Expository Essay College Topics

20 Expository Essay Topics for College Students


Expository essays are something that we are introduced to at an early age. Essentially any topic can be written about for expository essays, so be sure to pick something that you are interested in and enjoy writing about. This will read better to the audience and will make the paper more engaging, especially if you’re writing at a college level. Though aany topic can be written about for expository essays, it’s important to choose one that is mature and intelligent. Here are some ideas for expository essays you can write about at a college level.

  1. What is diversity in the workplace?: Why is it important and how does it affect the workplace?
  2. A profile on a person: Research their background, explain how they came to be, and be sure to include quotes by them.
  3. What is global warming?: Discuss the long term effects and explain the significance of past and current trends.
  4. World War II/other major historical events: What was their significance? How did these events impact history?
  5. The impact of the internet on communication: How has the internet affected the way we talk? You can even speculate on the future of the internet.
  6. Analyze a piece of film, literature, or music.
  7. Highlight an issue that doesn’t receive enough attention.
  8. Does your mood affect your memory?
  9. Explain the significance of education on life quality.
  10. How to write a cover letter.
  11. What is the cause of the increase in autism?
  12. Explain food stamps or other aid programs and demonstrate how they work.
  13. How does social media affect real life relationships?
  14. What is a black hole?
  15. How does technology improve our quality of life?
  16. Explain the consequences of obesity – both in society and personally.
  17. Define diversity.
  18. How to camp.
  19. How to be a smart consumer.
  20. The history of your college.

Almost all papers written in college fall under an expository format, so there are an endless amount of topics to write about. An expository essay can answer who, what, where, when, why, or how, and can be about anything you’re interested in. These ideas are meant to inspire you and help you brainstorm for future ideas on your next paper. Be sure to write about something mature and well thought out, since the intended audience is at a higher education.

After you have a topic idea, what's next? You have to develop information that you will put into your essay and decide on your audience and purpose. Then you will need to decide the point of view, tone, and style of writing you will use. Sound confusing? Don't worry. Just answer the following questions to get ready to write. You can open up a word processing program, copy these questions, and then answer them, or do it the old-fashioned way with paper and pen.

  1. Topic idea: ______________________________________________. (Write yours out.)
  2. What kind of expository essay is this? (How to? How does it work? Definition? Fact? Cause? History of?)

Gathering Ideas:

  1. List or cluster different aspects or parts of your topic.
  2. Circle the aspects which are most interesting to you. Cluster those.

Topic Evaluation:

  1. Do you have enough to say or too much? Do you need to narrow your topic or expand it?
  2. What sources can you use? Where can you find them?

Audience Evaluation

  1. What are some things your audience would be familiar with which you can compare your topic with?
  2. What do they already know?
  3. What would they be interested in knowing?
  4. What kind of tone would be best for this audience? (informational, satiric, humorous, folksy, professional?)
  5. Considering your audience, which point of view would be the most effective one to write in? Would it be better to write in the first person ("I" or "we"), second person ("you"), or third person (impersonal)?

Write Your Thesis

  1. Your purpose (What do you want audience to think, do, or know after reading? This will be related to what your audience doesn't know.)
  2. Turn your topic into a question: ___________________________________________
  3. Answer that question: __________________________________________________
  4. Make a thesis statement: _______________________________________________
  5. Essay map—sentence(s) which list main sub-topics: ______________________________________________________________ (These can be headers for sections of the paper.)

Essay Organization

  1. Which sort of organization would work best for you? Examples: chronological (in time), spatial (in space and time), process (step-by-step), topical (part-by-part), cause/effect, historical overview, comparison and contrast, or reverse expectations.
  2. Write a brief outline for how you will structure the body of the paper.

Intro and Conclusion

  1. Which of these introduction and conclusion ideas could you use? Reverse expectation, expectation fulfilled, scenario (imagined typical story, also called a case study), personal story, frame story, vivid description, conversation, definition, comparison and contrast, analogy, startling statistic or fact, quotation, story from book or movie.
  2. Choose the best one(s) for your essay and explain what you will do.

Tone, Voice, and Style

  1. Which person will you write in for your essay? (1st “I,” 2nd “you,” or 3rd “he, she, it.”) Why?
  2. What sort of tone will you have? Why? (Example: serious and informative, humorous, sarcastic, enthusiastic.)

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