The quest for a thesis forms the center of much instruction in academic writing. Professors demand it; students find it as elusive or mystifying as Benjamin Braddock found his future (“plastics”). Despite these struggles, the thesis-driven essay has typically been seen as central to academic writing. Some faculty, in recent years, have been moving further away from this type of writing or exclusively assigning this type of writing. The essay, as genre, did not start this way; in fact, in its original forms pioneered by Montaigne in the 16th century, it tended towards being experimental and some times, as in Montaigne’s--as the origins of the word suggest--a try at something or sometimes just plain full of tangents. The focus of this gathering is to debate the relative merits of this kind of writing for our student, as well as to discuss some other forms of essay that might also have important roles to play within the academic setting (and perhaps beyond).