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What Is an Essay?

By Janice Alonso

A Solid Foundation Is Essential: Article Three

An essay is “a short literary composition on a single subject usually presenting a personal view of the author” (The American Heritage College Dictionary). Remember the first day of English Literature class when you were in middle and high school? Did your teacher ask you to write the stereotypical assignment, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation?” It was the popular topic for the first writing sample when I was in school, and perhaps it still is. That paper was most likely your first time your wrote an essay. I, too, used this topic as a measuring device when I was a teacher, and I used it for two reasons. First, everyone did something during June, July, and August. Second, this initial assignment showed me where the class as a whole, and each student in particular, was in his/her writing experience.

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