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35 Essay Topics for High School

Essay Prompts to Help High School Students Practice Writing Personal Essays— Plus, 11 fabulous bonus prompts for writers of all ages. Yes, it’s true. Our personal essay topics and ideas may be used by high school writers AND by college students, young adults, or writers of any age. Read on to discover more.

Personal Essay Topics for High School


If you need inspiration for your next personal essay or for your personal narratives, then you have come to the right place.

Yes, We Have Personal Persuasive Essay Topics and Ideas

If they haven’t already, high school students will quickly become accustomed to writing essays—and we say, the more writing, the merrier!  Because high-schoolers will ultimately need to write personal essays for everything from college applications to standardized tests, it’s essential to make sure your class is getting in enough practice.

As they answer these 35 new essay prompts for high school students, teens should plan to write personal essays of about 500-1000 words in response.

Covering topics like communication, rites of passage, ethical consumption, and more, students will have the chance to explore issues that they and their peers face each day—all within the safe confines of the page. 

Most importantly, they’ll be able to reflect, grow, and prepare for the long road ahead all at the same time.

Personal Essay Topics for High School Students

So get to it and use these essay prompts in your next assignment for your high school students. By doing so, you’ll help teens get better at personal essay writing and more skilled at expressing their deepest thoughts and ideas.

  1. What inspires you?
  2. What inanimate object best embodies you?
  3. What kind of person do you want to be—and what kind of person are you now?
  4. What makes you proud?
  5. What do your parents not understand about you?
  6. Describe a rite of passage you’ve completed and what it meant to you.
  7. What is the most important quality a person can have?
  8. Write about a lesson you recently learned—and how it changed your outlook on things.
  9. How has the place where you’ve grown up impacted who you are?
  10. Write about the first time you felt different or alone.
  11. What is the best decision you ever made?
  12. What is something you could change about yourself that would make a major difference in your life?
  13. What kind of impact does peer pressure have on your life?
  14. Are you adventurous? Compare and contrast a time when you took a risk and a time when you played it safe.
  15. Write about a time when someone told you something about yourself that changed your perspective.
  16. Write about a challenge you’re facing right now—and what you plan to do about it.
  17. When do you find it hardest to make good decisions? Why?
  18. Are you comfortable in your body? How do media and culture affect your perception of how you look?
  19. Write about the first time when you felt pressured to adhere to a particular gender role.
  20. Do you identify as a feminist? Why or why not?
  21. Do you consider yourself to be spiritual or religious at all? Why or why not?
  22. What does “ethical consumption” mean to you—and does it matter to you?
  23. What role does social media play in your life? Write about its influence—or lack thereof.
  24. Write about a piece of media that has influenced or impacted you significantly.
    High School Essay Prompt Ideas
  25. Why do you think our culture fixates so heavily on celebrity gossip?
  26. How do you and your friends communicate with each other?
  27. What period of school (elementary school, middle school, high school, or college) do you feel is most important? Why?
  28. Do you feel like you and your classmates are honest with each other? Why or why not?
  29. What issue truly motivates you—and why?
  30. Do you believe in “best” friends? Why or why not?
  31. What is the most important thing in the world to you?
  32. If you were a college admissions officer, what qualities would you look for in prospective students?
  33. Write about a time when you were tested—and how you handled the tough situation.
  34. When you look back on high school someday, what part will you remember fondly? Which part will you wish you could forget?
  35. What is your greatest dream? Do you feel like you’ll ever achieve it?

We hope you enjoyed this list of ideas and are able to create some amazing works of art from the topic of your choice.

Take a look at these free writing resources:

And, if you still need a different prompt to help you get inspired, take a look at this list of 11 personal writing ideas:

  1. Write a personal statement about yourself, your beliefs, values, and the morals you choose to live by.
  2. What is the most beautiful place you have ever experienced and why?
  3. What is your biggest fear?
  4. What are the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make in your life thus far?
  5. What is the one wrong choice you wish you could go back and change and why?
  6. What is the bravest moment in your life?
  7. What new understanding do you highly value and how did you learn it?
  8. What about your childhood is significant so much so that you want others to know all about it?
  9. What movie mirrors your life?
  10. What is the ugliest thing you’ve ever experienced in your life and what did you learn from it? 
  11. What accomplishment are you the proudest of and what talent do you think helped you achieve what you did. 

Until next time, write on…

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Essay Writing Prompts and Topics for High Schoolers
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