Last year I worked with a student who put his heart and soul into the telling of a powerful family story about survival. It was very moving, and he wrote it beautifully.
However, there was a problem to-be-solved: the main focus of the essay was on his family, and not on him.
In the next draft, I asked him to get clear on the thesis. After thinking about it, he considered a few options. For example, his family inspired him to lead others to better themselves. They also taught him to overcome his fear of failure.
Once he drilled down on the core idea, his ideas started to flow. He restructured the essay to demonstrate how the story shaped his own identity as a young man.
Whenever a college essay prompt invites you to tell a story, remember: you are the protagonist who undergoes a transformation.