College essay titles

College essay titles

If your essay doesn’t have a title, you do not give your audienceany reason to be interested in starting to read your essay. Whenwriting a college application essay, you need to make sure thatthe admissions officers are motivated to read your paper bycuriosity and not by necessity.

Imagine a newspaper that has all the articles without the titles.How will you be able to choose an article you want to read? Ofcourse, newspaper without articles is a ridiculous idea. The sameapplies to application essays. Your readers want to know whatthey are going to read in your essay, so coming up with theinteresting college essay titles is very important for yourapplication.

The goal of a title

We made it clear that title is necessary for your essay. But whatdoes make it effective? First of all, think about the goal of atitle:

  • A good title should hook the attention of your readers
  • When seeing a title, your readers should want to read youressay
  • The title should give information what your essay is about

As for the last point, keep in mind that the title does not needto be very detailed. Sometimes you can find academic essays thathave very long titles such as “Photography of Julia Cameron:Studying the Application of Long Shutter Speeds to Reach aSpiritual Effect.” For an app essay such a headline will beridiculous, over-written, and pompous. Imagine the reaction ofyour potential reader when he or she sees very long title. Whenyou offer too many details in your title, the admissions officerwill not feel like reading the essay itself.

What is a good title?

There are no clear rules on how to make a good title. Interestingtitles can be of various forms:

  • A title can be straightforward and concise. There’s no needto include alliteration and wit in your title. It is veryeffective to use direct and simple language. Do not play withwords or show great wit. Instead create a simple title that wouldreveal the essence of your paper.
  • A title can be provocative. If you write about a shocking,humorous, or embarrassing event in your life, it should be easyfor you to come up with a title that would grab the attention ofyour readers.
  • Title can play with words and be clever. For example, thetitle “Porkopolis” does not make any sense but it works perfectlyfor an essay about how you became a vegetarian. However, do nottry to be too clever. Otherwise it may have an opposite effect.

Your title should provide at least a little sense on the subjectmatter of your essay and it should motivate the readers to keepon reading.

Mistakes in titles

There are some common mistakes that candidates usually make whencoming up with college essay titles. They include:

  • There is nothing more embarrassing than a misspelledheadline. Imagine that you have made a tiny mistake in one wordof your title. For example, instead of “it’s” you wrote “its” orinstead of “patience” you wrote “patients.” Everyone makesmistakes but pay extra care to your app essay and make sure todouble check it before submitting it. A mistake in the headlinewill definitely remove any confidence your readers have in yourwriting skills.
  • Clichés. If you use clichés in your title, there is a highchance that you are writing about the experience, which iscommonplace and unremarkable. Do not create the impression thatyou have nothing unique to say in your essay.
  • Difficult vocabulary. Efficient essays are usually written inaccessible and clear language. When you try to sound too smart byadding unnecessary syllables to each word it becomes difficult toread your essay. Using overblown vocabulary in the title willkill the readers’ desire to read even a work, which is 600 wordslong.
  • Unnatural cleverness. Be careful when you want to play withwords in your title. Not everyone is a fan of puns. In addition,your title may seem ridiculous if the audience does notunderstand your clever allusion. It is good to show clevernessbut before submitting your paper check the headline on yourfriends and family to ensure it works the way it is intended.
  • Vague language. If your essay is titled something like “A BadExperience” or “Four Things That Are Important to Me,” it soundsvery banal. “Bad” is the meaningless word and “things” rarelyadds any value to an essay. Do not be vague. Be concrete andprecise.
  • Too broad language. Do not try to cover too much informationin your title. Examples of using the broad language include “MyLife Story” or “My Personal Growth.” Such titles suggest that youwill be discussing years of your life in 600 words. Such attemptsare doomed to failure and your readers will be doubting whetherto read your paper at all.

Using a sample title

A lot of students start their essays with the title and afterfinishing writing the essay they never change it. But chances arethat the first title you create will be vague or may not fit yourpaper well, which will lead to a failure. When you start writinga paper use a sample title and come up with the final variant inthe end of your writing process. Remember to proofread the titleand the rest of the essay carefully before handing it in.

Main terms

Find two main terms from your essay and combine them to create aneffective title. For example, a paper about toxic food additivescan have a title such as “Environmental Toxins and Bad HealthHabits.”

Asking questions

When you ask a question in your title, it can increase theinterest of readers as long as the answer to the question is inthe main part of your paper. Also, you can use the technique thatincludes offering the answer provided in the essay after thequestion in the form of a more detailed subtitle.

Debating the focus

When you work on a persuasive or an argumentative essay, you havea great opportunity to create a good title. These types of papersrequire you to have a point of view on a certain issue or atopic. For example, if you’re working on an essay aboutcitizenship for illegal immigrants, you can emphasize the prosand cons of the issue and create a title like “Citizenship forEverybody or Closed Borders.”

Coming up with a title

You can see titles everywhere – at the beginning of the book orstory or at the description of the product. Titles usually startthings. However, there are cases when students submit theiressays without a title.

And there is nothing wrong with that. Many good essays do notrequire a title. In addition, some papers are best if leftuntitled. And of course, there’s nothing worse than a bad title.It is better to have no title at all rather than name your essay“My Trip to Italy.”

However, titles can be eye-catching and informative, and they canbring the essay together. Most of the papers you compose incollege have titles. In most cases, your college essay shouldhave a title to.

So how can you come up with an interesting title for your collegeessay? The first thing to do is to wait. Yes, titles should startyour essay but you should begin writing your essay beforeconsidering the title. It is often much easier to name a workafter you have written the whole thing. Titles can summarize whatyou have written in a few words or draw attention to a certainpart in your writing that you wanted to emphasize. However, youcan’t sum anything up if there is nothing to summarize yet.Therefore, it is recommended first to complete your essay andthen start coming up with some title variants.

Once you are done with your essay, you can start brainstormingfor ideas. This is the stage when you need to write downeverything that comes to your mind. When coming up with a title,you may include the following in it:

  • Puns
  • A couple of important words from the body of your essay
  • Colons
  • Relevant proper nouns
  • Alliterations
  • Allusions

Whatever ideas come to your mind keep listing them. When you’redone, choose a couple of title options that you think are thebest and ask someone you know to tell you what they think.

A good title is the one that accurately reflects what your paperis about without highlighting wrong ideas or giving away too manydetails. Good titles can’t even add something to your essay.

It is important to choose the title that gets you excited andspeaks to you. When you choose a title you like, you can proceedto the boring things:

  • Make sure your title does not use the words you do not knowthe meaning of
  • Make sure the title does not have typos
  • Make sure it is appropriate for your audience
  • Make sure it doesn’t say anything you do not intend to say

If you have done everything right, you have found the perfecttitle.

How to choose a good title

College essay titles

There are many variants when choosing a good title. These aresome of them:

  • Insert a catchy line from the material. It is important forthe phrase to reflect the essence of the essay.
  • Getting rid of the set idioms (i.e. phraseological sentences)and the creation of new lines with new paradoxical meanings as asuccessful method to attract the readers’ attention.
  • The contamination (i.e., alteration) of meanings is alsoeffective in forming headlines. Combining creativity and humor isthe base for such titles. They are perfect for all types ofessays.
  • The application of unique combinations of letters andcharacters in the headline.


Keep in mind the following:

  • There is no need to worry a lot about coming up with theperfect headline. The most significant part is the content of thearticle.
  • If it is not required by the task, avoid the application ofpronouns in the headline since these are informal words, and ifyour headline contains them, it won’t look professional.
  • The title you select should not be repellent. There should beno profanity or rude expressions. Reveal yourself to theadmissions officers from the best side.
  • If you discuss your favorite book, attempt to skip mentioningits title in the headline.
  • Make your headline as informative and short as possible.

Other advice to pay attention to


Don’t make the title long. If it is possible to tell the essenceof your work in three words instead of five, it will bewonderful. However, you do not need to make a choice in favor ofa short but uninteresting heading, if there is an eye-catchingbut longer title variant.

If a genre of the work doesn’t require it, avoid difficultscientific concepts.

Include subheadings. If you have a catchy but not informativetitle, include a subtitle where you will describe the essence ofthe essay.

In conclusion

College essay titles

Both the novices and experienced writers have difficulties comingup with an interesting title for their work. It is recommended towrite your essay first and then once you shape your ideas, goback and work on the title. Also, do not be afraid to seek helpwith your title. Brainstorming for ideas with friends and familycan often help you generate better title options than the onesyou would think of on your own. It is important to get your titleright because it is going to make an immediate impression on theadmissions officers who are going to read your paper.

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