Essay III - Eng 204

How high school made me a better writer
As an individual, I would consider myself to be an extremely scientific person;
my brain tends to work better with numbers rather than words, so you can guess that
English is not my best subject. One of the worst experiences I have had in writing was
during my high school years, in eleventh grade to be more specific. I decided to take two
advanced English courses in order to acquire college credits. At first, I was very excited
to have been qualified to take college level courses, but as I moved further throughout the
course, I realized what a mess I had put myself into. I was barely passing, and if it
weren’t for the school’s generosity for giving us a minimum grade of 85 for taking an
advanced course, I am 100% certain I would have failed miserably.
My teacher was a young and very easy-going kind of person who joked around
with us in class and made it somewhat enjoyable. However, when it came to assignments
and exams, her comments and grading were brutal, and being the kind of person who
does not respond well to negative criticism, I did not take it very well. I was constantly
unmotivated and reluctant to work and so I was writing essays with the least amount of
effort I could possibly exert.
I will begin talking about the first course: English Literature. I rather enjoyed that
class and the discussions that took place as well as the liberty everyone displayed since
literature was all about freedom of expression. However, after a few weeks of analyzing
poetry, our teacher switched to “The Great Gatsby” as the main focus of the course. She
was so determined to make us understand and perfectly analyze every little idea of the
book. After the first dozen essays or so, everyone became bored and very frustrated, and
the essays were just constantly repetitive. Still convinced that we were going to get it
right, our teacher continued to give us essay assignments. At one point, I became
absolutely frustrated to the extent where I had nothing to write anymore; my ideas about
“The American Dream” had completely exhausted, so for one of the assignments, I
decided to copy an analysis from SparkNotes, foolishly thinking that my teacher probably
wouldn’t recognize what I had done. When I got my essay back, I thank the heavens our
teacher had been absent from class that day; my paper had nothing but a yellow sticky
note on it saying: “Please come see me.” Without thinking, I ripped the note off and
prayed so hard that she would forget about it, and with my luck she did. I was quite
relieved, but that didn’t mean I put any more effort into my writing, and so the negative
comments didn’t stop either. After I submitted another essay that I filled with my
incredibly large handwriting and paragraph-long quotes, she confronted me and said that
I should be putting more effort in my writing if I wanted to remain in the course. I felt so
ashamed, as if I had committed a crime in the literature world or something, and so I
decided to give it one last shot; and I did. My next assignment was highly praised by my
teacher to the entire class; I had never felt more proud of my writing abilities, and from
then on I was encouraged and motivated for the rest of my writing assignments. I gave a
bit more thought, time, and effort, and because of that I did not face any more problems
with this course; I absolutely loved it.
Literature was a bit more fluid for me than the second course, which was AP
English Composition and Writing. In literature, there was no right or wrong answer, but
this course was more serious and had certain principles and rules. I faced many
difficulties with this course and did not enjoy it at all. I would sit in class, dumbstruck,
listening to everyone participate and discuss ideas and words that I had never heard of. I
was literally unable to speak; I tried so hard to add to the class discussion, but with no
avail. I could not figure out how to convey my ideas in the complicated, big-worded
manner that everyone was using. I would sit hours upon hours, with a blank page in front
of me, trying to compose a decent essay. Eventually, I would barely manage to write a
300 word essay, but using a very basic style of writing. I was clearly not up to standards
for the course, but I continued to try. I listened more, thought more thoroughly, and little
by little I started to get the flow. By the end of the year, I considered myself to be a
survivor for making it through the course. Although, I never really liked or enjoyed the
course, I was pleased with the changes it made in me; I learned to think in a smarter way,
read between the lines so as to understand the text in a better way, and write more
I faced many obstacles with those courses, but overcoming them brought out the
potential I had for writing; overall, it made a better writer and helped me discover my
abilities. While up to this day, writing is still not my greatest strength, I am better than I
was before and do not face any more difficulty with it; I have an advantage at my side
that has helped me a great deal with many different courses and I owe that all to the
hardships that I was able to resist.