Topic: In this essay, you’ll write a personal narrative (a story about something significant that happened to you). Your essay must be persuasive, showing what you learned from your experience and how. That means you can't just tell an interesting story and then plop a moral on at the end. State in your introduction what you learned from the experience. Then, as you relate the events in your narrative, explain how they produced this change or new insight in you.
The “problem” your essay will solve: After living a long and satisfying life, you arrive at the Pearly Gates, ready to be welcomed onto the streets of gold. Unfortunately, St. Peter hasn't gotten the memo about what a sterling citizen you've been your whole life. (In fact, the rules for entry seem a little different from what your childhood Sunday school teacher led you to expect.) Saint Peter doubts whether you've done anything interesting your whole life long, and wants proof that you learned from your time on earth. He doesn't have time to listen to any long-winded explanations, either. He sends you down the hall to write a narrative essay about one significant experience you had in life and how that experience changed you. What story will you tell? (The problem is imaginary, but your answer should be real: write about something that really has happened to you.)
Tips: Write so readers can vividly relive the experience and learn something about you and themselves. Be passionate. Include characters. Create memorable descriptions.
Audience: You’re trying to convince St. Peter, but since none of us has met him personally, it may help to write as if you were addressing students who are less familiar with your experience than you are, college-level adults who can be challenged a little by your material.
Format: Use one inch margins and 11 point font. You are not required to refer to any outside sources (the writing, words, or ideas of other people) in this essay, but if you do you must cite them in MLA format: put a Works Cited list at the end of the essay, and put the author's name and the page number (if applicable) in the text after you quote, paraphrase, or summarize someone else's words or ideas. There are no minimum or maximum number of pages for the assignment--just write as much as you need to in order to make it a good essay.
Peer/Instructor: When the peer draft is due, bring a first draft of the essay to class to use in peer review. When the instructor draft is due, bring in the final draft of the essay for me to read, respond to, and grade. You must attach your peer draft and any peer review you've received; anything that led up to the final product.
Grade Weight: This essay is worth 12% of your final grade for the class, (in the Blackboard Gradebook, 125 points toward the total 1000 possible for the course).
Important: Your essay must have a clear claim/thesis statement.
Topic suggestions: You can choose any significant experience that you can show you learned from. If you need help thinking of possible subjects, try these areas suggested by Randall VanderMey in the text The College Writer:
Initiation: Think of a time when you had to prove yourself, test your abilities, or “grow up.” Share this test with your reader.
Loss: Explore a time when you lost something or someone important to you.
Run-in: Consider a time when you had an unavoidable confrontation with someone else. How did you react to the situation? What did you learn about yourself?
Arrival: Recall when you were the new kid on the block or in school. How did the experience change your life? Or remember when someone new arrived in your life. How did this person affect you?
Occasion: Focus on a revealing get-together, celebration, holiday, party or vacation experience. What did you learn form the experience?