If you’re applying to college, you’ve probably heard the phrase “diversity essay” once or twice. This type of essay is a little different from your typical “Why this college?” essay. Instead of focusing on why you’ve chosen a certain school, you’ll write about your background, values, community, and experiences.
In this guide, I explain what a diversity college essay is, what schools are looking for in this essay, what you can do to ensure your diversity essay stands out and some of Diversity essay examples.
What Is a Diversity Essay for College?
A diversity essay is a college admissions essay that focuses on you as an individual and your relationship with a specific community. The purpose of this essay is to reveal what makes you different from other applicants, including what unique challenges or barriers you’ve faced and how you’ve contributed to or learned from a specific community of people.
Generally speaking, the diversity college essay is used to promote diversity in the student body. As a result, the parameters of this essay are typically quite broad. Applicants may write about any relevant community or experience. Here are some examples of communities you could discuss:
- Cultural group
- Race or ethnicity
- Extended family
- Socioeconomic background (such as your family’s income)
- Sex or gender
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Values or opinions
- Home country or hometown
- The area you live in/your neighborhood
- A club or organization of which you’re an active member
Although the diversity essay is a common admissions requirement at many colleges; most schools do not specifically refer to this essay as a diversity essay. At some schools, the diversity essay is simply your personal statement, whereas at others it’s a supplemental essay or short answer.
It’s also important to note that the diversity essay is not limited to undergraduate programs. Many graduate programs also require diverse essays from applicants. So if you’re planning to eventually apply to graduate school, be aware that you might have to write yet another diversity statement!
What Do Colleges Look for in a Diversity Essay?
With the diversity essay, what colleges usually want most is to learn more about you, including what experiences have made you the person you are today and what unique insights you can offer the school. But what kinds of specific qualities do schools look for in a diversity essay?
To answer this, let’s look at what schools themselves have said about college essays. Although not many colleges give advice specific to the diversity essay, many provide tips for how to write an effective college essay in general.
How to Write an Effective Diversity Essay
Here are some tips to help you write a great diversity college essay and increase your chances of admission to college.
1: Think About What Makes You Unique
One of the main purposes of the diversity essay is to present your uniqueness and explain how you will bring a new perspective to the student body and school as a whole. Therefore, for your essay, be sure to choose a topic that will help you stand apart from other applicants.
For example, instead of writing about your ability to play the piano (which a lot of applicants can do, no doubt), it’d be far more interesting to elaborate on how your experience growing up in Austria led you to become interested in classical music.
Try to think of defining experiences in your life. These don’t have to be obvious life-altering events, but they should have had a lasting impact on you and helped shape your identity.
2: Be Honest and Authentic
While it’s important to showcase how unique you are, you also want to make sure you’re staying true to who you are. What experiences have made you the person you are today? What kind of impact did these have on your identity, accomplishments, and future goals?
Being honest also means not exaggerating (or lying about) your experiences or views. It’s okay if you don’t remember every little detail of an event or conversation. Just try to be as honest about your feelings as possible. Don’t say something changed your life if it really had zero impact on you.
Ultimately, you want to write in a way that’s true to your voice. Don’t be afraid to throw in a little humor or a personal anecdote. What matters most is that your diversity essay accurately represents you and your intellectual potential.
3: Write Clearly, Correctly, and Cogently
This next tip is of a more mechanical nature. As is the case with any college essay, it’s critical that your diversity essay is well written. After all, the purpose of this essay is not only to help schools get to know you better but also to demonstrate a refined writing ability—a skill that’s necessary for doing well in college, regardless of your major.
A diversity essay that’s littered with typos and grammatical errors will fail to tell a smooth, compelling, and coherent story about you. It will also make you look unprofessional and won’t convince admissions committees that you’re serious about college and your future.
So what should you do? First, separate your essay into clear, well-organized paragraphs. Next, proofread your essay several times. As you further tweak your draft, continue to proofread it. If possible, get an adult—such as a teacher, tutor, or parent—to look it over for you as well.
Diversity Essay Examples
I was raised by a single mother, but my home was filled with family. My mother, sister, and I shared a room with two twin-size beds. My aunts, uncles, five cousins, and grandparents shared the two remaining bedrooms. In total, there were thirteen people sharing a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home.
For the children, the nonstop playtime and carefree memories mitigated the obstacles that came with our socioeconomic insufficiency. For me, our tight-knit family and living situation made it much easier to overcome the absence of my father.
My father represented many of the negative stereotypes that Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants have to combat. He immigrated to the United States as a young adult and fell into a life of criminal activity. That is during our city’s booming methamphetamine trade.
His choices had an adverse impact on not only my family but also our community at large. I was somewhat sheltered from learning too much about my father, but I knew enough to feel burdened with shame. In fact, that feeling was so strong that I became fixated on the goal of creating a life opposite to that which my father had built.
Pursuing a brighter future did not come without obstacles in my neighborhood and family. Rejecting the criminal element in our community required a deliberate choice to exclude myself from the majority and often made me feel left out. Many of my peers criticized me and called me stuck up or “whitewashed” because of the choices I made.
My family fully supported my goals, but their own education levels and unfamiliarity with the college admission process restricted the amount of guidance they were able to provide. Counselors at my high school were overloaded by high dropout rates and unable to focus on college-bound students.
It was the small acts of support and encouragement that ultimately got me to overcome my inhibitions and fears of the unknown and pursue a bachelor’s degree; a friend who told me what the SAT was, a teacher who explained the FAFSA and college deadlines. These processes seem basic to some, but can be overwhelming to a first-generation student to the point where it becomes easier to put it off or quit altogether.
I did not spend my entire youth in that overcrowded yet comforting home. Eventually, my mother remarried and we were able to move out of my grandparents’ house. But I still know what it’s like to feel insecure about where you come from and what you lack—it is something I will carry with me throughout my life and career. My education and career goals have been shaped by my background, and I will continue to aim high despite the challenges that may come my way.
As a child, I never found it odd that my parents were immigrants, spoke English with heavy accents, and were only minimally educated. My mother arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic at a young age, and although she was unfamiliar with the language, she made a fervent effort to forge a new and better life for herself.
My father arrived to the U.S., from Ghana, under similar pretenses and worked hard to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities he found here. With their heavily accented English and menial jobs, my parents fostered an environment of love and support that allowed me to construct an identity that truly reflects the social, economic, and ethnic histories that have formed me.
Because they were new to the area and struggling financially, my parents decided to settle in the most affordable area they could find, the South Bronx. The South Bronx is everything the media portrays it to be; dangerous, destitute and adverse. Nevertheless, it is still home, and as much as I have resisted it, growing up in the South Bronx has also had an undeniable impact on me.
As a college freshman, the many layers of my diversity unfolded in an inharmonious manner. It took me some time to integrate my experiences as a first-generation Latino and African American and a South Bronx native. I did not find many other students who shared my background when I began my undergraduate studies at the College of the Holy Cross.
Along with standing out as one of the few persons of color, I also was an outlier socioeconomically. I soon began to feel inferior about my life and background. I avoided conversations that involved my home life and began wishing for another. Also, I longed for affluent, American parents with professional careers.
I wanted to live the lives of the other Holy Cross students. Soon these longings festered into embarrassment towards my parents. I silently accused them of being lazy, choosing to be uneducated and thus forcing us to live in the South Bronx. I essentially blamed them for making me different in every possible sense.
Over time, I began to grasp that although I had a different racial and socioeconomic background than the majority of my classmates, these differences were not negative or adverse. My distinct experiences allowed me to stand out from many other students at my college; these experiences became sources of pride and strength.
My background brought a fresh voice to the classroom setting, something that my professors greatly valued. As I fostered my perspective, I learned to develop and utilize this voice by speaking up and adding my diverse experiences to class discussions. I identified with the experiences of authors like Junot Diaz and Esmeralda
Santiago, who both lived in impoverished ghettos and faced the difficulties of having immigrant parents unaccustomed to the American way of life. I frequently contributed to discussions examining the social and academic difficulties Black students face on predominantly White college campuses. I began to understand that I needed to embrace my diversity rather than suppress it. Consequently, I began to value my multifaceted identity and came to trust in the significance of my diversity.
As I embark on legal education, my experiences, not just as a person of color. But as a biracial and bicultural son of low income African and Latino immigrants. This can help me contribute to the law school environment as well as the legal field. Diversity of thought and perspective is paramount in the study of law, and my; unique voice can serve as an asset, allowing me to represent and bring forth the experiences of those who may not have a platform from which to do so.
If you have any other questions regarding diversity essay examples, kindly drop your comment in the comment box below.
Also, do well to share this link with all your friends and loved ones. That is on all your social media platforms.