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Good Titles For College Application Essays

College Admissions Essay

Title or No Title?

I like titles. But they need to be good. A title should be short and witty. Not cutesy. The tone of the title and essay should match. The best ones don’t give away too much about the essay, and only hint at what’s to come. Do not use questions. And don’t even think about a title that sounds anything like “My College Admissions Essay.”

Now, how do you think of a title, a good title? Brainstorm ideas by playing off words that link to your theme, message or topic.

Example: A student wrote an essay about how he broke his wrist playing football, and how he learned more about the game sitting on the bench that season. Theme: How bad things can result in good things/How you can learn from a new perspective. (This “theme” is also a Universal Truth or “life lesson”. Check out this post on Universal Truths to see if you have one hidden in your essay.)

Make a quick list of words from the essay that you could play around with: break, benched, football, sports, view, injury, hurt, new perspective…Let yourself “free associate,” which means you list key words and sayings that come to mind when you say one of them, such as “break.” Try the word in different tenses, in common phrases, in pop culture phrases (titles of movies, books, songs, etc.) and even clichés can work. Also, skim your essay for catchy phrases that might work. Try mixing up a couple keys words to make your own phrase. You can also use the Internet to brainstorm ideas–just Google your keywords or phrases. Have fun with it.

Breaking Away (movie title)

The Big Break

Breaking Up

Break Out

You Deserve a Break Today (line from McDonald’s commercial)

An Unexpected Break

Give Me A Break

A Break from the Past

Beyond the Break

I guess my favorite is Beyond the Break, since it implies the metaphorical movement beyond the injury. But if I didn’t like that one, I would move on to another key word. Keep playing around with them. Make a list. Read them out loud. One word will spark another and so on. You will know almost immediately when you hit on the right one.


If you can’t find one you like, just skip it. Better no title than a bad title for your college application essay—unless one is requested or required.

If you are still at the starting point with writing your essays, try my super helpful Jumpstart Guide. (You can worry about a title later!)

Sure you are done? Read my Ultimate Checklist before you push the button!

Check Out These Related Posts!

Hello everyone.

Does anyone know if you need a title for a college application essay? If not, would you recommend one? Thanks


not necessarily. i'm sure there has been a similar thread about this a while back.

you don't have to have one but then theres nothing wrong with not having one.

the title isn't going to be determining a large, if not any portion of your essay
so if you can't think of anything, then you don't need one.

i only had one for my common apps essay

It is always recommended to title you work. I will give a professional feel to the piece. Always, it can give the reader an idea of the content of your essay. By titling your work (in an interesting or mysterious way) you might entrique the reader to read your essay with more spontaneous-ness, and enthusiasm...

I did not write any titles. Sometimes the essay promps are very broad, it is quite hard to condence the content to a title, and if an attractive title does not fit the essay, you may bring yourself trouble.


Jan 11, 2009   #5

not really as long as the essay is answering teh prompt

To Jenn:

The title of your essay depends on its content. People cannot help you recommend anything unless you provide us with some details. Anyway, title is optional (recommended somehow).

Good luck! (:


Jan 11, 2009   #7

yea like Amy said

Thanks everyone!! I'm still not sure if i should create a title though, since there are various answers...

If anyone wants to recommend anything, my essay is in the thread Common App. Essay- Option #1: significant experience and its impact The revised version is at the bottom!

Thanks again!


it think it's good to have one but not necessary!

It is not necessary, but you can have one as you like.

Titles are Great!!

I believe you should always give a title! The title is so important because it's the first thought you convey to the reader.


is it bad if i didn't put a title to any of my essays but instead had the prompt as a heading and uploaded the word document as is?

do some research of your college,see what the feature it has,then think about a title

Okay thanks everyone, I think I will definately create a title...

Now I just have to be creative with it... : P

Do application essays get a title and cover page?

I'm finding a lot of mixed results. I'm applying for the radiologic technology program.

These are the only listed requirements:

"Submit a typed or computer generated essay, no greater than 250 words to describe your knowledge of the occupation, reason for choosing the occupation, and a detailed description of what you observed during your clinical observation."

My teacher say you don't need a cover page for application essays. why don't you submit online? however, I found some people put title on their essay.. maybe you can try to ask the people in the admission office.