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College Essay Titles: Are They Important?

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If you’re reading this, you are probably writing your college essays. Writing, drafting, revising, and proofreading your essays all play really important roles in the process.

One of the finishing touches on most pieces of writing is a title – but do you need one in a college essay? This guide gives you all the information you’ll need!

Are college essay titles important?

To be blunt: not really. The most important part of a college essay is the essay itself. Your essay should be personal, insightful, creative, and meticulously proofread. They do not need to be titled.

However, this doesn’t mean that a title is a bad idea. A title for your college essay falls under the “nice to have” category. A title isn’t something that an application reader will be looking for, but a well-done title can really help tie your essay together, especially if you have room in your word count for one.

How to think of a great college essay title

A title for any piece of writing should be brief, clever, and creative. Most importantly for college essays, they should add something to your piece. College essays often have a limited word count, so if you are going to be using some of the words for a title, it’s important to make sure it’s worth it!

To begin brainstorming a great college essay title, close your eyes. Think about your essay holistically. Likely you have been working on a micro-level of editing and revising: word choice, sentence structure, and other small-level changes. Try and zoom out.

What is the big picture of your essay? What is the major lesson you learned? Or, perhaps, what is the funniest part – what could be an exciting hook for your reader? Try and brainstorm a list of these ideas. Don’t worry about being brief yet.

Once you have an idea you like, workshop it down. Try and make your title as short as you can without sacrificing substance.

It might also be a good idea to ask some friends, family members, or teachers for advice. Sometimes it’s easier to see the big picture of an essay if you weren’t the person who actually wrote it.

Examples of poor college essay titles

A bad essay title is wordy, confusing, or just plain boring. Restating the essay prompt in a title, or an essay for that matter, is a waste of words and time. Avoid titles that sound like the following:

  • “My Most Memorable Moment” – boring
  • “The Importance of Finding Community in Unlikely Places” – boring and wordy
  • “Why I Want to Attend [University Name]” – boring
  • “Cars and Lessons” – confusing and vague, doesn’t add anything to the piece

Examples of great college essay titles

So, what does a good college essay title sound like? Great college essay titles are quippy, creative, interesting, and/or add something new to your essay. Here are some examples:

  • “Found Family, French Fries, and Football” – the alliteration shows some extra thought put into titling the essay. This title already tells a reader this will likely be about the author finding a community in a football team, but leaves the reader wondering how french fries factor into it all.
  • “Y-whay I-way Ove-lay Ig-pay Atin-lay” – this falls under the “creative” category. That title uses “Pig Latin,” a made-up “language” many people are likely familiar with. Once translated, this also piques the reader’s interest; how will Pig Latin be relevant in a college essay?
  • “It’s The Lemurs” – this title is for an essay answering “Why Do You Want To Attend Our School,” and the author chose to write about the university’s lemur research center. This is a short and surprising title, and definitely leaves the reader wanting to know more!

Conclusion: College Essay Titles

When push comes to shove, your essay is your essay, and you know it best. If you feel certain that the best title for your essay breaks one of the above rules, that’s okay. Our guidelines are just that: guidelines.

Hopefully, this guide helps you understand the purpose of college essay titles and how to come up with good ones. Remember, essay titles for college applications are certainly not necessary, but can add a lot if done correctly.

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