Strategies for Topic Selection

Ivy & Quill - Strategies for Topic Selection

After gathering some background information about your life experiences and academic interests (see: Brainstorming for the Personal Statement), you are ready to strategize what direction to go in regarding your Personal Statement topic. 

Step 1: Pull up the three essay topics that you came up with during the brainstorming activity. If you haven’t done this yet, now is the time. 

Make sure that your topics check all of the items off the following list: 

  • What elements about myself do I want to share with admissions readers? 
  • Will I have enough content to tell an engaging story with a clear beginning, middle, and end?
  • Is this essay mostly about me, and not about other people in my life? 
  • Will I be able to use creative writing techniques to liven up my story?
  • If I’m choosing a common topic, can I put a unique spin on it? 
  • Does this essay reveal my best possible self?

Step 2: After you’ve done this for all three topics, come up with a “working title” for each one—either nodding to the story’s content itself or to its theme. 

Step 3: Next, summarize each story in 3-4 sentences. 

Step 4: Write down a few strengths and weaknesses for each topic. What can you envision really working well? What parts might be expanded upon? What do you see falling flat? 

And voila! By reflecting on your responses to Step 4, you should be able to determine the best possible topic for your Personal Statement! 


Develop your chosen idea (ONE) by jotting down notes about what it is that you would like to mention in your introduction followed by three main ideas that could potentially be used in the essay’s body paragraphs followed by your ideas for how you would like to conclude your essay. You can write either bullet point notes or actual sentences—it’s your choice! 

Complete the homework assignment by using the following outline:

Chosen Topic/Working Title:


Three Main Ideas (and supporting details)

Main Idea #1: 

Main Idea #2: 

Main Idea #3: