College essays are about balanced tension. They are about winding ribbons of themes and extended metaphors unraveling to dance freely in the wind. College essays are about soul crushing failures and soaring successes. They are the truth tidied.
Narrative is the formal structure given to this genre, but the structure itself is not rigid or formulaic. Narrative asks the writer to breathe life into words and allow the form to mold about experience.
In a nutshell, narrative is free but not chaos.
Here are some great examples of narrative essays:
Joan Didion from Blue Nights
George Orwell On Shooting an Elephant
E.B. White Once More to the Lake
Identify exigency and purpose
Analyze tone and mood
Find a prompt/supplemental essays you want to grapple and work with this week.