It’s important to understand that this prompt is not testing you on how religious you are. Pepperdine University is a Christian school, but it is also inclusive to students of all religions. Pepperdine welcomes diversity of faith. What this essay is asking you to do is to show that you’re interested and committed to having conversations about faith in which you discuss the role it’s played in your life.
Leverage Personal Experiences
If you’re a devout Christian, you could write about your experiences serving at your church or a moment during a summer camp that changed the way you perceive faith.
Remember, this prompt isn’t necessarily asking for a manifesto on your religion; instead, the prompt is looking for how faith has impacted your decisions. So don’t just quote your favorite bible verse in your essay — talk about how, because of that bible verse, you realized that serving underprivileged populations is critical and how this drove you to start a canned food drive at your school. Alternatively, if you’re a practicing Muslim, you can talk about how practicing your faith actively by praying five times a day helps you center your priorities on a consistent basis.
Analyze Religious People or Ideas
You don’t have to come from a traditional faith background to write an excellent essay for this prompt. For starters, most people, regardless of how religious or non-religious they are, have had encounters with religious people and ideas.
For example, you could write about how faith has driven many Catholic saints to create vastly positive impacts on the world. If you have met or come into contact with a religious group, for example, the LaSallian Brothers or Sisters of Mercy, you could explain how their faith inspires them to dedicate their lives to education and service. You could even delve into what it means for an individual to choose a life of faith and, especially, how faith can compel people to choose lives of “purpose, service, and leadership.”
Incorporate Intellectual Support
Within your essay, it should be obvious that you have wrestled with questions about faith and religion. It could be that you had a spiritual crisis after your grandfather died suddenly, or that you, an atheist, always have spirited arguments with your religious friends.
These examples show essay readers that you have seriously considered your faith from an intellectual lens and that you have thoughtful points to add to the conversations about faith at Pepperdine. If you haven’t considered faith or religion in your life, you may want to consider reading classical texts, such as “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl or “The Seven Storey Mountain” by Thomas Merton, to provide more context for what “faith” can mean.
Regardless of your faith — or lack of faith — including your perspective is the most important thing about this essay. Detailed anecdotes about times in which your beliefs were shaped or challenged will make this essay shine. The best way you can contribute to a conversation about faith on campus is by being you. Your unique perspective, and your unique voice, is what applications readers are looking for.
With these tips in mind, writing Pepperdine University’s supplemental essays will be a breeze. And if you still have questions, CollegeVine is here to help!
Be creative and confident. Don’t be afraid to challenge perceptions and explain your ideas.
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Though writing an essay for a scholarship application can be a daunting task, think of it as an opportunity to showcase your abilities and talents to the scholarship committee. By accentuating your strengths through your writing, you will be able to effectively communicate that you are a deserving candidate for their award.
Strive to illustrate your strengths and experience when writing essays for a scholarship application. Throughout your life, you continually discover your talents and abilities. As you develop these talents, they become your strengths in life. Try to demonstrate multiple strengths in your essays. Possible topics that you could illustrate in a scholarship essay include service, leadership, academics, arts, athletics, entrepreneurship, creative talent, leadership, diversity, challenges overcome, and community involvement. Decision-makers for the scholarship program will see your strengths and abilities as reasons why you are worthy of a scholarship.
Add Variety to Your Strengths
Convince selection committees that your talents and experiences are expansive. Demonstrate the variety of your strengths by dividing them into categories and highlighting each one. Below are examples of how you can emphasize the following strengths:
- Service by describing service projects you performed for your church, community, and school or work
- Leadership by outlining leadership positions in your church, community, and school or work
- Athletics by highlighting the top three sports that you excel in: football, soccer, tennis, cheerleading, track, field, or other
- Academics by specifying your top three academic subjects in school: math, science, history, civics, economics, English, or other
- Creative talent by explaining your talents: visual arts, music, dance, poetry, or other
- Any other talent or ability by identifying three ways you have demonstrated that strength in your life
Give Your Strengths Magnitude
In addition, you should show selection committees that you have developed each of your strengths extensively. Tell them how your accomplishments set you apart from others. Demonstrate the magnitude of your strengths by sharing at least three accomplishments within each category. We call this method of presenting your skills and accomplishments “powerstatements.”
Two important concepts govern the preparation of power statements:
- Highlight the skill you are presenting by using “power words,” such as motivated, organized, responsible, problem-solver, and other words that describe your particular strengths.
- Describe something you accomplished with the skill you are presenting. You may include a challenge you faced, actions you performed to overcome the challenge, and the results of your actions. Try to quantify the results of your accomplishments to show your value to a scholarship committee.
Some Examples of Power Statements:
I can achieve results. For example, I planned, organized, and led a charity project that packaged over 5,000 boxes of humanitarian supplies for victims of Hurricane Irene. The whole project was completed and shipped in one day.
I have organization management skills. For example, I reorganized my company’s manufacturing department, increasing yield by 15 percent.
I am an over-achiever. For example, I maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout college while working full-time, taking honors courses, and serving as the president of the Education Society on campus.
I am dedicated. For example, I won the city and regional championship in the 5K by training four hours daily to improve my running time by 45%.
I am creative. For example, I designed a new product line that increased my company’s revenue by $25,000.
By expressing the variety of your strengths, you will show that you are a skilled and well-rounded individual. By expressing the magnitude of your strengths, you will prove that you are accomplished in those areas of your life. Using power statements to deliver these messages will communicate your value with greater impact to selection committees. These applied techniques will create an essay that is more impressive and persuasive of your qualifications.
For more information about scholarships, see the following:
Letters of Recommendation
Scholarship Master Application
Topics for Scholarship Essays
How to Strengthen a Scholarship Essay
Finding Financial Aid on LDSjobs.org
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