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Common App Essay, Non-Catholic attending Catholic School

paigecaskey 2 / 1  
Apr 6, 2020   #1
I wrote this essay to somewhat describe my experience as being a non-catholic in a catholic school. Please critique harshly! I would like this essay to really stand out when applying to colleges.

I Wasn't Made for the Grade

"How many of you were confirmed within your parish?" my theology teacher asked with confidence, assuming to see each one of her catholic school students raise their hands with certainty. I could feel my cheeks flushing, as I glanced around the room and saw each hand around me rise, until I was the only student left who hadn't given such a gesture confirming my faith. I sat in my seat, arms crossed, feeling unusually hot, as I was trying to avoid eye contact with my teacher. I wished so greatly to be spared from the embarrassment that was slowly creeping behind me, until I could feel it breathing down my neck. As I glanced up at my teacher, immediate eye contact was made and I could sense the chills running through my spine.

After our exchanging of glances, she exclaimed my name with a strong feeling of concern hidden within the syllables. "Were you confirmed within your parish?" she asked while shooting me with her stare, a new note of anger hidden within her voice. As soon as the words slipped through her mouth and out into the air, my ears caught the sound of all fifteen students turning to stare directly at me, desks creaking with the movement. "No, I was not", I exclaimed with a shaky and uncomfortable tone. Scoffing, my teacher again angrily replied "Do you even belong to a parish?". Once more feeling uncomfortable and ashamed, I responded with "No, I do not". Finally, after time had stretched and those past forty seconds had felt like an eternity, I was given one last glance and then the day had carried on.

I had made the choice myself to attend Catholic high school, and I can say with certainty I don't regret it. However, not being raised as a Roman Catholic brought me upon many uncomfortable situations. At times, I felt judged and belittled due to my choice on religious values. Choosing to not accommodate religion into my life is a choice both me and my parents had made, and was universally recognized in most parts of my life. Respecting and recognizing different beliefs is something I can pride myself on, but my values were often not reciprocated within my school environment. When given opinion-based assignments, I would generally do worse than my peers because I was speaking the truth of who I was and what I believed in. At the end of the day, I will always take the lower grade over lying and conforming my beliefs to those that I disagree with, because no amount of points is worth denying myself of who I truly am. If I wasn't made for the grade, then I wasn't made for the grade.

Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,107 3258  
Apr 7, 2020   #2
It is difficult for me to critique your essay as I am not sure which of the many common app prompts you are trying to respond to. How I wish I had that guideline to assist me in reviewing this piece of writing. Anyway, I will try and do my best to review your work in a manner that will hopefully be useful to you in revising the content.

The first question the reviewer will ask after reading this essay is "Why go to Catholic school if you do not believe in religion?" You left a gaping hole in the essay with the reference to attending a religious school as a personal choice. Why did you make that choice? You knew you were going to stick out like a sore thumb so why go there? Why did you prefer to suffer the humiliation and low grades at a school where you knew you were not welcome? Sure you learned something through the various experiences you had as a student, but then what? Of what value were these lessons in developing your character? Your personality? The way that you handle uncomfortable situations? How you exist in a world where you don't fit in?

The essay is lacking a backstory. It leaves the reviewer with more questions than answers with regards to getting to know you as a person. If you had remembered to attach the prompt to this essay, I would have had the opportunity to figure out how to better redirect the essay to create a more interesting and responsive presentation. For now, this advice will have to do.

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