking? 1,140. Would You Ever Go Through Hazing to Be Part of a Group?

Civics & History

Guns & the Justice System

1,141. What Are Some Answers to America’s Gun Violence? 1,142. What Should Lawmakers Do About Guns and Gun Violence? 1,143. Can High School Students Make a Real Impact on the Problem of Gun Violence in the United States? 1,144. What Do You Think of the #WalkUpNotOut Movement? 1,145. How Should We Prevent Future Mass Shootings? 1,146. Are We Becoming ‘Numb’ to School Shootings? 1,147. Would You Feel Safer With Armed Guards Patrolling Your School? 1,148. Should Teachers Be Armed With Guns? 1,149. Should Guns Be Permitted on College Campuses? 1,150. Would Arming College Students Help Prevent Sexual Assaults on Campus? 1,151. Where Do You Stand on Unconcealed Handguns? 1,152. What Is Your Relationship With Guns? 1,153. What Should Be the Purpose of Prison? 1,154. Should Prisons Offer Incarcerated People Education Opportunities? 1,155. Should Felons Be Allowed to Vote After They Have Served Their Time? 1,156. Should the United States Stop Using the Death Penalty? 1,157. What Do You Think of the Police Tactic of Stop-and-Frisk? 1,158. When Should Juvenile Offenders Receive Life Sentences? 1,159. Do Rich People Get Off Easier When They Break the Law? 1,160. Should All Police Officers Wear Body Cameras? 1,161. Should Prostitution Be Legal? 1,162. Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal in Every State? 1,163. Should Terminally Ill Patients Be Allowed to Die on Their Own Terms?

Government Policy

1,164. How Strong Is Your Faith in American Democracy? 1,165. Is America Headed in the Right Direction? 1,166. What Do American Values Mean to You? 1,167. Do You Think It Is Important for Teenagers to Participate in Political Activism? 1,168. How Would You Like to Help Our World? 1,169. What Cause Would Get You Into the Streets? 1,170. Have Your Ever Taken Part in a Protest? 1,171. What Would You Risk Your Life For? 1,172. When Have You Spoken Out About Something You Felt Had to Change? 1,173. Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16? 1,174. Should Voting Be Mandatory? 1,175. Does Voting for a Third-Party Candidate Mean Throwing Away Your Vote? 1,176. Do You Consider Yourself a Republican, Democrat or Independent? 1,177. If You Were Governor of Your State, How Would You Spend a Budget Surplus? 1,178. What Local Problems Do You Think Your Mayor Should Try to Solve? 1,179. Should the United States Care That It’s Not No. 1? 1,180. Do You Trust Your Government? 1,181. What Do You Think of President Trump’s Use of Twitter? 1,182. What Do You Think the Role of the First Lady — or First Spouse — Should Be Today? 1,183. What Is More Important: Our Privacy or National Security? 1,184. When Is the Use of Military Force Justified? 1,185. When Should Countries Negotiate With Their Traditional Enemies? 1,186. Should the U.S. Be Spying on Its Friends? 1,187. Should Countries Pay Ransoms to Free Hostages Held by Terrorists? 1,188. What Responsibility Do We Have to Take In Refugees From Global Humanitarian Crises? 1,189. Should Millions of Undocumented Immigrants Be Allowed to Live in the U.S. Without Fear of Getting Deported? 1,190. Should the Government Allow ‘Dreamers’ to Stay in the U.S. Without Fear of Being Deported? 1,191. Are Children of Illegal Immigrants Entitled to a Public Education? 1,192. What Do We Owe Our Veterans?

History & News

1,193. What Event in the Past Do You Wish You Could Have Witnessed? 1,194. What Are the Most Important Changes, in Your Life and in the World, in the Last Decade? 1,195. What National or International Events That You Lived Through Do You Remember Best? 1,196. What Famous Figure From the Past Fascinates You Most? 1,197. What Does Dr. King’s Legacy Mean to You? 1,198. Who Do You Think Has Been ‘Overlooked’ By History? 1,199. What Recent Events Will Most Likely Be Featured in History Museums Someday? 1,200. Why Should We Care About Events in Other Parts of the World? 1,201. What News Stories Are You Following? 1,202. How Do You Get Your News? 1,203. Are You Having More Conversations With Friends and Family About Politics? 1,204. What Is Your Reaction to the Recent Flood of Breaking Political News? 1,205. Do You Ever Get the ‘Bad News Blues’? 1,206. Are We Being Bad Citizens If We Don’t Keep Up With the News? 1,207. Is Your Online World Just a ‘Filter Bubble’ of People With the Same Opinions? 1,208. Do Your Friends on Social Media All Have the Same Political Opinions You Do? 1,209. How Do You Know if What You Read Online Is True? 1,210. Do You Think You Can Tell When Something Is ‘Fake News’? 1,211. Do You Believe in Online Conspiracy Theories? 1,212. What Are Your Experiences With Internet-Based Urban Legends? 1,213. Are Political Memes Dangerous to Democracy? 1,214. Should National Monuments Be Protected by the Government? 1,215. Should Confederate Statues Be Removed or Remain in Place? 1,216. What Supreme Court Cases, Now or in the Past, Interest You Most? 1,217. Should Free Speech Protections Include Self Expression That Discriminates? 1,218. Is It O.K. to Refuse to Serve Same-Sex Couples Based on Religious Beliefs? 1,219. What Will You Remember About President Obama and His Legacy?

Many of the questions above are still open to comment, though not all.

A few questions have been removed from this list since it was originally published.

Teachers, please let us know in the comments how you use this list, or any of our previous prompts lists, in your classes.

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19 College Essay Topics and Prompts

Not sure what to write for your college essay? We've got you covered with a number of topics and prompts to help shape your unique story.

[Featured image] A woman works on her college essay with a pen, notebook, and laptop computer.

As part of your college application materials, you'll likely be asked to submit a college essay. These tend to be between 250 and 650 words , and are a unique opportunity to showcase your personality. Admissions panels are typically looking for students who will positively represent the school as a whole. In the end, your goal is to show them that you and the college are a good match. 

When drafting your college essay, you may be expected to answer a prompt or come up with a topic on your own. In this article, we've rounded up several ideas to get you thinking—and writing.

19 college essay topics

Each school sets different requirements around the college essay, so it's important to review the expectations around every application you intend to submit. Some give you creative freedom, while others expect you to respond to a pre-developed prompt. Either way, a strong college essay conveys to the admissions team who you are, why you want to attend that particular school, and what matters to you. It's a way to personalize an application that often focuses on quantitative data, such as GPA and SAT scores.

If you're given the creative freedom to write about whatever you want, consider a college essay topic that allows you to be honest and original. We've compiled the following ideas to help you brainstorm:

What's an important issue you care about? How have you gotten involved?

Have you changed your mind about something in recent years? What was it and why?

What's a situation that caused you to grow?

Explain a time when you failed. What did you learn from that moment?

Share a surprising pastime or hobby and what interested you about it.

What extracurricular activity are you involved in that speaks to your personality?

Detail a meaningful volunteer experience.

Dive into a meaningful travel experience.

Who do you most admire and why?

If you have a unique background, share a bit about it. How did you get where you are?

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Was there ever a time when you had to stand up for something—or someone?

What's something you might change about the world to make it better?

What do you hope to accomplish by attending college?

Is there something you want to do after graduating college?

Have you ever made or created something? Talk about it.

Do you have a big idea that could potentially impact your community?

What is most valuable to you? Dive into your values and share an example.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

Pre-developed college essay prompts

Some colleges and universities will give you a series of prompts to choose from. These will vary from school to school, and can either be questions or statements. Here are a few examples of both.

Sample question prompts:

What excites your intellectual curiosity?

How has your upbringing shaped the person you are today?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Sample statement prompts:

Talk about an unusual circumstance in your life

Share how you hope to use your college education

Discuss a list of books you have read in the last year

Common App essay prompts

Common App is an online platform designed to simplify the college application process. Over 900 colleges use Common App, making it possible for you to fill out one application that's then submitted to multiple schools.

If you choose to complete the Common App, you'll have a choice of several distinctive prompts that change every academic year. Here's a sample of the 2022-2023 essay prompts [ 1 ]:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Stick to the prompt.

No matter what type of prompt you receive, it's your job to stick to it. The admissions team has a lot of essays to read, so you'll have a better chance of standing out if you develop a cohesive response that stays on topic.

Start by identifying the prompt's main topic, then spend some time brainstorming to find the idea that resonates most with you. For many people, it's the topic that makes them feel some sort of emotion or reminds them of an entertaining story. Understanding what you're being asked to write about should make staying on topic throughout the entire composition easier.

5 additional college essay tips

Once you decide what you'd like to write, follow the tips below to craft a standout essay. You can also find more advice about college essays in our article College Essay Format: Writing and Editing Tips .

1. Be considerate with humor.

Showing off your sense of humor lets your personality show through your words and can make reading the essay more entertaining. Try including a few sentences that you think will bring a smile to the reader's face, or use adjectives to insert some colorful comedy.

2. Offer insight.

Beyond recounting an event, experience, or memory, a great essay shows insight aka an ability to highlight meaningful takeaways. For example, if you choose to write about your unique hobby, try to discuss what you've learned from that pastime—or how you've grown as a result of it.

3. Add details

Great essays also invite the reader to connect with the story on an emotional level. With that in mind, it can help to recount a specific memory rather than answer a prompt without those colorful details. More than discussing something on a surface level—or vaguely—you want to provide enough particulars to keep your readers engaged. For example, if you choose to write about the best advice you ever received, set the scene and take the reader back to that moment.

4. Have an editor.

Your essay should ideally be error-free. Ask a trusted friend or family member to review your essay and suggest edits. An editor can help you catch grammatical errors or points out ways to better develop your response.

Avoid passing your paper along to too many people, though, so you don't lose your own voice amid all of the edits and suggestions. The admissions team wants to get to know you through your writing and not your sister or best friend who edited your paper.

5. Revise your essay.

Your first draft is just that: a draft. Give yourself plenty of time to read and revise your first pass and make sure you fully developed your response, stayed on topic, and shared your personality.

When revising your essay, you may find it helpful to read it aloud so you hear the words as you're saying them. Some people prefer to print a copy on paper and write notes by hand. Both options give your brain a new way to process the information to catch details you may miss if you keep everything in your head and on the computer.

Watch to find out why the essay many admission counselor's favorite part of the application:

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Article sources

Common App. " First-year essay prompts , https://www.commonapp.org/apply/essay-prompts." Accessed February 8, 2023.

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WEEKLY WRITING PROMPTS

Join (probably?) the world's largest writing contest. Flex those creative muscles with weekly writing prompts.

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Heavenly bodies, set your story in a world where astrology and the movements of celestial bodies deeply impact the lives of inhabitants..

LIVE – Fantasy

People have gathered to witness a once-in-a-lifetime natural phenomenon, but what happens next is not what they expected.

LIVE – Mystery

Imagine an origin myth that somebody might use to explain an eclipse, or some other celestial event.

Write a story in which a character navigates using the stars..

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Begin or end your story with a character taking a selfie.

Write about a character who sees a photo they shouldn’t have seen., write a story about a character who risks their life to take a photo., start your story with a character staring at a picture they don’t remember taking., center your story around a photo that goes viral., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.

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Write a story where time functions differently to our world.

Write a story about a character who wakes up in space., write a story from the point of view of a non-human character., write a story with a strong sense of place. how is the setting of your world the same as, but different to, our own, write a story imagining 'what if' one historic invention had never happened. how would our world be different now, start or end your story with a character who gets trapped inside a museum overnight., write about two characters who meet and/or fall in love in a museum., write about an art thief who is struggling to commit the perfect heist., write about someone who accidentally destroys a museum’s most valuable artifact., write about a gallery whose paintings come alive at night., win $250 in our short story competition 🏆.

We'll send you 5 prompts each week. Respond with your short story and you could win $250!

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RBE | Short Stories | 2023-02

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Creative Writing Prompts

When the idea to start a weekly newsletter with writing inspiration first came to us, we decided that we wanted to do more than provide people with topics to write about. We wanted to try and help authors form a regular writing habit and also give them a place to proudly display their work. So we started the weekly Creative Writing Prompts newsletter. Since then, Prompts has grown to a community of more than 450,000 authors, complete with its own literary magazine, Prompted .  

Here's how our contest works: every Friday, we send out a newsletter containing five creative writing prompts. Each week, the story ideas center around a different theme. Authors then have one week — until the following Friday — to submit a short story based on one of our prompts. A winner is picked each week to win $250 and is highlighted on our Reedsy Prompts page.

Interested in participating in our short story contest? Sign up here for more information! Or you can check out our full Terms of Use and our FAQ page .

Why we love creative writing prompts

If you've ever sat in front of a computer or notebook and felt the urge to start creating worlds, characters, and storylines — all the while finding yourself unable to do so — then you've met the author's age-old foe: writer's block. There's nothing more frustrating than finding the time but not the words to be creative. Enter our directory! If you're ready to kick writer's block to the curb and finally get started on your short story or novel, these unique story ideas might just be your ticket.

This list of 1800+ creative writing prompts has been created by the Reedsy team to help you develop a rock-solid writing routine. As all aspiring authors know, this is the #1 challenge — and solution! — for reaching your literary goals. Feel free to filter through different genres, which include...

Dramatic — If you want to make people laugh and cry within the same story, this might be your genre.

Funny — Whether satire or slapstick, this is an opportunity to write with your funny bone.

Romance — One of the most popular commercial genres out there. Check out these story ideas out if you love writing about love.

Fantasy — The beauty of this genre is that the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Dystopian – Explore the shadowy side of human nature and contemporary technology in dark speculative fiction.

Mystery — From whodunnits to cozy mysteries, it's time to bring out your inner detective.

Thriller and Suspense — There's nothing like a page-turner that elicits a gasp of surprise at the end.

High School — Encourage teens to let their imaginations run free.

Want to submit your own story ideas to help inspire fellow writers? Send them to us here.

After you find the perfect story idea

Finding inspiration is just one piece of the puzzle. Next, you need to refine your craft skills — and then display them to the world. We've worked hard to create resources that help you do just that! Check them out:

  • How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten-day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.
  • Best Literary Magazines of 2023 — a directory of 100+ reputable magazines that accept unsolicited submissions.
  • Writing Contests in 2023 — the finest contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors of short stories, poetry, essays, and more.

Beyond creative writing prompts: how to build a writing routine

While writing prompts are a great tactic to spark your creative sessions, a writer generally needs a couple more tools in their toolbelt when it comes to developing a rock-solid writing routine . To that end, here are a few more additional tips for incorporating your craft into your everyday life.

  • NNWT. Or, as book coach Kevin Johns calls it , “Non-Negotiable Writing Time.” This time should be scheduled into your routine, whether that’s once a day or once a week. Treat it as a serious commitment, and don’t schedule anything else during your NNWT unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Set word count goals. And make them realistic! Don’t start out with lofty goals you’re unlikely to achieve. Give some thought to how many words you think you can write a week, and start there. If you find you’re hitting your weekly or daily goals easily, keep upping the stakes as your craft time becomes more ingrained in your routine.
  • Talk to friends and family about the project you’re working on. Doing so means that those close to you are likely to check in about the status of your piece — which in turn keeps you more accountable.

Arm yourself against writer’s block. Writer’s block will inevitably come, no matter how much story ideas initially inspire you. So it’s best to be prepared with tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself on track before the block hits. You can find 20 solid tips here — including how to establish a relationship with your inner critic and apps that can help you defeat procrastination or lack of motivation.

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Explore more writing prompt ideas:

Adults Writing Prompts ⭢

Adventure Writing Prompts ⭢

Angst Writing Prompts ⭢

Character Writing Prompts ⭢

Christmas Writing Prompts ⭢

Dark Writing Prompts ⭢

Dialogue Writing Prompts ⭢

Dramatic Writing Prompts ⭢

Dystopian Writing Prompts ⭢

Fall Writing Prompts ⭢

Fantasy Writing Prompts ⭢

Fiction Writing Prompts ⭢

Fluff Writing Prompts ⭢

Funny Writing Prompts ⭢

Halloween Writing Prompts ⭢

High School Writing Prompts ⭢

Historical Fiction Writing Prompts ⭢

Holiday Writing Prompts ⭢

Horror Writing Prompts ⭢

Kids Writing Prompts ⭢

Middle School Writing Prompts ⭢

Mystery Writing Prompts ⭢

Narrative Writing Prompts ⭢

Nonfiction Writing Prompts ⭢

Novel Writing Prompts ⭢

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Romance Writing Prompts ⭢

Sad Writing Prompts ⭢

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Short Story Writing Prompts ⭢

Spring Writing Prompts ⭢

Summer Writing Prompts ⭢

Teens Writing Prompts ⭢

Thanksgiving Writing Prompts ⭢

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Valentine's Day Writing Prompts ⭢

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Winter Writing Prompts ⭢

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The Best Creative Writing Prompts and Practice Tips

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The demand for creative writing on college campuses is on the rise: A 2017 report from the Associated Press reveals that in the last 40 years, more than 700 schools have started creative writing bachelor's programs for students who want to learn how to write fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and work for the stage and screen. Though overall enrollment in English majors has declined in recent years, Inside Higher Ed notes that the creative writing specialization has remained stable in terms of student enrollment.

Despite the popularity of the major, the debate continues to rage: Can creative writing be taught? According to some, creative writing is an innate talent, and good writers instinctively know how to evoke feeling and meaning through writing. Others argue that students must be taught how other writers construct their work until they have internalized the skills and can produce their own original material. It's the latter of these two assumptions that captures the aim of creative writing classes at the college level.

Though studying creative writing doesn't guarantee you'll land a job after graduation, mastering the craft has a number of benefits. For example, studying different genres of writing and learning to work within their confines sharpens problem-solving skills and teaches students to move freely through different modes of communication. The creative energy required to compose original works can also allow for evocative self-expression, itself an empowering, cathartic process.

A person sitting at a table with a notebook stares out the window at a lake

Creative Writing Tips and Ideas: How to Learn Creative Writing

While many schools offer creative writing courses, majors, and even graduate-level degrees, it's important to remember that much of the work required to write successfully happens outside the classroom. Even with the best instructors, students who want to flourish in the world of creative writing must do a fair amount of self-teaching, too.

Read Books Like a Writer

When asked for advice on how to get started or how to improve one's writing, most writers will say the same thing: The easiest way to get better, whether you're self-taught or not, is to read. Pay attention to how a writer has put together their story. Study the poems or the fantasy novels you like and ask questions about the structure of each work as you consume it. Apply these methods to your own writing — how does the final product change when you make use of another writer's techniques?

Define Expectations and Outcomes

Having a sense of the piece you want to write can help tremendously in terms of finishing. In my own experience, the stories I've written aimlessly are the ones I abandon, and the ones for which I had clear ideas and intentions were easy to complete. It's important to understand what the essay you're writing is going to explore or why the screenplay you're writing will make a compelling movie. By defining your expected outcomes, it becomes easier to create a plot outline or even write toward a predetermined ending.

Revise With the "Big Picture" in Mind

Another common piece of advice is the mantra "writing is revising." This refers, of course, to low-level concerns like beautifying your word choices and making your writing more artful, but pay attention to the big picture, too. Often, it isn't until you finish the first draft that you develop a full sense of what you wrote, no matter how fastidiously you planned what the final product would look like. Reread your writing, keeping your previously decided goal in mind and asking yourself these questions: How successful is this piece in achieving that goal? What changes can you make that will enable the piece to succeed.

Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire You

1. retell a familiar tale.

Choose a myth or fairy tale with which you are familiar. Find a new way to tell it by choosing a different protagonist to reframe the narrative. Use the new perspective you've chosen to practice characterization by fleshing out the character's point of view. Observe how the details of the story change from this character's angle.

2. Write With Strict Conventions

Choose a poetic form that has very specific rules. A sonnet, for example, requires 14 lines of 10 syllables each that follow a particular rhyme scheme. Try writing a few poems using the constraints of the form you've chosen. The conventions will force you to approach language from new, exciting angles, which can lead you to create more innovative, interesting work.

3. Capture Dialogue

In screen- and playwriting, much of your writing will be dialogue-specific. Record a conversation between you and someone else, then convert that conversation into a script. Transcribing your words will give you a handle on how dialogue flows naturally, which can be helpful if you find the dialogue in your writing is stilted.

4. Engage the Senses

Recall a memory you experienced. As you write it down, focus on engaging with as many sensory details as you can. Refining your use of concrete descriptions of sight, sound, taste, feel, and smell can help your readers connect more viscerally to the experiences you're writing about — physical connection to the prose invites the reader to participate in the memory along with you.

5. Observe the Unobserved

One popular technique in poetry is making strange images out of familiar things. Study household objects and items that are very familiar to you, focusing on details that you might otherwise ignore. What sort of unfamiliar images might you create based on these observations? For example, you might notice the front-facing camera on your phone looks like a single eye — from there, a simile comparing your phone to a Cyclops is born.

6. Adapt Across Genres

Take a novel, story, or memory from your own experiences. Write it not in prose but in a stage or screenplay format. Pay attention to how information is conveyed differently without a narrator to observe. For example, dialogue becomes more important than descriptions of the environment when a stage or movie set provides the backdrop of your story.

7. Create a Character Sketch

Write a short story where a character's life is interrupted by something unexpected that forces them to make a challenging decision. Work on including information early in the piece that clues the reader in to the decision the character will make in the end. Writing several of these sketches will help you with your character development skills.

8. Explain a Family Tradition

One of the challenges of writing a memoir is learning how to think outside your own perspective. Which of your behaviors might be strange or unfamiliar to other people? Learning that others may not understand your peculiarities is an important step in writing creative nonfiction. Practice this by writing in detail about a family tradition you have, no matter how mundane — focus on explaining the reasoning behind each aspect, capturing exactly how it all unfolds.

9. Poetic Technique Internalization

Find a poem you really enjoy and study it closely to determine how it was constructed — what rhythmic choices do you see? How did the writer employ line breaks to make their poem more powerful? Where is the figurative language, and why did the writer use it where they did? Imitate this poem by writing about a different subject, but stick to the structure of the original poem as closely as you can. Using these devices in your writing can help you internalize the tools of other writers and learn how to better deploy them in your own poetry.

10. Plot Twist

Write a piece of flash fiction (a story under 1,000 words) in which a plot twist occurs at the beginning of each paragraph. Let each plot twist build naturally from the information that the story has thus far provided to the reader — the eighth paragraph cannot suddenly reveal the presence of dragons if their existence hasn't at least been hinted at, for example. Let this exercise teach you about plot: Why do you choose each plot twist, and how does it affect your decisions about the story moving forward?

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60+ College Essay Prompts From Actual 2023-2024 Applications

Ideas to inspire every college applicant.

Discuss a time when reflection or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.

Writing a college application essay can be a stressful task for a lot of students. The more practice they get in advance, the better! This roundup of college essay prompts gives applicants a chance to explore their thinking, polish their writing, and prepare to make the best possible impression on selection committees. Every one of these questions is taken from real college applications for the 2023-2024 season, so they’re meaningful and applicable to today’s high school seniors.

Common App 2023-2024 College Essay Prompts

2023-2024 coalition for college essay prompts, life experiences college essay prompts, personal college essay prompts, academics college essay prompts, creative college essay prompts.

Hundreds of colleges and universities use the Common App process . For many schools, this includes responding to one of several college essay topics, which can change each year. Here are the essay prompts for the current application cycle (check with your chosen school/s to see if an essay is required).

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.- college essay prompts

  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

More than 150 colleges and universities use the Coalition for College process . Here are their essay prompts for 2023-2024.

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

  • What interests or excites you? How does it shape who you are now or who you might become in the future?
  • Describe a time when you had a positive impact on others. What were the challenges? What were the rewards?
  • Has there been a time when an idea or belief of yours was questioned? How did you respond? What did you learn?
  • What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?

What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?

  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Answer these questions by sharing specific examples from your own experience.

  • Who is your favorite conversation partner? What do you discuss with that person?
  • Discuss a time when reflection or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.
  • Share an example of how you have used your own critical-thinking skills on a specific subject, project, idea, or interest.

Share an example of how you have used your own critical-thinking skills on a specific subject, project, idea, or interest.- college essay prompts

  • Describe a time when you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond?
  • What are the best words of advice you have received? Who shared them, and how have you applied them in your own life?
  • Elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you.
  • Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you.
  • Who do you agree with on the big, important things, or who do you have your most interesting disagreements with? What are you agreeing or disagreeing about?
  • Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.
  • When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?
  • Discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.
  • Reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

  • Describe a time you did not meet expectations and what impact the experience had on you.

These essay topics give schools a better sense of who you are, what you value, and the kind of student citizen you might be.

  • What drives you to create, and what do you hope to make or have you made?
  • Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or nonfiction) seems made for you? Why?
  • What would you want your future college roommate to know about you?
  • How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve, the people you want to work with, and the impact you hope your work can have?

How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve, the people you want to work with, and the impact you hope your work can have?- college essay prompts

  • Describe any meaningful travel experiences you’ve had.
  • What would you want to be different in your own country or community to further principles of equality, equity, or social justice?
  • What strength or quality do you have that most people might not see or recognize?
  • If you could live your life fighting for one cause, what would it be and why?
  • What gives meaning to your life?
  • If you wrote a letter to yourself to be opened in 20 years, what would it say?
  • If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why?

If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why?

  • Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.
  • What is the greatest compliment you have ever been given? Why was it meaningful to you?
  • Explain how a text you’ve read—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or literature of any kind—has helped you to understand the world’s complexity.

Topics like these show your academic interests and demonstrate your commitment to learning and discovery.

  • What does it mean to you to be educated?
  • What is your motivation for pursuing higher education?
  • Describe your reasons for wanting to attend the specific school you’re applying to. Who or what factored into your decision?
  • Academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited, and why do they interest you?

Academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited, and why do they interest you?- college essay prompts

  • What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good?
  • If you decide to take a “gap year” between high school and college, what would you do during that time?
  • Many schools place a high value on diverse student populations. How can you contribute to and support a diverse and inclusive student population at your chosen school?
  • Imagine you were just awarded a research grant for a project of your choice. What are you researching and why?
  • What do you love about the subject(s) you selected as potential major(s)? If undecided, share more about one of your academic passions.

What do you love about the subject(s) you selected as potential major(s)? If undecided, share more about one of your academic passions.

  • Describe a time when you’ve felt empowered or represented by an educator.
  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Use these college essay topics to show off your creativity and innovative thinking.

  • You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.

You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.

  • Pick one person—a historical figure, fictitious character, or modern individual—to converse with for an hour, and explain your choice.
  • If you could witness a historic event (past, present, or future) firsthand, what would it be and why?
  • If you could have a theme song, what would it be and why?
  • Discuss a book that you would call a “great book.” What makes the book great in your view?
  • If you could give any historical figure any piece of technology, who and what would it be, and why do you think they’d work so well together?
  • If I could travel anywhere, I would go to …
  • My favorite thing about last Tuesday was …
  • Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge.
  • If you had 10 minutes and the attention of a million people, what would your TED Talk be about?
  • What are your three favorite words in the English language? Explain what they mean to you.
  • Imagine that you could have one superpower. What would it be and how would you use it? What would be your kryptonite?

Imagine that you could have one superpower. What would it be and how would you use it? What would be your kryptonite?- college essay prompts

  • Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined) best describes you?
  • If you could create a college course that all students would take, what would it be about and why?
  • What website is the internet missing?

How do you help your students prepare their college application essays? Come share your ideas and ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, check out  the ultimate guide to college scholarships.

Looking for writing ideas for your college application? These college essay prompts offer inspirational topics that let every student shine.

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CollegeVine's essay prompt database

Find your college’s application essay prompts for 2023-24

Latest essay prompts for the top 100 schools.

At CollegeVine, our goal is to make the college application process a little less stressful, so we’ve compiled the latest essay prompts for the top 100 schools in one easy, searchable database.

Also, every year we create free guides on “ How to Write X School’s Essays ” for the top 100 schools. In these guides, we give you tips and tricks on how to approach each prompt. As such, our prompt database also contains a link to each school's Essay Breakdown.

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., popular college application essay topics (and how to answer them).

Get help writing your college application essays. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.

The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores (and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool).

brainstorming college application essay topics

2023–24 Common App Essays

Nearly 700 colleges accept the The Common Application , which makes it easy to apply to multiple schools with just one form. If you are using the Common App to apply for college admissions, you will have 250–650 words to respond to ONE of the following prompts:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

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Read More: Get Expert Essay Advice From Former Admissions Officers!

Tackling the Common App Essay Prompts

Prompt #1: share your story..

Answer this prompt by reflecting on a hobby, facet of your personality, or experience that is genuinely meaningful and unique to you. Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in. Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Avoid a rehash of the accomplishments on your high school résumé and choose something that the admissions committee will not discover when reading the rest of your application.

Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles.

You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled. But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance! That’s why the last piece of this prompt is essential. The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result.

Perfect your college essay video

Prompt #3: Challenging a belief.

Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific!—experience to recount (and reflect on). A vague essay about a hot button issue doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything useful about YOU.

Prompt #4: Reflecting on gratitude.

Colleges are looking for students with unique experiences that can enhance their future campus community, and this is your chance to share that by recognizing what someone else has done for you. Even though this prompt requires you to reflect on the action of another person, make sure that the focus remains on how the act of kindness impacted you and the way you live your life. This essay should make you and the reader smile.

Prompt #5: Personal growth.

Just like Prompt #2, the accomplishment or event you write about can be anything from a major milestone to a smaller "aha" moment. Describe the event or accomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed. Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth. 

Prompt #6: What captivates you?

This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. (So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you). Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them. The "what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more” bit isn't an afterthought—it's a key piece of the prompt. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well.

Read More: QUIZ: Test Your College Knowledge!

Prompt #7: Topic of your choice.

This question might be for you if you have a dynamo personal essay from English class to share or were really inspired by a question from another college’s application. You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: 1.) Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores and 2.) Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. There isn’t a prompt to guide you, so you must ask yourself the questions that will get at the heart of the story you want to tell.

More College Essay Topics

Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:

Describe a person you admire.

Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. The admissions committee doesn't need to be convinced they are influential people. Focus on yourself: Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you .

Why do you want to attend this school?

Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Avoid generalities like "to get a good liberal arts education” or “to develop career skills," and use details that show your interests: "I'm an aspiring doctor and your science department has a terrific reputation." Colleges are more likely to admit students who can articulate specific reasons why the school is a good fit for them beyond its reputation or ranking on any list. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you.

Read More: 5 Ways College Application Essays and High School Essays Are Different

What is a book you love?

Your answer should not be a book report. Don't just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you. What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you?

Again, be honest in answering this question—don't choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter. Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn't inspire you.

What is an extracurricular activity that has been meaningful to you?

Avoid slipping into clichés or generalities. Take this opportunity to really examine an experience that taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow. Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable. As with all essay questions, the most important thing is to tell a great story: how you discovered this activity, what drew you to it, and what it's shown you about yourself.

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Unpacking Academic Writing Prompts

Written by Emily Smith

When you’ve been tasked with a college-level writing assignment, reading the prompt probably seems like the easy part, right? Yet assignment prompts are often information dense, meaning they have a lot of important information that can help you understand the assignment’s purpose and your instructor’s expectations, but only if you read them carefully and methodically. Because prompts are short, many students tend to skim through them, leading writers to overlook or misinterpret key pieces of information, which in turn can impact the quality of their work. 

The good news is that you can easily avoid these issues if you take the time to read your assignment prompts closely and strategically , which is where we come in! Below you’ll find the information you need to understand, analyze, and reflect upon your assignment prompts so that you can use them as a tool to plan (and complete!) your papers with ease.

Table of Contents:

Anatomy of an assignment prompt, understanding a prompt, planning your assignment, final takeaways.

Before we discuss how you should read a prompt, let’s talk about what content you can expect to find in one. Although writing prompts can differ, depending upon your discipline or field and your instructor, they often include some basic information, particularly in lower-level college classes. Core elements of an academic writing prompt typically include:  

An introductory paragraph:

Many writing assignments will begin with a short paragraph that includes an overview of the topic at hand or the context for the assignment. This content usually serves to orient you to the assignment’s topic by connecting it to concepts, texts, or activities from your class. You might also see a discussion of the purpose or learning goals for the paper, which will give you a sense of what knowledge or skills you may gain by completing the assignment. Typically, this section will end with a broad description of your assignment that identifies the core task you are being asked to complete.

A list of requirements: 

After the introductory paragraph, you’ll often see that your instructor has provided a more thorough breakdown of their requirements or expectations, which might take the form of a bulleted list. This section might include a list of subtopics or questions you are expected to address through your paper, or it may provide questions to help you generate ideas. If you encounter such a list of questions, be sure to clarify whether they are required elements of the assignment. 

Technical information: 

Towards the end of the prompt, you’ll usually find detailed information about your instructor’s expectations for your paper’s technical elements, including but not limited to writing style, tone, length, citation style, and other formatting considerations. 

Again, you will likely encounter assignment prompts that differ from the structure outlined above, particularly as you progress to more advanced classes where writing assignments tend to be more open-ended. However, being aware of these core elements can help you learn the basic components of academic writing assignments so that you will know what to look for and what questions to ask to aid your understanding. 

Once you have your assignment prompt in hand, it’s time to get to work. Start by reading through your prompt to get a general sense of what you’re being asked to do. Read slowly and actively (i.e. don’t speed or skim through it!). Then reread the prompt , highlighting key terms and noting anything that doesn’t make sense or warrants clarification. Keep in mind that you will probably reread the prompt multiple times over the course of your writing process. As you read, pay special attention to any verbs used, as those terms will indicate the kind of writing you are being asked to do. Common verbs used in writing assignments include: 

writing prompts college

Analyze: figure out and explain what something means, why something matters, or how something works or functions. Notice the use of “why” and “how” here, which encourage you to push beyond surface-level information to engage in more critical thought. Check out this guide on literary analysis, a common form of analytical writing, for more information! 

Argue: adopt a position and support it using evidence. Many academic writing assignments require some form of argumentation. For detailed guidance, head to this guide on creating a strong argument.

Compare: explain the similarities between two or more things. 

Contrast: illustrate the differences between two or more things. You’ll often see “compare” and “contrast” appear together in assignment prompts. 

Critique: evaluate an argument, theory, or work, providing a detailed assessment to support your reasoning. 

Define: explain the meaning of a word, concept, etc. 

Describe: provide specific details or characteristics of a given subject.

Research: collect information (often from scholarly sources) about your topic, which you will then utilize in your paper, often as support for an argument you are making about your topic. If you are new to the idea of research, check out this guide on how to do research effectively. 

Summarize: briefly explain the most important idea(s) from a given text or about a given subject. For more, check out this guide on writing from sources. 

When you have a general sense of your assignment, read and reflect on the following questions to ensure you clearly understand it: 

Generally, what are you being asked to do?  

Try to summarize your task in a sentence or so. You might also consider whether your assignment falls into a particular category or genre (e.g., researched argument, literary analysis, compare/contrast essay, lab report, etc.), since that label can give you valuable insight into a paper’s structure and content. If you’re unsure of your assignment’s central task, pause your work and check in with your instructor. See this guide on asking for help and utilizing your sources for information about how to best communicate with faculty. 

What is the purpose of the assignment? Why are you writing this paper? What skills or knowledge will you be using to complete it?  

Consider why your instructor gave you this task. Assignments are intended to teach you something new by providing an opportunity for you to practice a skill and/or gain new knowledge. Identifying what those skills are will (a) give you an idea of what to focus on while completing an assignment and (b) give you a sense of purpose while doing so. You might also consider the purpose of what you are writing: are you trying to inform? Persuade? Entertain? Clarifying this purpose can help you make strategic decisions about your paper’s content, style, and tone. 

Who is your audience?  

Obviously, your assignment will ultimately be graded by your instructor, but they aren’t necessarily your audience. Sometimes an assignment will specify a particular audience, but generally, academic writing at the undergraduate level is aimed at an informed reader , meaning a person who can comprehend your paper’s topic and follow its logic and structure, but may not know the specifics of your paper’s subject matter. Understanding who your intended audience is will help you make thoughtful decisions about how much and what kind of information to include in your paper, and intentional choices about your paper’s style and tone.

How should you complete the assignment?

Typically, an assignment prompt will identify what you need to do and how you are expected to do it. Is your instructor asking you to follow a particular process to collect information or to write your paper? Do they expect you to utilize a certain organizational pattern or address particular questions or subtopics over the course of your paper? Make note of any guidelines regarding required steps or processes you must follow, as well as any requirements related to content or structure. 

What resources or evidence might you need?  

Most academic writing will require that you utilize outside sources to add depth, specificity, and credibility to your writing. Identify what kind(s) of evidence you are expected to use and begin to reflect on how you can acquire that information. For example, if your assignment asks that you interview an expert in your field, you’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you have time to schedule and conduct that interview before integrating it into your draft. Similarly, if your instructor asks you to utilize scholarly sources, you’ll need to allocate enough time to research your topic and read a variety of sources to find those that are most relevant. For more information about using sources, check out our guide on source evaluation. 

What are the “rules” of the assignment?  

Aside from considerations about content, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of your instructor’s basic expectations for the paper. How long should it be? What citation style should you use? WHEN IS IT DUE? Are there other formatting considerations you should be aware of? Make note of these guidelines, as well as any subjective or stylistic requirements your instructor includes (e.g., “Do not use first-person pronouns.”). 

If you can confidently answer all of these questions, then you probably have a solid understanding of your assignment. However, if you have any confusion or uncertainty about any aspect of your assignment, stop what you are doing and check in with your instructor. It is much better to clarify the nature of an assignment early in your writing process than to course-correct after you have started working. Plus, your questions can help your instructor revise and clarify their prompt for future students. 

Aside from providing a basic overview of an assignment, a prompt can also be a valuable tool to help you strategically plan it. Here are a few ways an assignment prompt can be used as a roadmap: 

1. Establish a timeline for your writing

Once you have a clear understanding of your assignment, you can begin planning how and when you will complete it. After looking at your paper’s final deadline, you can work backwards to determine when you should complete various stages of your writing process. Some considerations you might reflect on when determining how much time to allocate for your paper include:

Do you have a topic in mind for your paper? If not, be sure to start your paper extra early so that you can reserve plenty of time for brainstorming, either independently, with a classmate, or perhaps with your instructor during their office hours. (Important side note: take advantage of office hours!)

What resources will you need to complete your assignment? Finding relevant sources, particularly scholarly sources, can be a bit of a process, so be sure to reserve plenty of time for your research, as you’ll need time to locate and read a variety of sources to find those that are the right fit for your paper. Check out this guide for more information on evaluating scholarly sources. 

Do you have any mini-deadlines? Sometimes instructors will require you to turn in a rough draft so that they can provide you with feedback. If that is the case, be sure to plan your writing around that earlier deadline so that you can get a jumpstart on your work and utilize their feedback to strengthen your draft. Even if you aren’t assigned a mini-deadline by an instructor, you can give yourself one to motivate you to start writing so that you have time to seek feedback from an instructor, classmate, or writing center tutor well before your final deadline. 

2. Reflect on your assignment’s conventions

It is virtually inevitable that you’ll be tasked with writing a paper in a new discipline or from an unfamiliar genre while in college. Academic fields can have varying conventions when it comes to writing style and format, while different writing genres can have preset required structures. While it might feel a little daunting to tackle a new type of assignment or work in an unfamiliar discipline, taking the time to do a bit of research on an assignment’s writing conventions can save you time in the long run by providing you with valuable information about the dos and don’ts for your paper. For example, if you’re tasked with writing a lab report, your research on that assignment type would reveal that the structure, format, and style of a lab report are quite fixed, which should make it much easier for you to produce a strong draft.

Your instructor may provide you with information about the conventions for a given type or field of writing. However, if they do not, you might seek out samples from academic journals within your field to gauge how writers in a particular discipline structure their ideas. A discipline’s style guide can also provide valuable insight, as it will discuss issues of style and format, in addition to citation mechanics. For example, a student writing a psychology paper might read through The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (or the APA Style website) for guidance on writing conventions within that discipline. 

3. Analyze your instructor’s rubric

A rubric is essentially a guide that helps you understand how you will be graded for an assignment by defining performance levels (i.e., what quality of work will receive full or partial credit) and assigning weight to different elements of an assignment. For example, a rubric for an academic writing assignment might assign 50% of a paper’s grade to its argumentation and only 10% to grammar and mechanics. 

Although you will not always have access to a rubric, it is a useful tool when available. By closely reading a rubric, you can clarify what qualities or attributes will be rated favorably in a draft. You can also utilize your rubric to gauge which elements of an assignment are most important. Using the previous example, where argumentation is worth 50% of a paper’s grade, you could deduce that your instructor really wants you to focus your energies on that aspect of your paper by practicing those skills. Understanding how your instructor is weighing different aspects of an assignment can help you determine where you should focus your attention over the course of your writing process so that you can work efficiently. 

By now, you’ve probably realized that assignment prompts are more than just a set of instructions—they also provide valuable insight into your instructor’s expectations, which can help you assemble a strategic plan to successfully complete an assignment. Although the exact content and structure of assignment prompts can vary, there are a few basic habits that will always serve you well:

Read prompts early and often. Aside from reading a prompt several times when you first receive it, you should also reread your prompt over the course of your writing process. Doing so can ensure you stay on topic as your ideas evolve. You can also return to your prompt as you revise, edit, and proofread your draft(s) to ensure you have fulfilled all of the assignment’s requirements. 

Make sure you have access to all of an assignment’s guidelines. In addition to an assignment prompt, instructors will sometimes provide additional materials, such as rubrics, assignment samples, and/or supplemental materials (e.g., citation models, guides to analyzing texts, etc.) to assist you. Be sure to review any materials you are given and to keep them in a central location to ensure you have the resources you need to complete your assignment effectively. 

When in doubt, check in with your instructor. Assignment prompts are pieces of writing unto themselves, which means they can be interpreted subjectively. Always seek clarity if you have questions about the nature of an assignment. Doing so will not only ensure that you have the correct information, but will also demonstrate that you care about an assignment. Your instructors want you to be successful, so don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance as questions arise! 

Now, go forth and start writing!

Special thanks to Emily Smith for writing this post and contributing to other College Writing Center resources

writing prompts college

Emily Smith (she/her) has worked with hundreds of students to become more thoughtful, intentional, and confident writers in her work as a composition instructor, college essay specialist, and, most recently, as a writing center director. Leveraging her background in writing center work, Emily loves to collaborate with students to find ease in the writing process. When not coaching students, she can likely be found baking in pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie, watching TCM, and spoiling her cat.

Top Values: Empathy | Inclusion | Balance

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 105 creative writing prompts to try out.

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The most common advice out there for being a writer is, "if you want to write, write." While this is true (and good advice), it's not always that easy, particularly if you're not writing regularly.

Whether you're looking for help getting started on your next project, or just want to spend 20 minutes being creative, writing prompts are great ways to rev up your imagination. Read on for our list of over 100 creative writing prompts!

feature image credit: r. nial bradshaw /Flickr

10 Short Writing Prompts

If you're looking for a quick boost to get yourself going, these 10 short writing prompts will do the trick.

#1 : Write a scene starting with a regular family ritual that goes awry.

#2 : Describe exactly what you see/smell/hear/etc, right now. Include objects, people, and anything else in your immediate environment.

#3 : Suggest eight possible ways to get a ping pong ball out of a vertical pipe.

#4 : A shoe falls out of the sky. Justify why.

#5 : If your brain were a tangible, physical place, what would it be like?

#6 : Begin your writing with the phrase, "The stage was set."

#7 : You have been asked to write a history of "The Summer of [this past year]." Your publisher wants a table of contents. What events will you submit?

#8 : Write a sympathetic story from the point of view of the "bad guy." (Think fractured fairy tales like Wicked or The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! , although the story doesn't have to be a fairy tale.)

#9 : Look at everyday objects in a new way and write about the stories one of these objects contains.

#10 : One person meets a stranger on a mode of transportation. Write the story that ensues.

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11 Writing Prompts for Kids

Any of these prompts can be used by writers of any age, but we chose the following 11 prompts as ones that would be particularly fun for kids to write about. (Most of them I used myself as a young writer, so I can vouch for their working!)

#1 : Include something falling in your writing.

#2 : Write a short poem (or story) with the title, "We don't know when it will be fixed."

#3 : Write from the perspective of someone of a different gender than you.

#4 : Write a dumb internet quiz.

#5 : Finish this thought: "A perfect day in my imagination begins like this:"

#6 : Write a character's inner monologue (what they are thinking as they go about their day).

#7 : Think of a character. Write a paragraph each about:

  • An important childhood experience that character had.
  • The character's living situation.
  • Two hobbies or things the character likes to do.
  • The room where the character sleeps.
  • An ambition of the character.
  • Two physical characteristics of the character.
  • What happens when a second person and this character meet.
  • Two important defining personal traits of this character.

#8 : Start a story with a quote from a song.

#9 : Begin a story with, "It was the summer of ______ when ______"

#10 : Pretend everyday objects have no names. Think about what you would name them based on what they do, what you can use them for, and what they look like.

#11 : Start a story with the phrases "My grandparents are/were," "My parents are/were," or "My mother/father/parent is/was."

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15 Cool Writing Prompts

#1 : List five issues that you're passionate about. Write about them from the opposite point of view (or from the perspective of a character with the opposite point of view).

#2 : Walk around and write down a phrase you hear (or read). Make a story out of it.

#3 : Write using no adjectives or adverbs.

#4 : Write a character's inner dialogue between different aspects of a character's self (rather than an inner monologue).

#5 : Write a true story from your past that involves light or darkness in some way.

#6 : "Saying goodbye awakens us to the true nature of things." Write something in which someone has to say goodbye and has a realization.

#7 : Begin by writing the end of the story.

#8 : Write a recipe for an intangible thing.

#9 : Write a horror story about an ordinary situation (e.g., buying groceries, going to the bank, listening to music).

#10 : Write a story from within a bubble.

#11 : Write down 2-3 short character descriptions and then write the characters in conversation with one another.

#12 : Write a story in second person.

#13 : Write a story that keeps contradicting itself.

#14 : Write about a character with at least three big problems.

#15 : Write something that takes place on a Friday, the 13th (of any month).

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15 Funny Writing Prompts

#1 : Write a story which starts with someone eating a pickle and potato sandwich.

#2 : Write a short script where the plot has to do with evil dolls trying to take over something.

#3 : Write about writers' block.

#4 : List five election issues that would be ridiculous to includes as part of your election platform (e.g. outlawing mechanical pencils and clicky pens, mandating every person over the age of 30 must own an emergency last rites kit). Choose one of the ridiculous issues and write a speech in favor of it.

#5 : Write a children's story that is insanely inappropriate but can't use graphic language, curses, or violence.

#6 : List five careers. Write about someone with one of those careers who wants to quit it.

#7 : Write down a list of murder methods. Choose one at random from the list to use in a story.

#8 : Write a romance story in which the hero must have a last name corresponding with a physical characteristic (e.g. Jacques Hairyback or Flora Dimple).

#9 : Come up with 10 different ways to:

  • order a pizza
  • congratulate someone on a job well done
  • return to the store something that's broken

#10 : Search for "random Renaissance painting" (or any other inspirational image search text you can think of) on any online internet image search engine. Picking one image, write half a page each of:

  • Statements about this image (e.g. "I meant bring me the BREAD of John the Baptist").
  • Questions about this image (e.g. "How many of those cherubs look like their necks are broken?").
  • Explanations of this image (e.g. "The painter ran out of blue paint halfway through and had to improvise for the color of the sky").
  • Commands said by people in this image or about this image (e.g. "Stop telling me to smile!" or "Bring me some gasoline!").

#11 : Write starting with a word that sounds like "chute" (e.g. "chute," "shoot," "shooed").

#12 : Write about a character named X "The [article of clothing]" Y (e.g. Julie "The Yellow Darted Skirt" Whyte) or simply referred to by their clothing (e.g. "the man in the brown suit" or "the woman in black").

#13 : Write down a paragraph each describing two wildly different settings. Write a story involving both settings.

#14 : Think of a fictional holiday based around some natural event (e.g. the Earth being at its farthest point from the sun, in memory of a volcanic eruption, that time a cloud looked like a rabbit riding a bicycle). Write about how this holiday is celebrated.

#15 : Write a "Just-So" type story about a fictional creature (e.g. "how the dragon got its firebreath" or "how the mudkip got its cheek gills").

body_justsostory

54 Other Writing Prompt Ideas

#1 : Borrow a character from some other form of media (or create your own). Write from that character's perspective.

#2 : Write for and against a non-consequential controversy (e.g., salt vs. pepper, Mac vs. PC, best kind of door).

#3 : Choose an ancestor or a person from the past to write about or to.

#4 : Write a pirate story with a twist.

#5 : Have a character talk about another character and their feelings about that other character.

#6 : Pick a season and think about an event in your life that occurred in that season. Write a creative nonfiction piece about that event and that season.

#7 : Think of something very complicated and long. Write a page about it using short sentences.

#8 : Write a story as a dream.

#9 : Describe around a food without ever directly naming it.

#10 : Write a monologue (one character, talking to the audience/reader) (*not* an inner monologue).

#11 : Begin a story with the phrase, "It only took five seconds to..."

#12 : List five strong emotions. Choosing one, write about a character experiencing that emotion, but only use the character's actions to convey how they are feeling (no outright statements).

#13 : Write a chapter of the memoir of your life.

#14 : Look through the (physical) things you're currently carrying with you or wearing. Write about the memories or emotions tied with each of them.

#15 : Go be in nature. Write drawing your story from your surroundings (both physical, social, and mental/emotional).

body_writinginnature

#16 : Write from the perspective of a bubble (or bubble-like creature).

#17 : A person is jogging along an asphalt road. Write a story.

#18 : Title your story (or poem, or play, etc) "Anti-_____". Fill in the blank and write the story.

#19 : Write something that must include an animal, a mineral, and a vegetable.

#20 : Begin your writing with the phrase, "6 weeks later..."

#21 : List 5-10 office jobs. Pick one of them and describe a person working in that job as if you were a commentator on an Olympic sporting event.

#22 : Practice your poetic imagery: overwrite a description of a character's breakfast routine.

#23 : Write about a character (or group of characters) trying to convince another character to try something they're scared of.

#24 : Keep an eye out in your environment for examples of greengrocer's apostrophes and rogue quotation marks. Pick an example and write about what the misplaced punctuation implies (e.g., we have the "best" meat or we have the best "meat" ).

#25 : Fill in the blank with the first word that comes to mind: "_______ Riot!" Write a newspaper-style article describing the events that that took place.

#26 : Write from the point of view of your most-loved possession. What does it think of you?

#27 : Think of five common sayings (e.g., "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"). Write a horror story whose plot is one of those common sayings.

#28 : Write a scene in which two characters are finally hashing out a long-standing misunderstanding or disagreement.

#29 : You start receiving text messages from an unknown number. Tell the story of what happens next.

#30 : Write one character bragging to another about the story behind their new tattoo.

#31 : Superheroes save the world...but they also leave a lot of destruction in their wake. Write about a normal person in a superhero's world.

#32 : Sometimes, family is who we are related to; sometimes, family is a group of people we gather around ourselves. Write a story about (some of) a character's found family and relatives meeting for the first time.

#33 : Write a story that begins in the middle of the plot's action ( en media res ).

#34 : Everyone says you can never have too much of a good thing. Write a story where that isn't true.

#35 : What do ghosts do when they're not creating mischief? Write about the secret lives of ghosts.

body_secretlivesofghosts

#36 : Every year, you dread the last week of April. Write a story about why.

#37 : Write a story about what it would be like to have an animal sidekick in real life.

#38 : Heists don't just have to be black-clad thieves stealing into vaults to steal rare art or money. Write about a group of people (adults or children) who commit a heist for something of seemingly little monetary value.

#39 : "Life is like a chooseable-path adventure, except you don't get to see what would have happened if you chose differently." Think of a choice you've made and write about a world where you made a different choice.

#40 : Write a story about a secret room.

#41 : You find a message in a bottle with very specific directions. Write a story about the adventure you embark upon.

#42 : "You'll always be okay as long as you know where your _______ is." Fill in the blank and write a story (either fictional or from your life) illustrating this statement.

#43 : Forcing people into prolonged proximity can change and deepen relationships. Write about characters on a road trip together.

#44 : In music, sonata form includes three main parts: exposition, development, and recapitulation. Write a short story that follows this format.

#45 : Begin writing with a character saying, "I'm afraid this simply can't wait."

#46 : Write a story with a happy ending (either happily-ever-after or happy-for-now).

#47 : Write about a character before and after a tragedy in that character's life.

#48 : Choose an object or concept you encounter in everyday life (e.g. tables, the feeling of hot or cold, oxygen) and write an infomercial about it.

#49 : "Life is a series of quests, whether important or mundane." Write about a quest you've gone on (or would like to go on, or will have to go on).

#50 : List 10 different ways to learn. Choose one (or more) and write a story where a character learns something using that one (or more) method.

#51 : You've been called to the principal's office for bad behavior. You know what you did. Explain and justify yourself.

#52 : A character discovers their sibling owns a cursed object. Write about what happens next.

#53 : Write a character description by writing a list of items that would be on a scavenger hunt about them.

#54 : The slogan for a product or service you're advertising is, "Kid-tested, _____." Fill in the blank and write the copy for a radio or podcast advertisement for your product.

body_kidtestedwritingprompt

How to Use Creative Writing Prompts

There's no wrong way to use a creative writing prompt (unless it's to harass and hurt someone)—the point of them is to get you writing and your imagination flowing.

To help you get the most out of these writing prompts, however, we've come up with the six tips below. Try them out!

#1: DON'T Limit Yourself to Prose

Unless you're writing for a particular assignment, there's no reason everything you write in response to a writing prompt has to be prose fiction . Instead of writing your response to a prompt as a story, try writing a poem, nonfiction essay, play, screenplay, or some other format entirely.

#2: DON'T Edit as You Write

The purposes of writing prompts is to get you writing, typos and weird grammar and all. Editing comes later, once you've finished writing and have some space from it to come back to what you wrote.

It's OK to fix things that will make it difficult to read what you've written (e.g., a weird autocorrect that changes the meaning of a sentence), but don't worry too much about typos or perfect grammar when you're writing; those are easy enough to fix in edits . You also can always insert asterisks or a short note as you're writing to remind yourself to go back to fix something (for instance, if as you're writing it seems like you want to move around the order of your paragraphs or insert something earlier).

#3: DO Interpret the Prompt Broadly

The point of using a writing prompt is not to write something that best exemplifies the prompt, but something that sparks your own creativity. Again, unless you're writing in response to an assignment with specific directions, feel free to interpret writing prompts as broadly or as narrowly as you want.

For instance, if your prompt is to write a story that begins with "The stage was set," you could write about anything from someone preparing to put a plan into motion to a literal theatre stage constructed out of pieces of old sets (or something else entirely).

If you're using a writing prompt, it doesn't have to be the first sentence of your story or poem, either; you can also use the prompt as a goal to work towards in your writing.

#4: DO Try Switching Up Your Writing Methods

If it's a possibility for you, see if you write differently in different media. Do you write the same kind of stories by hand as you would typing at a computer? What about if you dictate a story and then transcribe it? Or text it to a friend? Varying the method you use to write can affect the stories you're able to tell.

For example, you may find that it's easier for you to tell stories about your life to a voice recorder than to try to write out a personal essay. Or maybe you have trouble writing poetry, but can easily text yourself or a friend a poem. You might even find you like a writing method you've not tried before better than what you've been doing!

body_switchwritingmethods

#5: DO Mix and Match Prompt Ideas

If you need more inspiration, feel free to combine multiple prompts (but don't overwhelm yourself with too much to write about).

You can also try switching genres from what might be suggested in the prompt. For instance, try writing a prompt that seems funny in a serious and sad way, or finding the humor in something that otherwise seems humorless. The categories we've organized the prompts into are by no means limiters on what you're allowed to write about.

#6: DO Try to Write Regularly

The more regularly you write, the easier it will be to write (with or without writing prompts).

For some people, this means writing daily; for others, it means setting aside time to write each weekend or each month. Set yourself an achievable goal (write 2x a week, write 1000 words a month) and stick to it. You can always start small and then ramp your wordcount or frequency up.

If you do better when you have something outside yourself prompting to write, you may also want to try something like morning pages , which encourages you to write at least 750 words every day, in any format (story, diary entry, social media postings, etc).

body_planouttimetowrite

What's Next?

Thinking about attending college or grad school for creative writing? Our articles on whether or not you should major in creative writing and the best creative writing programs are there for you! Plus, if you're a high schooler, you should check out these top writing contests .

Creative writing doesn't necessarily have to be fiction. Check out these three examples of narrative writing and our tips for how to write your own narrative stories and essays .

Just as writing prompts can help give form to amorphous creative energy, using specific writing structures or devices can be great starting points for your next story. Read through our discussion of the top 20 poetic devices to know and see if you can work at least one new one into your next writing session.

Still looking for more writing ideas? Try repurposing our 100+ easy drawing ideas for characters, settings, or plot points in your writing.

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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2023-2024 Common App essay prompts

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We are pleased to announce that the Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2023-2024.

It’s not just for the sake of consistency that we have chosen to keep the essay prompts the same for the upcoming application year. Our past research has shown that overall satisfaction with the prompts exceeded 95% across our constituent groups - students, counselors, advisors, teachers, and member colleges. Moving forward, we want to learn more about who is choosing certain prompts to see if there are any noteworthy differences among student populations.

We know some schools are beginning to have conversations with juniors and transfer students about their college options. As we’ve always said, this is not a call for students to begin writing. We hope that by sharing the prompts now, students will have the time they need to reflect on their own personal stories and begin thinking about what they want to share with colleges. As you assist students with their planning, feel free to share our Common App Ready resource on approaching the essay (in English and Spanish ). You can also visit our YouTube channel to view our breakdown of all 7 Common App essay prompts . 

"Moving forward, we want to learn more about who is choosing certain prompts to see if there are any noteworthy differences among student populations." Meredith Lombardi, Director, Education and Training, Common App

Students who are ready to start exploring the application can create their Common App account prior to August 1. With account rollover , we will retain any responses to questions on the Common App tab, including the personal essay.

Below is the full set of essay prompts for 2023-2024.

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

We will retain the optional community disruption question within the Writing section. 

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Creative Writing Prompts To Boost Your Inspiration

creative writing prompts

Creative writing prompts are writing assignments used to test students’ writing knowledge and skills.

Inwardly, the key to being a good creative writer, is practice – having daily writing exercises. On possible external influences, you should not wait for inspiration to come to you. You have to chase it with a club. Let’s see how you can get inspiration for writing flowing.

Where To Get Ideas To Write About?

No matter how much you like to write, there will always be days when you will need to be inspired by one muse or another. In fact, it could open a debate about whether inspiration is not just something we want, but an integral part of the creative process.

Every creative writing author needs inspiration if they want to write well. Most of the time, our inspiration comes to us in the most strange ways and the most unforeseen places.

We have compiled for you some  creative writing tips  which include 20 sources to get inspired to write; some are obvious, others not so much.

  • Books : Read the writers you admire, like to read, analyze what they write, and try to emulate what they do.
  • Things you hear : All writers, deep down, are a bit of voyeurs. When you’re in a public place, always have your antennas on. Listen to other people’s conversations discreetly.
  • Magazines : Magazines do not attract their readers for their literary quality, they supplement that lack with different focuses, voices, and rhythms, and that is where we can learn.
  • Forums : When writing in forums, the important thing is to share information or make your ideas known. And it’s those ideas that can inspire us to have creative writing topics.
  • Art : For a writer, there is no greater inspiration than the art itself. Although it is not the same as seeing it in person, you can find inspiration in the great works, you just have to search for them online. It does not have to be classic art. Anything works, anime, comics… it’s up to you.
  • Music : At the same time, you can find a lot of inspiration in music. Music is life, you can write with background music, and the truth is, it is magical.
  • Friends : Chatting with friends, in person, by phone, or by email can inspire you. Your friends will criticize your creative writing ideas, give another perspective, and give you their own ideas.
  • Nature : Do you lack ideas? Lift your ass off the chair and go for a walk or run. Get away from the sidewalks and streets and look for places full of trees, grass, and vegetation. A park, a river, the beach, a pond, etc.
  • History : Great personalities in history can inspire you to do great things. Examples are Julio César, Napoleón, Beethoven, etc.
  • Travels : Maybe you go around the world, or just a weekend getaway, leave your area, visit other landscapes, people, food, or customs. Use those places to change the way you see things.
  • Children : Children have a different way of seeing things, without taboos. They say what they think and do not care what you think of what they say.
  • Exercise : Exercising is not only good for the body, by increasing the blood flow to the brain and being outdoors, your thoughts flow more freely.
  • Newspapers : If you know what to look for, you will be surprised. Sometimes, reality trumps fiction.
  • Dreams : Dreams are a source of inspiration. If you dream a lot (or even a few times), you can have a notebook where you write them down – if you are able to remember them.
  • Journal writing : We recommend having a journal. It does not have to be pretty, as long as it has a leather cover and all that. You do not even have to write in it every day. Later, you can use many of those pieces.
  • Blogs : There are millions of blogs, on any subject you can imagine (and on so many others that you cannot imagine). Be inspired, but do not copy. Talking about plagiarism, you may try to find out  how to avoid plagiarism  and produce unique content, even while getting inspiration from online sources.
  • Poetry : How is it possible that poetry inspires prose? Nothing better than the rhythm and beauty of a good poem to inspire great emotions and ideas.
  • Shakespeare : The eternal bard is always a source of inspiration for anyone. His stories are impossible to pigeonhole – love, drama, comedy, ghosts, witches, murders, and racism. Everything fits into complex work that is bequeathed to us.
  • Google : Possibly the greatest source of information that exists. If you are dry of ideas, write anything and see what comes out.
  • Free writing : Here’s a great exercise, either to find inspiration or to relieve yourself in times of stress. Take a sheet of paper, a pen and let yourself go. Do not think. Just write what goes through your head.

Using Creative Writing Prompts

Creative writing prompts can be likened to a matchbox. They create the triggers of the imaginative fire, making you go beyond your comfort zone towards a creative writing exercise.

Using a creative writing prompt, there is no limit you can achieve, from creating a short creative story to a long essay, all depends on your ability to brainstorm, research, and invent literary ideas.

Best Creative Writing Topics And Prompts In 2020 (By Type)

Creative writing is diverse, from journal writing to essay writing and many others. Let’s see some various creative prompts and topics to write about.

Fiction Writing Topics Ideas

  • A rebellious character revolts against a higher authority.
  • Avenging a loved one: an act of revenge within the same family.
  • A disaster occurs or will occur as a result of a character’s actions.
  • A situation where a hunted character must escape to save his life.
  • A character avenges the murder of another character.
  • A character kidnaps a person against his will.
  • A character kills the husband of his lover.
  • A character commits crimes under the influence of madness or drugs.
  • A character has or perhaps has an incestuous relationship.
  • A character kills a loved one without knowing it.
  • A character gives his life for an ideal.
  • A character sacrifices himself to save a loved one.
  • The passion of a character turns out to be fatal.
  • A loving character gets lost and commits a crime.
  • The beloved is engaged in reprehensible activities.
  • A situation when love between a pair is hindered by the family or society.
  • A character loves someone who is his enemy.
  • A character from an affluent background falls in love with a person of lower social status or vice versa.
  • Breakdown in international relations between world superpowers results in a third world war, which sees half of the world population eliminated.
  • A character seeks to seize power by all means.

20 Creative Nonfiction Writing Topics

  • The real relationship between food, fitness, and weight
  • Steroid users should be excluded from team sports activities.
  • What are the negative effects of dieting?
  • Hockey and other dangerous sports.
  • The abuse of energy drinks
  • The problem of work addiction
  • The problem of sexually transmitted diseases in young people.
  • Marketing of healthy foods and their impact on youth health
  • Marketing and its role in shaping superficial paradigms in young people
  • Debate on the legality or not of drugs
  • Debate on euthanasia
  • Being a vegetarian in a world of fast foods
  • Abortion: Arguments for and against its legalization
  • The legality of drugs does not solve the problem of addiction in young people.
  • Why is junk food so addictive?
  • Is it a good idea to drink bottled water?
  • Do fad diets really work?
  • Does eating gluten really make people healthier?
  • What fast food restaurant serves the best food?
  • Which is better, Starbucks or your local coffee shop?

Journal Writing Topics Ideas

  • Write about the girl you turned down your proposal after a couple of dates
  • Write about your first day in college
  • Write about your scary nightmares
  • Write about your nostalgic childhood memories
  • Write about what your first wet dream felt like
  • If you’ve ever lost a parent, write about how it feels
  • Write how it feels like returning back to college after your summer vacay
  • Write about your disturbing health conditions
  • Pen a thank you journal to a friend who listened to your worries and proffered solutions
  • Write about dissuading a close friend from alcoholism
  • What and where will I be in 10 years time?
  • A past time in your life which you would love to forget
  • Write about your favorite authors or entertainers.
  • Write about how your first heartbreak felt like
  • Write about losing your childhood friend
  • Set yourself a future goal
  • Evaluate what your biggest accomplishments in life are
  • Pen a real-life story of betrayal
  • If you win a million dollar lottery, how would you spend it?
  • Write about who your anger problems

20 Essay Writing Topics And Prompts

  • The problem of drug use with students
  • Children with autism and the challenge of education
  • Most high-level jobs are done by men. Should the government encourage a certain percentage of these jobs to be reserved for women?
  • Zoos are sometimes considered necessary but are poor alternatives compared to a natural environment. Discuss some of the arguments for and against keeping animals in zoos.
  • The difficulty of achieving economic independence
  • The government should impose limits on domestic garbage.
  • Do men earn more money than women who have the same job position and education?
  • Is it easier for a man to access a better-paid job?
  • Euthanasia: where does the term come from? What does it mean to grant a person a dignified death? Cases of euthanasia in the world. In what countries is it legal and in what cases?
  • What is the best way to prevent the use and abuse of drugs?
  • Hemp legalization: advantages and disadvantages. What countries have legalized it, and what has been the result of drug addiction rates?
  • The problem of poverty: economic systems that promote the creation of new jobs and social welfare.
  • Legalization of gay marriage: where is it legal?
  • Advantages of an inclusive society where the rights of all citizens are respected regardless of their creed, race, and/or sexual orientation.
  • The right to privacy in the globalized era: how the internet and social networks have robbed us of privacy?
  • Where does intimate life begin, and where does it end?
  • What types of content is good to publish, and which ones should remain in the private universe?
  • Control in the sale of weapons: why would it help to have more control over who, how, and when someone can have access to firearms?
  • Immigration: how migrants make an active and productive part of society? Advantages of opening the doors to trained workers and families in need.
  • Ways to fight bullying: how to explain to children and young people the serious consequences of bullying? How to make children and young people an active part of the solution.

Creative Writing Topics By Grade

There are different creative prompts for different education levels: elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Below is a list of daily writing prompts, interesting topics for each grade as well as some questions related to the topic that can help generate a point of view.

20 Writing Topics For Elementary School Students

There is no age limit about the age one can start writing. Let’s see some writing prompt idea and topics which can shape the writing skills of elementary school kids.

  • My best friend
  • My favorite food
  • My long-distant uncle
  • The best gift Daddy gave me
  • My favorite teacher
  • My classmates
  • My favorite TV show
  • My favorite cartoon series
  • How I’ll spend my next holiday
  • My dream place I’ll love to visit
  • My scary night dream
  • My favorite book
  • My favorite subject
  • What I’ll like to become
  • My visit to the zoo
  • My favorite time of the week

20 Prompts And Topics For Middle School Students

Middle school is the preparatory level for high school. The basic literary skills and knowledge acquired here will shape the student’s future regarding literary writing. Here are 20 prompts and topics for students in middle school.

  • The first day in my new school
  • My favorite Disney TV show
  • My favorite Disney character
  • Why school uniforms shouldn’t be made compulsory for students
  • My trip to the cross-country
  • The problem of racism
  • Should children do house chores
  • When’s the best time to have my assignment done
  • What is feminism
  • Why sporting activities is compulsory for students
  • The role of technology in studying
  • The best day of my life
  • The things I regret doing
  • Which is the best department in high school?
  • The problem of bullying among students
  • Social inequality
  • Are kids influenced by violence on TV?
  • The best book I have read?
  • My favorite Shakespeare book
  • My role model

20 Creative Prompts And Topics For High School Students

Daily writing exercises are highly recommended for high school students – especially in the arts and related departments in high school.

As essays in high school will prepare you for more tasking literary pieces such as argumentative essays, here are some topics and prompts to help you in answering the famed question: what should I write about?

  • How do fertilizers and chemicals affect the products we consume? Consequences in our health of the use of these substances. Why is it better to eat organic crops?
  • The revolution of electronic books: Advantages and disadvantages of reading in tablets. Where are the paper books?
  • The effect of globalization on the expansion of art: The new concepts of temporal arts.
  • Influence of social networks on adolescents: How new generations are losing social skills due to their addiction to interactions through the screen.
  • Internet abuse and its effects on the health of young people.
  • Violence in video games: How are children in affected by the violence that video games present to them?
  • Fast food and its effects on health: Everything in moderation is worth it?
  • Do women have more responsibilities in the home?
  • How do animal fats and saturated fats affect health?
  • The problem of obesity in the new generations. How to educate children and young people in healthier eating habits?
  • How is education one of the keys to generating more social equality?
  • The death penalty: does it bring solutions to society to end the life of a convict?
  • The benefits of vegetarian food: How a diet based on fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and seeds can help health.
  • How to empower girls to become successful women The importance of education to create equal environments for boys and girls.
  • The obsession with beauty and perfection: Too much care can generate more problems than benefits?
  • How reading helps generate curious children and young people.
  • Importance of homeschooling: why what we learn at home is equally important to what we learn at school? How to teach by example.
  • The role of the State in higher education: How politicians and governments can be a factor in changing the quality of education.
  • Reasons to prohibit the use of cell phones in the classroom: why should classrooms be a cell-free place?
  • How to provide an educational environment free of publications, social networks, likes, and tweets?

20 Writing Prompts For College Students

Going to college is definitely a step-up in the life of every student, and these essay prompts will even get more talking and need extra effort and brainstorming. Check out 20 of some of the many writing ideas you can choose from.

  • The consequences of climate change: Origins, studies, and causes. How are human beings affected by these phenomena? How to help with small changes in our habits?
  • The use and abuse of creams and plastic surgeries.
  • How is the workload balanced with domestic life?
  • Importance of promoting green energy: The new wave of renewable energy. How do certain countries invest in green energy? The advantages of renewable energies.
  • Why the world should switch to electric cars
  • Excessive noise in cities: Is there a way to “clean up” the noise generated by cars, buses, and trucks in cities?
  • Why AI is a ticking time bomb. The disadvantages of implementing AI in human society
  • Tax havens: Places where tax benefits attract citizens from other parts of the world.
  • The minimum wage: How is the new minimum wage in the United States helping the less favored? Why does an equitable minimum wage generate more committed employees?
  • Artificial insemination: How couples who could not have children before now have a family. How artificial insemination helps couples of the same sex to form a family.
  • Abortion: what countries allow it, and what are its restrictions? Why support it? Why be against? What are the advantages of decriminalizing it?
  • The role of communications in social networks for modern education.
  • Write about sportsmen. Do you think they are paid too much?
  • Why teachers should be graded
  • Homosexuality in the military service
  • Why firearms should not be registered
  • How the family structure has changed in recent years
  • UFOs: Fantasies or realities
  • Who is the best American president ever
  • Why payment of admission fees should be scrapped in the university

Top 10 Creative Topics For Writing

Having talked about prompts and topics for different grades, here’s a culmination of some top creative topics. Check them out!

  • Why Trump is wrong about climate change
  • Why cannabis should not be legalized
  • Why euthanasia should be considered
  • Life in the countryside is better than life in the city
  • What’s the right age for youth to leave their parents
  • Is global cooling still possible on earth?
  • Why there are less natural disasters in Africa
  • The brain drain and brain gain phenomena
  • Why superpowers US and China should strengthen their ties
  • Is Mars habitable?

How To Organize Daily Writing Exercises?

  • Keep a journal
  • Dedicate a specific time
  • Start a blog
  • Eliminate distraction
  • Set up a goal
  • Dedicate a specific space for writing

Much has been said about how to come up with creative writing topics, prompts, and ideas for every educational level. Consistency and practice are the main keys toward perfection in your writing niche. There are audiences for everyone, and the literary world is vast enough for you to explore.

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