I spent the last couple of weeks worrying about essays (and about a couple of days actually writing the damn things). It was quite an ordeal, for me at least, the sociopath that will avoid doing what she has to do until way beyond the last moment.
It's amazing how I can turn from being branded a polymath wunderkind one second to unreliable problem child the next... Where essays are involved I can only blame one thing for this phenomenon, however: They're tragically stupid.
You get a topic you may or may not care about, you get a word limit and a set amount of issues you need to cover in it, and even need to reference the popculturally obvious. You need to write something you could say in a sentence to someone smart or informed enough, and expand it to 1500 words, or have 2000 words in which to cover something you could talk or write about in hours. And all this according to formal academic conventions, in a subject where you have discovered more than they give you credit for during the rest of your life, or regarding an issue which you already have set opinions about - and possibly even know how little you care about it, even if you know what there is to know and "it has affected what you like now in a way" - and show that you've been a good enough student and read what you never needed to read in the first place.