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Common App main essay: 'Paradoxical Christian'

cupnoodle123 15 / 52  
Dec 18, 2011   #1
Hi, can you guys give me feedback on my essay, because I'm pretty at a loss of what to think of it,
I'm mainly emphasizing church as a huge influence in my life as I've grown up, and kind of want to show how church made me engaged in lots of activities; it wasn't just a religious duty like sitting through preaching and stuff...

Thanks :)

A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

Or maybe I should have it fall under this prompt:

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.


It was ironic, that though I loved my church and half my identity was formed there, the term I was most uncomfortable with being labeled was "Christian." Because it seemed like it was painted one color, a word too opaque to reveal how dynamic was my faith in my life and how colorful it really made it. Outside church, I almost hated terming myself 'Christian', because of all it connoted. Always whenever I told people outside who were not Christian that I was a Christian, it always evoked the image a young girl, extreme, uptight and lacking interesting hobbies. My friends respected me and the way my person was shaped by my religion, but when I sometimes excused myself from an activity because of a church function, they might shake their heads and teasingly say, "Why are you so church-active?" As I was younger, I was taken aback by the reactions of my friends from school and kept my church life pertaining more as an extracurricular than anything I would openly speak of in school. Only it puzzled me that though many kids at school and I shared common interests, senses of humor, and curiosity for the same stimulating subjects, I wondered that they couldn't also take interest in church as I did. For a church stayed as my area and they were content to not look into it.

Though later on I realized it was because they only knew of 'church' as cursorily and on the surface as I have been in constantly referring to it only by name. Throughout high school, my church underwent many changes, as we moved into a new community that was much more racially diverse. It was one of the chief reasons I loved church outreaches and its opportunities to meet people everywhere in the community and around the city. During one Halloween, our church creatively decided to set up a Halloween, Hallelujah Festival for the kids and their families living around there. On the day of the Festival, I was very surprised when I began to see some unknown faces of kids and families of various ethnicities approach our church lawn to join the amusement of our games booths, food and prizes. As I became more open in speaking to them, I found the community very amiable and as full of humor, youthfulness, and energy as we. Some of the new people we met also began joining our church as a result of the warm encounter and began to enjoy the whole rhythm of being part of church. The effect of this event upon me was similar to the ones the other church outreaches had on me. In every activity like these, I see how my church is only mysterious and perhaps uninviting to those who do not know what it was like inside the doors. Thus I began to be more open-minded and truly curious of how my own friends saw Christianity, and was surprised by their ideas when they shared with me. Some were misconceptions, such as the ones I had had about them. I began to respect my friends' opinions more and shared my own truthfully, and to my surprise, some even voluntarily joined me to church to participate in activities. This gave me the patience, to first understand the views of another before I judged them to be completely adverse to every form of religion, as I hoped they would also be to me before they judged me simply 'Christian' with many rules and perfect attendance.
drw1019 2 / 6  
Dec 18, 2011   #2
To be honest, this is essay is okay. There's some grammatical mistakes that you should probably look through. Ultimately, though, the last paragraph feels really forced. The part about ethnic diversity seems like you're trying too hard to play into what the colleges "want to hear" - I don't mean to be judgmental, but from the essay I don't get the sense that it was the interaction with new ethnicities that you really loved about your church outreaches. The first paragraph I thought was much better - the essay started out quite solidly. But the second paragraph doesn't really fit in at all with the first - it becomes less about you and more about your church. I would scrap that second paragraph entirely and write a new one. Maybe stick with the idea of "I started to understand their views more as I started to understand theirs" like you talked about in the last sentence - that's a good sentiment. I would frame it around a specific experience or idea.

Anyways, I hope I helped. I don't mean to be rude.

It would be great if you could take a look at my essay, too!
OP cupnoodle123 15 / 52  
Dec 18, 2011   #3
no no, that really helped...actually I also felt that way...I was sorta framing my 2nd paragraph around the prompt, which I think doesn't fit what I am trying to say, and so I think I will come up with a "topic of my choice"

and sure I'll look at your essay :)

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