A process essay, sometimes called process analysis, involves describing an activity in a series of steps. You might also think of it as a how-to essay. College writing classes will often require you to write a process essay. As with all essay writing, the toughest part is getting started. While you can look all over for a good process essay topic before finding one, it is a good idea to brainstorm if you are really stuck.
One broad category of ideas for a process essay is to describe how a piece of technology works. You can choose something complex, such as a computer, or something more rudimentary, such as a light bulb. Taking on this kind of topic might require you to do some research. Alternatively, you can choose a scientific process that lends itself well to being broken down into steps. Examples include photosynthesis, the water cycle and metamorphosis.
Some college students prefer to write process essays about lifestyle topics, which lend themselves to both serious and humorous essays. On the more serious side, consider a topic like "How to raise a happy child" or "How to keep your friends happy." For more humorous topics, you might choose to write about "How to go on the worst date ever." Even for humorous topics, make sure to carefully detail the steps involved. Your college instructor will be more concerned about your explanation of the topic than of the seriousness of the content.
Hobbies lend themselves well to process essays because they allow you to draw on your own experiences. If there is a particular sport you enjoy, write a process essay explaining some aspect of that sport, such as "How to throw a curve ball" or "How to skate properly." You can write an essay that is more detailed by choosing a more specific topic, such as a breakdown of how to win your favorite video game.
As a college student, you probably know something about how to study or how to accomplish any number of college-related tasks. Draw on this expertise as you search for a topic. You can choose something more technical, such as "How to study for a test." Alternatively, you can give other kinds of practical advice to other college students. Examples include "How to find the best food on campus" and "How to have fun and get good marks at the same time."
David Coodin began working as a writer in 2005, and has been published in "The Walrus." He contributes to various websites, writing primarily in the areas of education and art. Coodin holds a Ph.D. in English literature from York University in Toronto.