How do I choose a topic for a personal essay?

Narrative and personal essays (such as college application essays) require a main or controlling idea to help you focus and direct your writing. For example, consider this topic: Describe an incident in your life that caused you to change an opinion or attitude. Before you begin writing, create a sentence that will both identify the incident you plan to narrate and describe the change it caused. Below are some examples of main idea statements.
The divorce of my parents when I was seven changed my view that adults were infallible and always in control of their own lives.
When I was six, my cat Edward died, and I began to mistrust the reassurances of doctors, a mistrust that has remained with me ever since.
Changing high schools when I was fifteen made me realize for the first time that the fear of an experience is often worse than the reality.

When you write your paper, you may decide to suggest your main idea indirectly rather than state it. But making yourself create a statement is still a good idea.