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College Essays: Spiritual Leadership

College Essays: Spiritual Leadership

By Lauren Passell

The Prompt:

College seeks students who will thrive in the academic, spiritual and community life at Calvin. With this in mind, how do you see yourself contributing to the Christian learning environment at Calvin?

Our Sparkler's essay:

College life becomes hectic, or so I have heard. Amid all the worldly distractions, school, social life, studying, and the occasional wink of sleep, I can see it being easy to slip into a routine that excludes spending time with God. This is why attending a Christian college means a great deal to me, as I am sure it does for many others.  At Calvin, I hope to contribute by encouraging others to grow and learn in Christ by maintaining a fellowship that will praise Him in whatever we may do, whether it is preparing for the next exam, simply participating in an intramural game or even how we nourish our bodies. Philippians 2:1-2 reminds us of the importance of being united for Christ: “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” My decision of wanting to attend a Christian school such as Calvin College came from the realization that many of the people I respect went to schools that are grounded in faith.

I grew up outside of Madison, Wisconsin, and I attend a church on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Geneva Campus Church and its members have been an archetype of faith for me. Many university students, undergraduate and graduate students alike attend, as well as older members such as my parents. Some of the members have PhDs and some are professors. These incredibly bright people come to worship with young students like me and we are all humbled under the same glorious God. Not only are these members ‘bright’ in the way that they have more neuron synapses or that their neuron synapses are more developed, but in the way that their lights shine upon a hill. I have the utmost respect for every single person who attends Geneva because I can tell that these individuals strive to love God “with heart, soul, mind, and strength.” My personal mentor shows me Christ-like love and has helped me make my faith my own by encouraging me to create a daily habit to start my day off with God and His Word instead of rushing into the day. What Geneva Campus Church and my mentor have been to me, I hope to be to someone at Calvin; at the same time I hope Calvin, the faculty, and peers, can be an extension of Christ’s love and grace to me.

Not only do I hope to learn more about Christ and develop a closer relationship with Him, but I expect challenging and rigorous coursework.  In high school I challenged myself by having a difficult schedule and taking four Advanced Placement classes to succeed at a school like Calvin. I am a driven, independent and self-motivated student who looks forward to class and learning as much as I can. I know that the superior academic instruction I could receive at Calvin College would be just what I am looking for to achieve a meaningful understanding of the cultural and spiritual context in which we live so I can make known the infinite love, mercy, and grace of Christ. I hope as a student, I can be one who challenges my peers to work toward their full potential, and I hope that they can challenge me to do the same by always encouraging me to practice a life of service, and continue to help make my faith my own. This is why I would be interested in being part of the Barnabas team at Calvin; not only to reach out to others but to be surrounded by peers with the same qualities and ambitions who are spiritually engaged despite the hectic college life.

To me, the academic and spiritual opportunities that Calvin College offers are equally important to me. As believers, whatever we do should be done for the Lord. I hope that as a student at Calvin I would be able to encourage others because others have encouraged and strengthened me in this aspect. If I were a mentor; may it be done in a way that leads him or her closer to Christ, if I were eating or talking with another student; may it be done in a way that praises God, if I were playing a pickup game of volleyball; may it be done in a way pleasing to God. I hope that this mentality and striving for a better relationship with Him would be encouraging for others around me. Colossians 3:17 reminds us that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Our thoughts:

This essay is wonderfully written, and we think you do a great job answering the question. However, there are a few things you could do to make it even stronger.

A few tiny tweakswatch you sentence flow. There are a few places where your sentences are a bit too short or a little awkward. “College life becomes hectic, or so I have heard” reads better “College life can be hecticor so I have heard.” “ I can see it being easy to slip” reads better “I can see how it would be easy to slip.” Those are small things, but can you see the difference? Your writing is so strong that a lack in tightness really stands out. (That is a compliment!)

Check your use of semi-colons. “What Geneva Campus Church and my mentor have been to me, I hope to be to someone at Calvin; at the same time I hope Calvin, the faculty, and peers, can be an extension of Christ’s love and grace to me.” That can be two sentences. “If I were a mentor; may it be done in a way that leads him or her closer to Christ, if I were eating or talking with another student; may it be done in a way that praises God, if I were playing a pickup game of volleyball; may it be done in a way pleasing to God.” We think it would be more natural to eliminate them altogether, saying, “If I were a mentor, may it be done in a way that leads him or her closer to Christ. If I...”

In general, we think you could add a bit more personality to this. Loosen up! Have a bit of fun. Add some specific examples, talking about funny, human things that have happened at your church or in your community. You do a good job of treating this essay seriously, but don’t take it too seriously. The admissions department wants not only to see your best writing, but really get to know who you are. Read this and ask yourself and ask, “does my personality really come through in this?” What conversations have you had with professors at your church? Is there a tiny thing you could discuss, perhaps something that inspired you to apply to Calvin? You mention that others have inspired you and strengthened you spiritually. But how so, exactly?

You are vague in other areas, too. When you say, “if I were eating or talking with another student; may it be done in a way that praises God.” How exactly would you do that? Remember that showing is always better than telling. So showing examples is a strong way to drive your points home.

We like how you chose great Bible verses as bookends to your essay. They really fit well with the direction of your writing.

Nice work! We’d let you in to our college, if we had one!

Topics: Life
Tags: college, sparklers, application essays, college application essays, writing help, college essays, spirituality, admissions essays, college admissions essays

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