You have spent the last couple of years in a committed relationship—with writing. Love them or hate them, essays have been by you through thick and thin.
So when you walk into class and your professor says you’re going to do something new today, your heart starts beating faster, and it feels like there are butterflies in your stomach.
Then, your instructor pops the question—”Will you write a proposal essay?”
You might not think you’re ready to take the plunge into proposal essays just yet, but don’t get cold feet! This type of essay can be super easy (and also pretty fun) to write.
All you need is the right topic.
The right topic involves planning, research, and passion. Below, I’ll show you how to choose the right topic and give you some example proposal essay topics that you can either use as-is or use as inspiration to come up with your own topic.
But First, What Is a Proposal Essay?
Before you try to find that perfect topic from the sea of potential proposal essay topics (and certainly before you try to write one), it’s important to understand exactly what a proposal essay is.
Simply put, a proposal essay identifies a problem and suggests a solution to that problem. It’s a type of argumentative essay, but with a slightly different format and more research.
Proposal essays are common in business and science classes and professions, but are also useful for a number of different disciplines.
Typically, these types of essays are not a timed, in-class writing assignment where you’re trying to beat the clock. Instead, they require more time and research in order to formulate arguments and find supporting evidence.
Ultimately, your goal is to persuade the reader that your proposal is not only viable, but one worth pursuing. For a more in-depth overview, check out this awesome SlideShare.
What to Consider When Selecting Proposal Essay Topics
The number of different proposal essay topics out there is pretty vast, so naturally, the essays themselves will differ. However, here are a few common components (and some dos and don’ts!) to consider when you’re narrowing down proposal essay topics to find the perfect match.
Choose something that interests you
For many types of essays, you can fake it till you make it. But for proposal essays, it will be a huge advantage for you to select a topic you actually care about. You’re most likely going to be spending a significant portion of time researching and writing this essay.
It’ll be much more enjoyable if you have some passion for the subject matter. Your reader will be able to tell too. Passion comes through in writing—picking a proposal essay topic that’s interesting to you makes your essay more interesting to the reader.
DON’T: Write about how to get your hair untangled or an effective way to clean a litter box. These topics are boring—and much too simple.
DO: Write about something that could influence you or someone you know. If you have siblings in grade school, write about education. For example, how can children get a good physical education in elementary school?
Choose a proposal essay topic that has support
As I said before, you’re going to be doing a lot of research in order to write your essay properly, so it helps if the topic already has existing literature.
Choosing a proposal essay topic that has both supporting and dissenting research is usually best. Then you can choose which side of the argument you want to tackle.
DON’T: Write about something that’s purely opinion with no facts to back it up. For example, how to make the most out of your Saturday afternoon is not a good topic (although we all know it’s sleeping in and watching cartoons).
DO: Choose a topic with some big, juicy facts you can sink your teeth into. For example, how to fund more educational television like Sesame Street, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and the Magic School Bus is a topic where you can still talk about television, but in a structured, fact-based way.
Bonus Tip: When you’re researching, make sure to take good notes. Include the bibliographic information and the page number you found the information on. This will make citations much easier, especially if you’re referencing books and articles from the library.
Pick something that’s actually an argument
Because proposal essays are a type of argumentative essay, you want to be sure the essay is worthy of an argument. Choosing a topic that is too one-sided is, frankly, really boring and doesn’t serve your purpose well.
When writing your essay, you’ll want to address opposing viewpoints. That way you can present a well-rounded proposal. This lets your reader know you have considered all sides of a given topic and have constructed the best proposal given all the variables at work.
You’ll be able to tell if an argument has one side because you won’t actually be able to write a proposal essay about it. It would turn into either a process essay or an argumentative essay (and not a very good one, at that).
DON’T: Choose something like how to make a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. Sure, everyone has a slightly different way of doing it, but it turns into a process essay, not a proposal. Plus, I don’t think choosing between different grilled cheese methods really counts as a problem that needs a proposed solution.
DO: Pick something like the ways that farmers and corporations improve the lives of dairy cows. That’s a problem that needs a solution—and it’s a much better topic for your proposal essay.
Consider your audience
Remember, proposal essays serve a purpose outside of academia. So even if you’re writing this for a class and only your teacher will see it, pretend like there’s a more realistic reader who will be deciding whether your proposal is worth investing time and resources into.
Understanding your audience not only makes the writing process easier, but also helps you choose the right topic from the many possible proposal essay topics.
DON’T: Choose a topic with an audience you’re not comfortable with. For example, if your audience is a group of academics but you’re terrible at academic writing, it might be best to choose a different topic.
DO: Pick a topic that has an audience you can relate to. For instance, if you’re passionate about and good at writing about social issues, and your audience is a group of volunteer workers, choosing a proposal essay topic about society might be in your best interest.
24 Proposal Essay Topics That Are Easy and Fun to Write
Now that you have an idea about what a proposal essay is and how to choose the right topic to write your own essay, here are some examples of proposal essay topics.
You can write about these topics as-is, modify them, or simply use them to get you in the right mindset to come up with your own topic.
1. What can be done to create a more well-rounded curriculum for middle and high school students.
2. How can teachers improve sex education courses?
3. In what ways can foreign language courses be improved?
4. How should students be graded?
5. How can the government better handle illegal immigration?
6. What should be done to lower the national debt?
7. What could be done to make the electoral system more effective?
8. How can the government make programs such as welfare, Medicaid, and Social Security more effective?
9. How can parents raise their children to have a sense of humility as opposed to entitlement?
10. What is the most effective way to discipline a child?
11. How can parents encourage their children to be more active in extracurriculars?
12. What is the most effective way for parents to teach their children about money?
13. What can the average person do to combat global climate change? What can the government do?
14. What should be done to increase the funding for cancer research?
15. How can parents, teachers, and society at large encourage more children to pursue an education in science?
16. How can educational television shows about science receive more funding and airtime?
17, In what ways can we reduce childhood obesity?
18. How can the government or society as a whole reduce homelessness in the United States?
19. What would be an effective program to curb illegal drug use?
20. How can we promote more tolerant behavior within US society?
21. How can people reduce their reliance on technology?
22. How can parents and teachers effectively help eliminate cyberbullying?
23. How should children be taught about responsible Internet use?
24. In what ways can companies and consumers keep sensitive information more secure online?
Hopefully, one of these proposal essay topics catches your eye. If not, feel free to make up your own topic based off something you care about solving.
Did you notice that most of the topics listed above start with “How can … ” and “In what way … ”? Let these words guide your own topic selection if you don’t choose one of the above examples. These phrases will lead you to a great proposal essay.
If you choose a topic, write about it, and are left wondering if it’s any good, send it to one of the Kibin editors. We will review your essay and give you suggestions on how to strengthen your argument.
Good luck with your proposal!
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Your approach to each essay will depend on what type of prompt is being asked. Be aware that not all essay prompts are the same, which means that sometimes your preferred essay structure simply won’t suit the type of prompt asked. This month we look at 5 types of essay topics – what you should watch out for and how you could approach your essay writing. The topics used in this blog post have been gathered from the VCAA English past exams.
1. Character-based prompts :
Cosi is more than an entertaining comedy. It reveals the sadness of the lives of the characters. Discuss. (Cosi, Louis Nowra)
These prompts focus on one or more characters. In this case, you would most likely structure your essay paragraphs based on particular characters or something in common with a set of characters. Essays can become quite repetitive if each paragraph is based around one character so try to add in discussion about themes or the character’s relationships with other characters. Remember that minor characters can be just as important as major characters.
2. Theme-based prompts :
To what extent is love an escape from the horrors of war in A Farewell to Arms? (A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway)
Usually your paragraphs will be based around particular themes. For example in this case, paragraphs may be based on ‘love’, ‘escape’, ‘horrors of war’ etc. These paragraphs can have character discussions embedded within them in order to demonstrate how the characters represent each theme. Discussion of the author’s choice of language such as symbols or imagery can be essential to the analysis of a theme.
3. Quote prompts :
Terry says to Charley: “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum. Which is what I am”. Does the film support Terry’s judgment of himself? (On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan)
These prompts can be character- or theme-based. However, it differs from other essay topics because it includes a direct quote from the text. Remember that the quote is part of the prompt, so ensure that you address it. One of the best ways of doing so is to incoporate the quote into the essay itself.
4. Question prompts :
To what extent does Pi’s imagination help him in his quest to survive both physically and emotionally. (Life of Pi, Yann Martel)
These prompts are usually structured, ‘how does the character do this.’ Since it is often focused on one main character, your essay will be rather monotonous. Try to weave in the main character’s interactions with other characters and how other characters influenced them.
5. Analysis prompts :
In her foreword to this collection of poems, Judith Wright states: “I think poetry should be treated…as a way of seeing and expressing not just the personal view, but the whole context of the writer’s times”. How does her own poetry reflect this? (A Human Pattern – Selected Poems, Judith Wright)
Analysis prompts are the rarest of the 5 prompts but don’t be suprised if you’re asked one. They focus more on the language part of the text; rather than the plot, themes or characters. Your discussion will revolve around the author’s use of language (metaphors, prose, syntax etc.). These discussions are typically viewed as ‘harder’ prompts because you need to think about how the author achieves a particular message about character or theme through their choice of words. Check out our blog post on metalanguage and what you need to look out for.