When you say you had a religious experience, do you really mean it? It can be tricky to integrate personal beliefs and religious connections into admissions essays without sounding like you’re trying to proselytize. How to write about your spiritual convictions without sounding close-minded? As always, the show don’t tell policy works best: Show the admissions committee how you’ve grown through your religious affiliations.
Rather than writing,
My work in the Christian church is the most important part of my life.
you could try this:
My volunteer work in underprivileged urban schools with the XX church group changed my perspective on what it means to be a leader.
Of course, this approach means you might need to dig a little bit deeper into your personal understanding of what leadership really means to you. But isn’t personal and professional growth what we’re after in the first place? So take a look at how your beliefs in the spiritual sphere have affected your activities and successes in the professional sector. Use your admissions essays as an opportunity to reflect upon the larger gestalt of meaning and belief in your life.
If a significant life event (or accident, near-death experience, etc.) led you to your religious beliefs, it will be important to describe these circumstances in a way that is understandable for a non-believer. It can sound a bit unbelievable, or even psychologically unstable, to attribute your religious leanings to a sudden moment of revelation in conditions of distress. Your beliefs are absolutely important, but given the separation of church and state in the United States, the Admissions Committee needs to hear your experience in terms that are grounded in personal development rather than spiritual miracle.
Instead of describing how,
I will never forget the day when my allegiance with Jesus was formed.
you could write:
As I developed my understanding of the Christian principle of goodwill, I learned the importance of making positive contributions to my community.
This is the kind of sentiment that even someone who is not Christian can easily understand and relate to. It is paramount to show a breadth of understanding in terms of the global relationship to religion. Unless you are applying to an overtly religious academic institution, it will be best to approach this highly controversial issue from the sophisticated perspective of personal growth. The Admissions Committee is looking for well-rounded individuals who have the capacity for self-reflection and development.
Hopefully, your spiritual experiences and religious affiliations have expanded these very qualities in you. In order to share these thoughts effectively, begin by asking yourself some questions:
How are you a different person because of the spiritual or religious aspects of your life?
Did you have an important mentor in a religious group who helped guide you in your career? If so, how?
What elements of your religious life inspire your professional aspirations?
How does your spiritual life help you connect with your immediate community and the larger global community?
Ivy Eyes Editing