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Not alone during application season

A Christian Science perspective: One writer describes how her prayers led her to just the right school.

You don’t have to be a high school senior to be aware of the season that is approaching. Conversations overheard in the supermarket, alumni conducting interviews in cafes, and news reports remind us that it’s that time of year when students are busily preparing their college applications. Often with a mix of eagerness and trepidation, they are hard at work collecting recommendation letters, gathering transcripts, and crafting essays, all in an effort to secure a spot at a school where their academic and social experience will inspire and prepare them to succeed in future endeavors.

This process can seem daunting. In my three experiences of applying to higher education programs, I found it invaluable to know that I was not alone as I embarked on the project. I was grateful to be able to remind myself frequently that a divine power was impelling me forward through every step. “[God] guides every event of our careers,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science (“Unity of Good,” pp. 3-4). She often refers to God as the divine Principle that governs the universe.

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The understanding that God is the governing Principle, which governs with order and harmony, brings us an assurance that our future opportunities are dependent on much more than GPAs and acceptance percentages. Holding to that comforting idea was especially helpful when I was applying to a graduate program after having had a rather unimpressive college record. I was pretty sure none of my college professors would even remember me well enough to write a recommendation. In fact, I had to call one of them and send her one of my old papers to remind her of who I was!

This situation could have been discouraging, but I felt inspired and led to pursue the possibility of earning a particular graduate degree (even if I wasn’t sure I would get accepted anywhere), so I persisted. One day as I was sitting down to work on an application, I turned in the “Christian Science Hymnal” to No. 190, which became my constant companion as I went through the process of applying. The third verse says,

Things deemed impossible I dare,
Thine is the call and Thine the care,
Thy wisdom shall the way prepare;
Thy will be done (Frederic Mann, adapted © CSBD).

Each of us has the ability to discern God’s guidance by actively acknowledging God’s presence and becoming mentally receptive to divine direction – God’s angels. I appreciate a Bible verse from Exodus that says, in God’s voice, “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (23:20). The Glossary in Mrs. Eddy’s book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” defines angels not as beings with wings but spiritual intuitions, as “God’s thoughts passing to man;…” (p. 581). Heeding these angels allows us to find our way to just the right place, even if it is not exactly where we expected we would land.

After my applications were submitted, I was surprised to end up with a choice of graduate programs to attend. I decided on a university with a well-known name. However, the summer before starting school, I was not feeling settled about my choice. As I prayed and listened for spiritual intuition from God, I found myself letting go of worldly expectations and pressure and feeling more open to divine guidance. A deep peace and clarity came as I yielded to the inspiration that a different school was a better fit. It was a small school without much name recognition and might not appear to do much for a résumé. But I ended up having an inspiring and very satisfying experience there, culminating with being asked to speak at graduation.

When we see God as the divine Principle of good working in our lives, our prayers become affirmations of God’s harmonious and benevolent will, rather than pleas for the proceedings of our personal plans. There is a place prepared for each high school senior and each of us who may be seeking the next step in our education, work, or living situation. And nothing can hinder us from hearing the angel messages that are guiding us, even by unfamiliar ways that may not fit our human sense of what looks impressive. These thoughts inspire us and lead us to exactly where we can be most fulfilled and most ready for “every event of our careers.”