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College-Level Persuasive Essay Topics

by Nick Callos, Demand Media

    Being able to come up with good persuasive essay topics is the first step to producing an effective paper. College-level persuasive essays move beyond the five-paragraph structure most students master in high school and must use cited evidence to back up what they say. While most high school classes use common debatable topics to teach a certain essay form, college professors often will assign essays without any required format or topic. You'll need to come up with your own topics if you want to produce a successful essay.

    Considerations

    Writing on college-level persuasive topics requires you to take a personal stand on a certain point or issue. You need to choose a topic that can get you mentally motivated to argue your point passionately and effectively. Be certain the sources you cite are not only factually accurate but credible. Choose a topic that lets you read other people's writings about it, or do your own firsthand research. For example, if you want to write an article on why firefighter benefits in a certain city should not be reduced, interview firefighters, their legislative supporters and also their legislative opponents. This will give you primary research and greatly support whichever side you argue.

    Essay Structure

    Keep intact the standard essay structure of introduction, body of evidence and conclusion. Capture readers' attention with a catchy first line that makes them want to read more. It's best if your topic is something morally ambiguous or in question. The introduction should clearly articulate exactly what the paper is going to be about, but should not give away too much regarding how you'll make your case. The thesis should strongly state your position on the topic, and the body paragraphs should then walk the reader through your points, providing evidence for each one. Within the body, consider the opposing viewpoint as appropriate and then refute it. Your ending should sum things up, and it can enhance the main argument by offering readers a realization of what's at stake in taking a side on the issue.

    Social Science Examples

    The social sciences and humanities are two subject areas that require persuasive essay-writing in classes. For example, a good persuasive essay in a U.S. foreign policy class could argue that Harry Truman's post-World War II reaction to communism established a foundational basis for all of America's subsequent wars. A term paper for a class on African-American society could argue the merits of hip-hop music over criticisms of it. You could also argue for raising the minimum wage in an essay in an economics class studying the labor industry.

    Humanities Examples

    Literature, philosophy and history classes almost always involve essay-writing, but you'll need to come up with fresh ideas for topics. For example, in an existentialist philosophy class, you could argue that although existence is inherently absurd, humanity should embrace its absurdity as liberating and make the most of it. For a literature class on John Milton's "Paradise Lost," you could contend that Satan is the real hero of the epic. For a modern history class, you could argue that Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was not the best solution to the Depression. All of these debatable topics could be argued from the opposite viewpoint. The key is to find something interesting, write articulately and back up your points with passion, logic and evidence.

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    About the Author

    Nick Callos has been a writer and researcher for over six years, previously working for his school newspaper and now as an online contributor. Callos graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and obtained minors in history, philosophy and Chinese.

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