Essay 3


Length 6–7pg., double-spaced.

The third essay assignment is "open topic" and enables you to continue to craft narratives drawn from your own experience. These stories may follow from your previous writing (e.g., exercise 1, a "backstory" to Essay 1 and / or 2) or may focus on completely different experiences or themes. Your essay should explore an experience that speaks to a wider audience through reflecting on common human concerns (e.g., the value of friendship, confronting failure or dealing with mourning), MIT-specific experiences and issues (e.g., adapting to college life, dealing with relationships, stress, deciding on majors / career) or larger social issues (e.g., community service, world hunger).

As you craft the essay, consider various options in narration discussed in class:

  • Using dialogue together with interior monologue.
  • Narrating some of your past experience in present tense to give a greater sense of immediacy.
  • Employing techniques such as "day-in-the-life" or "the things they carried".
  • Including parts of actual or retrospective diaries, letters, text messages, etc.
  • Using "artifacts of the self" and "self-evidence"—such as treasured personal objects and clothing, favorite music, books, poems, movies, "to-do", grocery and shopping lists, credit card bills, phone records, transcripts—to help you tell parts of your story.
  • Crafting your essay as a letter. (Think of the letter as using "dual address", written to a person/group –could be yourself—but simultaneously engaging a wider public.)


  • Include photos, videos or other visual supplements to your essay.
  • Conduct an interview for your essay.


Intro / Proposal – Due Session 18

Write two paragraphs: a one-paragraph plan / proposal for your essay (describing experience and theme) and one paragraph from the essay (it can be the introduction, but it need not be).

Bring four copies to class.

Draft 1 – Due between sessions 19 and 20 (at least four pages) with a cover letter.

Workshop – Session 20

Essay 3 workshop instructions (PDF)

Bring marked-up essays and copies of reviews.

Revision – Due Session 26