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Common App Essay: Open-mindedness and Christianity

UltimaWeapon 3 / 4 3  
Jan 1, 2018   #1
Prompt: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

I opened my mind on others' beliefs

"So what about you, Wenbo? Are you a true Christian?" The Bible teacher throws it at me right after a passionate lecture on the essence of Christianity. Thus, the most dreaded question comes assailing me head-on. The sudden silence in the classroom stretches my every second to an eternity, and the stagnant air exerts on me a nauseous pressure. Even the intense gaze of a preying mantis pales in comparison to those ruthlessly shot at me from the scrutinizing eyes of my Christian classmates.

There you go: my second day in a Christian private school, with me, holding a Bible for the first time, stuck just like that.

Born in a non-religious family and having been an atheist for my whole life, I was surprised at my parents' decision to send me to a religious school for my secondary education. Though initially uneasy, I thought I would be okay as long as I didn't touch on religious topics in school.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Things similar to what happened on my second day in school regularly occurred and only got worse as time went by. I can still vividly recall how my stupefied self clapped soullessly in my first chapel; how I struggled to keep up with the fervent overnight praising in the school retreats; and how I fought back my urge to correct people's stereotypical understanding of evolution as monkeys (not even apes) turning into humans. More than anything, I cringed at the school's effort to insulate its students from notions incompatible with the Christian worldview it cherishes.

I spent my entire middle-school career preoccupied with an antagonistic mindset toward Christianity, a seemingly rigid, close-minded religion. However, as my thoughts matured in high school, I realized my own narrow outlook. I looked down at the cowardice of my classmates who didn't dare step out of their comfort zone, but had I ever gone beyond my own? I sneered at their lack of understanding of the outside world, but what did I know about their belief and community? If Christians ideals seemed counter-intuitive to me, an atheist who had just begun to learn the Bible, then theories such as evolution must sound ridiculous to my Christian classmates, who have zero knowledge of them.

For the first time, I found that my classmates, who seemingly lived in an alien world, were fundamentally the same as me, an unyielding conservative shut in his own box. We all lacked a little open-mindedness.

My realization prompted me to take a course of action I would never have taken otherwise. My newborn curiosity about my classmates' belief pushed me to not only voluntarily examine the Bible, originally avoided by me as a book of heresy, but also set off on an adventure to the church right next to my house. As my knowledge of Christianity grew, I overcame the prejudice that had been troubling me ever since I became a middle-schooler. My experiences in church, though at first greatly discomforting, taught me the essence of Christian communities and unshackled me from my obstinacy.

Finally, I found myself at ease about school. I started having meaningful conversations with my friends on topics my former self would detest; the Bible class became engaged in fair academic discourses as I encouraged my peers to ponder on perspectives they tended to oversimplify; I actively participated in the annual Christmas concert to blend in with the close-knit community of Christians. Eventually, my relationship with my schoolmates culminated in me being elected the MC of this year's Christmas concert and the student body president.

In retrospect, I'm glad that I was sent to a Christian school, where I learned how to embrace and collaborate with people whose worldviews conflict with mine. In college and society, places where I will inevitably encounter new beliefs, I hope my receptiveness can guide me to inspire a sense of open-mindedness in everyone I meet.

Dear Reader,

Should I explain any part more in depth? Is there any unnecessary parts? Are my intro and conclusions good enough?

Thanks a lot in advance!
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 12,845 4177  
Jan 1, 2018   #2
Wenbo, I think that you can have a more relevant and informative essay if you first explain why you were raised an atheist by your parents so that the comparison can be made regarding your original mindset and your new religious based mindset. You have presented an excellent discussion about how you slowly evolved into a religious epiphany for you. Explain why this change happened in a manner that shows that you didn't just do this because you were in a religious school. Your explanation of your realization is not as enlightening nor informative as it might seem to you. The way I read it, you found some commonalities between you and your religious classmates, bit this did not necessitate you embracing religion. So you need to build that portion up some more with additional information or experiences. We need to feel that you really have a religious awakening unfolding alongside a logical realization in the essay so that the effect and learning experience can have more value in relation to your choice to become an active Christian practitioner.
OP UltimaWeapon 3 / 4 3  
Jan 1, 2018   #3
Holt, I'm trying to say that by exploring Christianity I learned that it has its basis and I shouldn't be biased against it. As I opened my mind, I engaged with the Christian community and learned how to work with people who believe in things I don't believe in and how to inspire them to have less biased view as well. I'm not a Christian and I wasn't trying to imply that I am one. How do you think I should revise my writing?
KhushbooVohra 8 / 17 3  
Jan 10, 2018   #4
... stupefied self clapped ... - self-clapped

... for the first time, stuck ... - no comma

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