The "Diversity" Essay And You

Do you feel uncomfortable writing about diversity, particularly for college admissions? In this article, you will learn 3 tips to help you approach the diversity essay.


The Diversity Essay is the fastest growing essay prompt, appearing on more and more lists each year. Needless to say, diversity is a critical component to the admissions process. Before you begin to tackle what you bring to the diversity equation, take a moment to consider why colleges value diversity so much. What are the advantages of a diverse student base? How will your presence on campus support this vision?

1. Show Proof, Progress, and/or Growth

Support your diversity with tangible proof and deliverables (i.e. your activities and what you accomplished with them). How does being part of one group expand your individual understanding of your own diversity? Or on the flip side, how did an aspect of your diversity help improve, or connect with, an activity you were a part of?

If you are part of a particular affinity group, then what are the projects that the group has done to help the community? Or has that affinity group achieved any certain milestones that happened while you were leading the charge?

Admission offices want a diverse group of students because it helps strengthen community in the workplace. What examples can you show, in your essay, of yourself collaborating towards a goal or strengthening interpersonal relationships?

2. Relating to Your Admissions Angle

It might be worthwhile to note that identity-related items work better as part of the personal statement, community, or extracurricular essay rather than the diversity essay. The diversity essay is a better opportunity to show what fresh perspective you can bring to the table rather than a chance to reflect deeply. 

Bring in different organizations or initiatives that you want to join or get involved with. Even better, discuss an initiative that you would like to start! What about a club that builds a special app for managing statistics for athletic teams?

Think about the qualities and perspectives cultivated through your interests. Why are these perspectives desired by the school you’re applying to? Then, find out what qualities your school values based on your research. Think of how your diverse perspectives support those values.

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3. Expanding What Diversity Means

It can be tempting to rely on identity to demonstrate diversity. However, we generally advise against this, for three reasons: First, you have probably mentioned it somewhere else. Second, it’s better to focus on the things you CAN control (e.g. activities, talents, etc.) than the things you CANNOT control (e.g. race, sexuality, etc.). And third, it’s best not to conflate ideology with identity (e.g. political soapboxing). This said, think of the context that your identity has given to your experiences and opportunities.

There is unlikely to be a singular quality that makes you unique. Consider the intersection of these qualities: For example, computer scientists are common. Track athletes are common. But what about a track athlete that is also a computer scientist?

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The diversity essay is becoming more common and important on college applications. You don’t just have to write the same essay as everyone else though, you should make it unique, and it should expand the common spectrum of what diversity means to you. How can you incorporate what you can’t control with what you can control? And what deliverables do you have that show how being in a diverse environment has help yourself, or the community around you?