A reflective essay calls on the writer to express your own views of an experience.
Sometimes, reflective writing will ask you to think more deeply about a book, movie, musical work, or piece of art. Other times, the topics will invite you to reflect on a personal encounter or other experience.
These four reflective essay prompts for high school students are more personal in nature. For your essay, choose a topic that speaks to you the most.
1. The Wind Beneath My Wings
A role model is a person you look up to—someone you respect or admire more than anyone else. Who is your role model?Your grandpa? Youth pastor? Coach? What have you learned from this person? Which of their character qualities or traits do you hope to one day have yourself? Write an essay explaining how this individual has influenced who you are today.
2. Can I Get a Do-Over?
By the time you reach high school, you have already experienced some of life’s ups and downs. You’ve seized some great opportunities and turned your back on others. Though you’ve made good choices, you have also made poor ones. You’ve both rejected and heeded good advice. Looking back, surely there are things you wish you had done differently. Write an essay sharing your most important piece of advice with a younger sibling or friend.
3. The Time of My Life
Have you lived or traveled overseas? Held an interesting or unusual job? Participated in a sport that challenged you physically and mentally? Think about an unusual experience or incident from your life. Write a reflective essay explaining how that experience has impacted you and caused you to grow as a person.
4. Picking Yourself Up
No one is immune to failure—scientists, authors, athletes, surgeons, and great leaders can all recount times of falling flat on their faces. Describe a time when you failed at something, and write a short essay explaining what you learned from this experience.
If you enjoyed these reflective essay topics for high school, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays! Once a month, we feature topics especially suited for teens, such as:
Compare and Contrast Essay Prompts
Persuasive Essay Prompts
Expository Essay Topics
Here are 20 questions to help you and your students reflect on the school year. You could use these informally for discussion when you have a few minutes, or, for a more personal reflection experience, take a few of your favorites to use for a survey or as writing/journal prompts. There is also a list of reflection questions for teachers here.
- What is something we did this year that you think you will remember for the rest of your life?
- What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
- What was the nicest thing someone in our class did for you this year?
- What was the most challenging part of this year for you?
- Where is your favorite place in our classroom (or school)? Why?
- If you could change one thing that happened this year, what would it be?
- What are three things you did this year to help your classmates?
- What are the three most important things you learned this year?
- What is something that was hard for you at the start of the year but is easy now?
- In what area do you feel you made your biggest improvements?
- What is your favorite part of the day in our class? Why?
- What is something you taught your teacher or classmates this year?
- Of the books you read this year, which was your favorite? Why?
- What was the best piece of writing that you did this year? Why do you think it is your best?
- What person at our school has made the biggest impact in your life this year? Why?
- What is something the teacher could have done to make this year better?
- What are six adjectives that best describe this school year?
- Knowing what you know now, if you could write a letter to yourself that would travel back in time so that you would receive it at the start of the school year, what advice would you give your younger self?
- When you consider the rest of your life, what percentage of what you learned this year do you think will be useful to you?
- What advice would you give students who will be in this class next year?
Looking for more open-ended questions to ask your students?You can find 200 of them in easy-to-use card format right here.
Have more to add? Please share with a comment!