AP Lit teachers need to teach the personal narrative essays with the seniors

Jackson Rickert, Editor-In-Chief

This year, AP-Lit teachers decided not to teach how to write narrative essays for our college applications. In previous years, this was something that had always been taught and that the senior English classes would continue to do. But at the beginning of the year, my class was told that we wouldn’t this year, that they figured we already had them written and that it wouldn’t be a good use of our time to go over them. As far as I’m concerned, this was far from the truth. 

The thing is, and maybe I’m an outlier, but I hadn’t written my narrative essay yet. In fact, I didn’t really know where to start. After a year of digital learning, I already felt behind in my application process, and now, because we are an AP class, we were assumed to be ahead in our applications. To be fair, my teacher was offering an opportunity during support seminar to get help with our essays, and between that, my parents, my counselor and my teachers, there were plenty of resources to help me out. But for me, there’s something different about being taught something as a class. There’s a sort of obligation to go over the bare essentials and expectations, not just to get feedback on what you’ve done so far. And besides, having other people there learning with you makes it easier to ask questions and gauge your own understanding. But perhaps most importantly, it says, “This is important. We want to make sure you know this.” Even with all the external help I got writing my essay, I always felt like I was missing a bit of context and overall knowledge on what it actually was that I was writing, even when I had a draft that worked.

I also think that the expectation that AP-Lit students have already figured out their applications because they’re in an advanced class is unfair. With how common it is for students to take AP classes here, enrollment in one shouldn’t bar the class from getting basic instruction on certain elements of the college application. 

Now, I don’t in any way want to blame the AP-Lit teachers. Between the countless readings, essays and discussions we do, let alone actually running the class, I know they’re plenty busy. I’m sure that by not covering the narrative, they probably genuinely thought our class time could be better used. However, I think it’s more than worth it to take a period or two to go over the essentials of a good college essay, not only because some people might not have already written theirs, but also so that those who have can make sure that they’ve done it right. 

I know that even once I had written my essay, I had to start over a few times because I didn’t fully understand what it was I was supposed to be writing. A bit of instruction would have not only helped me get a better grasp on what I was supposed to do, would have been a great help towards understanding how to apply to college.

My hope is that the AP-Lit teachers read this and consider returning to teach the personal narrative. While it might seem insignificant when compared to some of the other things we learn in class, the narrative essay is critical to college applications, and I think that future classes would greatly benefit from a little more formal instruction.