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Resolving to pray about college essays

From the May 4, 2015 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Senior year in high school is something that many students look forward to as a year to relax a little bit and get excited about going to college. Yet there is a hurdle left to jump over … college applications, especially the essays. 

Many students, including me, start off thinking these essays can’t be too much work. And just like many students, I realized I was incorrect. Having to write essays about the same topics over and over, often getting them edited and reedited by peers, teachers, and parents, and finally deciding to write a totally new essay started to feel really stressful for me. As this stress started to get the better of me, I turned to prayer in Christian Science. 

God, divine Mind, would lead me to the right ideas I needed.

I had taken on an assignment to read Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy from cover to cover over the course of a year. I was behind on this assignment, but as I was reading one morning, a thought stuck with me, which was “Rise in the conscious strength of the spirit of Truth to overthrow the plea of mortal mind, alias matter, arrayed against the supremacy of Spirit” (pp. 390–391). 

I was able to work with this idea, to lift my thoughts above the temptation of stress and “overthrow” the worries of deadlines and whether or not my college essays were good enough. Knowing that I have God, and “the conscious strength of the spirit of Truth,” to help me, I could see that no matter what issues I encountered with my essays or how many times I had to fix something, God, divine Mind, would lead me to the right ideas I needed.

Another issue that came along with these essays had to do with the topics I was writing about. I decided that to appeal to colleges, I should write about how my past has given me strength and resolve. Some pretty difficult things happened in my past, including death in the family, and also my parents’ divorce. Writing about all of that was not only tough but also difficult to do while not sounding like someone asking for pity or remorse. I soon realized I needed to focus on how I grew spiritually throughout these experiences. 

One thing that helped me focus on this spiritual growth was going back and praying about these things. I prayed to know that no matter who or what gets separated from us materially, we are all still “tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else” (Science and Health, p. 481). Being able to think about these experiences from a spiritual perspective, instead of just looking at human events, made me feel better about both my writing and my past.

Student studying
— KEN BAUGHMAN—STAFF

After writing these college essays for some time, I got tired of it and decided to take a break. That’s when I came across something else from Science and Health, from the chapter “Recapitulation”: “Material man is made up of involuntary and voluntary error, of a negative right and a positive wrong, the latter calling itself right. Man’s spiritual individuality is never wrong. It is the likeness of man’s Maker” (p. 491). 

This definitely helped me because I was able to realize that even if what seemed like “involuntary” bad things had happened to me in the past, they only made up the mortal, material story. Mortal story lines are not true about me or anyone and could never affect my true spiritual identity as God’s child, or my relationship to God. After reading and praying with that statement from Science and Health, I felt a lot better about talking about these different topics in my writing, and I stopped feeling like others would pity me for these events that did not make up my true spiritual identity.

Now I am able to write my college applications to the best of my ability without feeling upset or stressed out. Being able to write these applications without the negativity has made the whole experience of applying for college more enjoyable and has made me even more grateful for God’s guidance.


Liam Poling is a senior in high school who swims, plays video games, and enjoys reading a good book.

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