1) Choosing a Debatable Topic
Because an argumentative essay attempts to change the way people think, it must focus on a debatable topic, one about which reasonable people may disagree. Factual statements—verifiable assertions about which reasonable people do not disagree—are, therefore, not suitable as topics for argument.
Fact: First-year students are not required to purchase a meal plan from the university.
Debatable Topic: First-year students should be required to purchase a meal plan from the university.
Your topic should be narrow enough so that you can write about it within your page limit. Remember, in your argumentative essay, you will have to develop your own ideas and present convincing support while also pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of opposing arguments. If your topic is too broad, you will not be able to treat it in enough detail.
In addition, your topic should be interesting to you and to your readers. Keep in mind that some topics—such as “The Need for Gun Control” or “The Fairness of the Death Penalty”—have been discussed and written about so often that you may not be able to say anything new or interesting about them. Instead of relying on an overused topic, choose one that enables you to contribute something to the debate.