Types of Essays in College for Students

Types of Essays in College for Students

Writing an essay is a major part of students’ academic experiences for many years. Whether you are a freshman or an advanced student, you will most likely come across various types of essays that you need to write. In this guide, we will explore the different types of essays and discuss their purposes, perspectives, and approaches.

Another common type of essay is the argumentative essay. As the name suggests, this type of essay aims to present a strong argument or viewpoint on a specific topic. The argumentative essay requires the writer to research and analyze different perspectives, supporting their own argument with evidence and logical reasoning. It is important to note that the argumentative essay should not be based solely on personal opinions but should instead rely on facts and credible sources.

The reflective essay is another interesting type of essay that allows students to reflect on their own experiences or express their personal thoughts and feelings. This type of essay is often used in subjects such as psychology, sociology, and literature, where students are encouraged to analyze their own thoughts and experiences. The reflective essay does not follow a strict structure like the expository or argumentative essay, but it still needs to have a clear thesis statement and logical flow.

When writing essays, it is crucial to have a clear purpose and outline before you begin. This will ensure that your essay has a sense of direction and will help you stay focused throughout the writing process. Make sure to link your paragraphs and ideas together using appropriate linking words, such as “however,” “therefore,” or “in addition.” This will help the reader follow your argument or line of thought. It is also important to note that plagiarism is a significant issue in academic writing, so make sure to properly cite any sources you use and avoid copying directly from other texts.

Descriptive Essays

Descriptive essays are a great way to engage the reader and make them feel like they are experiencing the topic firsthand. Through the use of sensory details such as sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, the writer can create a rich and immersive experience for the reader.

When writing a descriptive essay, it is important to choose a topic that you are familiar with and passionate about. This will make it easier for you to provide detailed descriptions and engage the reader. Some common topics for descriptive essays include a favorite childhood memory, a beautiful landscape, a memorable event, or a beloved pet.

To write a descriptive essay, you can follow these step-by-step points:

  • Choose a topic: Select a topic that you wish to describe in detail.
  • Brainstorming: Make a list of all the details, characteristics, and experiences related to the topic.
  • Create an outline: Organize your thoughts and ideas into paragraphs and create a logical structure for your essay.
  • Body paragraphs: Expand on your arguments and provide significant details and examples to support your statements.
  • Linking words: Use linking words and phrases to ensure a smooth flow between paragraphs and ideas.
  • Check for plagiarism: Make sure to cite any sources used and check the overall composition for plagiarism.
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Descriptive essays are different from other types of essays such as narrative or expository essays. While narrative essays tell a story and expository essays explain a topic, descriptive essays focus on providing a vivid description of a subject.

The goal of a descriptive essay is to help the reader understand and visualize the topic through the use of descriptive language and sensory details. By using evidence-based descriptions and appealing to the reader’s senses, a descriptive essay can create a positive effect on the reader.

Overall, writing a descriptive essay can be a rewarding experience. It allows the writer to explore their creativity and develop their writing skills. Whether you are writing a supplemental essay for college applications or simply want to improve your descriptive writing, following the guide and tips provided in this article will help you in making sure your descriptive essays are the best they can be.

Narrative Essays

In the body paragraphs, the writer should present the main events of the story in a structured and logical manner. Each paragraph should focus on a specific event or experience and be connected to the overall theme of the essay. The writer should use descriptive language and vivid details to engage the reader and make the story come alive.

It is important to note that narrative essays are typically written in the first person point of view, using “I” or “we”. This allows the reader to immerse themselves in the story and experience it through the eyes of the writer.

Expository Essays

The main purpose of an expository essay is to provide an in-depth view or analysis of a topic. Unlike other types of essays, such as narrative or descriptive essays, expository essays focus on facts and information rather than personal experiences or opinions.

To begin writing an expository essay, it is important to have a clear thesis statement. This statement should define the main topic or idea that will be discussed throughout the essay. It acts as a roadmap for the reader, guiding them through the essay and ensuring that they have a clear understanding of the main points.

When constructing an expository essay, it is essential to provide evidence and examples to support the arguments and points being made. This can be done through the use of facts, statistics, anecdotes, or other relevant information. Linking words and phrases can also be used to connect ideas and ensure a smooth flow of information.

Expository essays can be classified into four main types:

  • Descriptive: Describes a particular person, place, or object in detail, providing a clear picture for the reader.
  • Process: Explains how to do something or how a particular process works, providing step-by-step instructions.
  • Comparison/Contrast: Analyzes the similarities and differences between two or more subjects, highlighting their individual characteristics.
  • Cause and Effect: Explores the reasons behind a particular event or situation and the resulting consequences.
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As with any type of essay, editing and proofreading are crucial to prevent any errors or inconsistencies. It is important to review the essay multiple times, ensuring that the content flows logically and that the thesis statement is effectively supported throughout the text.

Expository essays are commonly assigned in college, as they help students develop critical thinking and analytical skills. By writing these types of essays, students are likely to expand their knowledge on a range of topics and learn how to present information in a clear and concise manner.

Persuasive Essays

When writing a persuasive essay, the first step is to choose a topic that you feel strongly about and that is likely to ignite a discussion. It could be a controversial issue or a problem that needs a solution. Once you have selected a topic, you need to brainstorm your ideas and develop a clear thesis statement that expresses your main argument.

In the body paragraphs, you should present your arguments and support them with evidence and examples. It is important to consider different perspectives and address counterarguments to strengthen your position. Use techniques such as persuasive language, logical reasoning, and emotional appeals to make your arguments more persuasive.

To make your persuasive essay more effective, it is crucial to organize your thoughts and ideas in a logical and coherent manner. Use transitional words and sentences to create smooth transitions between paragraphs and guide the reader through your essay. You can also use tables, graphs, and other visual aids to present your data and statistics.

After completing your essay, take the time to revise and edit it. Check for grammar and spelling mistakes, and ensure that your sentences and paragraphs flow well. Pay attention to the overall structure and organization of your persuasive essay, and make any necessary changes to enhance its clarity and persuasiveness.

Argumentative Essays

Main Body

The main body of the argumentative essay consists of several paragraphs that present the writer’s arguments and provide supporting evidence. Each paragraph should focus on a single point and be structured in a logical and coherent manner. To make the essay more persuasive, the writer can include facts, statistics, examples, and expert opinions. It’s important to use credible sources and properly cite them to avoid plagiarism.


In an argumentative essay, it’s important to address counterarguments and refute them with strong evidence. This shows that the writer has considered different perspectives and strengthens their position. By acknowledging and refuting counterarguments, the writer can further solidify their argument and make it more convincing.

Writing Techniques

When writing an argumentative essay, there are several techniques that can help make the essay more persuasive:

  1. Use rhetorical questions to engage the reader and make them think.
  2. Provide real-life examples and personal experiences to make the essay more relatable.
  3. Use strong, clear, and concise language to convey the writer’s point of view.
  4. Employ cause and effect reasoning to show the consequences of accepting or rejecting the writer’s argument.
  5. Use logical appeals based on facts and evidence to support the writer’s position.
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Argumentative essays are a common type of essay in college and high school. By following the above guidelines and techniques, students can write structured and persuasive argumentative essays. Remember to choose a topic you’re interested in and take a stance that you believe in, as this will make the writing process more enjoyable and the essay more compelling.


What are the four main types of essays in college?

The four main types of essays in college are descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive essays.

What is a descriptive essay?

A descriptive essay is an essay that describes a person, place, object, or event in detail. It appeals to the senses and provides vivid sensory details to create a clear image in the reader’s mind.

What is a persuasive essay?

A persuasive essay is an essay that aims to convince the reader to adopt a particular point of view or take a specific action. It presents arguments and supporting evidence to persuade the reader and often includes a call to action.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.