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The Power of Persuasion

January 20, 2015 - Posted to Study

Content 8

There is an old saying: “A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

What this means is that, when an opinion is “forced” upon another, that person’s opinion has not really changed. “Forcing” an opinion is more the ilk of argumentative essays and debates, because the writer or speaker “comes out of the chute” ready for battle – pressing his/her own point and trying to annihilate the points of the opposition. No one really changes his/her mind. (think political debates).

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Persuasive Essays or Speeches are Quite Different

Such writing or speaking does, in fact, take a side, but the voice and the pen are softer; you take a side and promote your side calmly, with facts to back you up. No loud anger or attack of the other side is performed, no matter how passionate you may be about the topic.

Topics for persuasive essays pop up all the time, and professors like assigning them (probably because they have TA’s to read and grades them), but there is scholarly reason for students crafting good persuasive arguments – you never know when you might need to use this skill!

Topics for a persuasive essay can be assigned in virtually every course you take – certainly in English comp, really often in the social sciences, pretty commonly in fine arts, and periodically in the hard sciences (I even had one assigned in a college algebra class!).

When the professor assigns the topic, you are stuck, because you have to write about something you may not be that passionate about (yes, I ended this sentence with a preposition, but I’m not in English class). More often, however, a professor may simply tell students to pick topics for persuasive essays that fall within the content of the course.

Okay! Now you have some choice and can at least pick a topic about which you have an opinion – so much better!

Coming up with the best topic, however, may elude some of you, and I have decided, therefore to help you out a bit.

Here is a short list that might spark some interest.

Great Persuasive Essay Topics

  • Recycling should be legally mandated
  • Gun ownership should (should not) be more tightly controlled
  • Annual driving tests should be given to everyone over 65
  • Smokers should pay a healthcare tax
  • Those who do not pay child support should go to jail
  • The current pay for athletes shows how our priorities are out of whack
  • Lobbyists should be banned
  • Experimentation on animals should be outlawed
  • There should be limits on biogenetic engineering
  • Terminally ill patients should be allowed to engage in assisted suicide
  • Marijuana should (should not) be legalized
  • Healthcare is a right not a privilege
  • If the Middle East grew broccoli, we wouldn’t be there
  • Technology has replaced the need for students to memorize math facts
  • Environmental science should be required in every high school curriculum
  • The “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision has ruined our democracy
  • “Trickle-Down” economics is a myth
  • Failure to invest more in education will turn us into a 2nd rate power
  • “Water Wars” are in our future
  • The Electoral College is a “dinosaur”

If you cannot find a topic to fit a course assignment, or if you are not excited about any of these, here are some more for you! (Wow – you’re hard to please).


College Persuasive Essay Topics

I am not “running out of steam” yet, so let me list some persuasive essay topics college professors will probably like:

  • Foods with GMO’s should be labeled
  • Reducing consumption of meat is crucial for health and for the environment
  • Oil and farm subsidies are “breaking our bank”
  • Public school curriculum is culturally biased
  • Personal finance education should be mandatory
  • Drug abusers should be sent to special facilities focused on addiction rather than to prisons
  • There should be term limits on Congressional seats
  • Social Security is not an “entitlement”
  • All plastic should be banned
  • Funding for research and development will keep our country in its world leadership role
  • Marriage equality should be legislated nationally
  • Intelligent design should (should not) be taught along with evolution
  • The Ebola epidemic in West Africa will impact our economy if we do not curb it
  • Online learning is not for everyone
  • Gen. Ed. requirements in college waste our time (don’t choose this topic for a gen. ed. course)
  • The “militarization” of our local police is dangerous
  • Drug testing for welfare recipients should be mandatory
  • We should have a national ID card for voting, and it should be free
  • Wall Street is rigged

Now, this should be enough, right?

Persuasive essay topics for college are probably infinite, though, so there will always be new ones as our society evolves.

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topics for a persuasive essay

But what about speeches?

Yes, you may have to give persuasive speeches, because professors get to sit down and grade you while you perform! So, let’s add to the list a bit more:

College Persuasive Speech Topics

While any of the above topics will work, I can add more persuasive topics for college oral presentations, so here goes:

  • Veterans should be guaranteed a free college education
  • Corporate welfare is real
  • Raising the national minimum wage will (will not) kill jobs
  • Libertarianism taken to extreme results in chaos
  • Men should not be allowed to participate in women’s health care legislation
  • Taxing corporations that outsource will kill jobs here
  • A “use” tax is more just
  • NASA’s  budget should be restored
  • Congress should participate in social security
  • Special funding for schools in poor neighborhoods will reduce dropout rates and gang membership
  • Home ownership is no longer a part of the American dream

Well, now I am getting a bit tapped out. But…you don’t have to be.

You can find great lists for persuasive topics for college essays and speeches online – Most will have a list of 100 topics. But, like the Dalmatians’ movie, I like the idea of 101 persuasive essay topics, so I’ll give you one more – Privatizing our prisons has only increased our costs.

Now, I am truly finished!


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