An essay is the most common form of writing students encounter in college. These short papers challenge students to analyze perspectives about a topic. During a college career, a student can expect to encounter different kinds of essays. Indeed, a professor of English might require one type of essay while a professor of sociology prefers another kind. These different types are known as genres.
This section provides a review of the common essay genres, such as personal narrative, compare/contrast, argumentative, research, and process analysis. Other essay genres are less common, but might occasionally be assigned. These include process analysis, epistolary, ethnographic, and collaborative.