A college essay goes by many names: paper, research paper, essay, theme. Most of these names refer to a piece of writing in which you offer your own idea about a topic. This concept is really important. The purpose of most college essay writing assignments is not for you to find and directly report the information you find. Instead, it’s to think about the information you find, come up with your own idea or assertion about your topic, and then provide support that shows why you think that way.
Another thing to remember about a college essay is that, in most cases, a writing process is emphasized. Following a thorough writing process, like the one described for you here, in The Writing Process area of the OWL, will lead you to a better product. Although you may have some timed writings in college, most of your college essays will involve a writing process. When you use a strong writing process, you’re working to create your very best work!
The video below shows real students from a college writing class talking about writing for college and what they learned from taking a college writing class.