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College Application Essays: Going Beyond “How Would You Contribute to Diversity?”

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❶You must also demonstrate that you have been out dynamiting social barriers to liberate others.

Fall 2015 Diversity Essay Contest




Many schools ask a question involving diversity. Universities value diversity in their admitted students because diversity outside of the classroom can broaden your perspective on the world and increase your contribution both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. For example, someone very different from you might share a viewpoint or experience in a class discussion that is new to you. The proper way to answer a question about a situation involving diversity is to tell about a time when you learned something about yourself or another culture from someone very different from you.

Instead of talking about going out for Chinese or Indian food, explain how you were changed by your exposure to new experiences or helped change the perspective of someone else.

This type of response will allow admissions officers to see the impact you will have if admitted. One way to imagine diversity is to see the undergraduate student body as a puzzle with thousands of pieces, and yourself as one of those unique pieces. What strengths do you bring to the college and your fellow students? What of the student who has slowly and painfully worked his way out of psychological isolation or social alienation to achieve a sense of identification with the larger community?

Diversity to me has been the experience of having my individuality denied, suppressed, and demeaned. It is a word that summarizes a smarmy form of oppression that congratulates itself on its high-mindedness even as it enforces narrow-minded conformity.

But chances are very good that a great many students harbor insights very much like that. They know their ethnic or racial categorization, their socio-economic status, and other such characteristics matter far more to admissions offices than their actual thoughts about who they are. They are a tool to keep college applicants aligned with the dominant ideology on campus, which continues to favor group categorizations over both individuality and the broader claims of shared community.

A recent poster at our blog alerted us to the spread of the diversity essay to graduate program admissions as well. As destructive as these essays are at the undergraduate level, their seepage into graduate study is even more alarming.

Surely graduate study should be about learning to participate fully in a discipline. The appearance of the diversity essay on this shore suggests that the ideology of group difference is making a bid to trump even that. Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access opportunities in higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.

You must also demonstrate that you have been out dynamiting social barriers to liberate others. I have focused on my studies and advancing the frontiers of knowledge and inquiry in my field, not on social reform. Chances are that, as with the undergraduate applying to Yale, no one would be foolish enough to say this. We learn to go through the motions, appease the bureaucratic bullies that need to be appeased, and make up the stories necessary to pass gates like this.

They teach the would-be student to whom and to what to bow. They enunciate the doctrines towards which the privately dissenting must be hypocritical and that the rest learn to accept as the piety of the age. The Berkeley graduate application amounts to a requirement that the applicant prove his record as a pro-diversity activist if he want to get in.

This is white-supremacist trash. To diversify a student body is to diversify the education system. These are the administrations of schools that thousands of people apply to per year that are admitting students.

Diversity essays are a 1st amendment case waiting to happen? I very much agree with this answer. Thank you for this explanation. I agree completely with the article. I am Caucasian and grew up with a physician as a father. Having applied to medical school and being rejected, I sought answers from admissions councilors at the medical schools I applied to.

I specifically asked about demographics and diversity…. Here was the councilors answer: I told him that I felt honored to meet him and that I admired him greatly for his approach to life. He waved away my praise with his food-laden fork, responding that he was happy to be here and that it was nice to get out once in a while. Our conversation moved on to his youth and the early choices that set him on his path to becoming a revolutionary.

Why did he feel that he could do more for the poor as a guerilla leader than as a doctor? His answer was concise: He felt morally obligated to change this situation and believed he could help more people in a more direct manner as a warrior rather than as a doctor.

Next I asked why he chose communism as the means of achieving his goals. He replied that communism was merely a means to an end. That end was a Central and South America run by its citizens, free of foreign intervention. In his opinion communism was the best way to realize this dream.

I agreed that a nation should be run by and for its citizens, but I hesitated to agree wholeheartedly. I was concerned by his exclusive emphasis on Latin Americans. His description, as I interpreted it, implied a nationalism and exclusion of others, most notably Americans.

Has Cuba fulfilled his vision for it? Che Guevara sighed and gathered his thoughts for a moment. The revolution did not spread, he reasoned, because of the success of the United States in propping up corrupt dictators and the inability of Cuba to build a viable economy upon which to support the export of revolution. I countered his negative view, pointing out that today many of the Latin American countries once under totalitarian rule are democratic, partly due to the spirit of reform he exemplified nearly half a century before.

He acknowledged the progress made but remained adamant that the nations were still not free of foreign intervention. At this point one of the Mexican teams on TV scored a goal, and we broke off our political conversation to talk about soccer.

He enlightened me, although he admitted his information was a bit out of date. In light of the events of September 11th, I asked about violence. In his view, when is it justified? Che Guevara responded by saying that violence is justified because those who hold power unjustly respond only to violence as a tool for change.

They will not willingly relinquish power unless shown that the people will overwhelm and destroy them. I disagreed vociferously, citing Peru and Guatemala as places where violence had been used and failed, only further impoverishing the nations.

Che Guevara explained these failures as the inevitable outcome of the revolutionaries losing sight of their original moral goals. Reflecting upon his answers so far, I realized that I had lost some of my admiration for him. By taking up the standard of Pan-American unity, I felt he lost some of his humanity that led me to identify so closely with him. To me he had become more of a symbol than an actual person. At this point I realized that I had to be home soon and thanked him profusely for his generosity in answering my questions.

As we walked toward the door, I noticed that I had left my hat on the table. I have a confession to make. I have a shoe fetish. Everyone around me seems to underestimate the statement a simple pair of shoes can make. To me, though, the shoes I wear are not merely covering for the two feet on which I tread, but a reflection of who I am. So, who am I? My toes are free in these sandals and wiggle at will.

I have boundless energy that must not go to waste! My slippers are my comforting side. I can wear them and listen to a friend cry for hours on end. My favorite pair of shoes, however, are my bright red Dr. No one else I know has them. These sneakers render me indistinguishable from others and thereby allow me to be independent. I wear them running, riding my bicycle alone through the trails surrounded by signs of autumn, and even when I go to a museum and stand, transfixed by a single photograph.

My hiking boots typify my love of adventure and being outdoors. Broken in and molded to the shape of my foot, when wearing them I feel in touch with my surroundings.

During college I intend to add to my collection yet another closet full of colorful clodhoppers. For each aspect of my personality I discover or enhance through my college experiences, I will find a pair of shoes to reflect it. Perhaps a pair of Naot sandals for my Jewish Studies class or one black shoe and one white when learning about the Chinese culture and its belief in yin and yang.

As I get to know myself and my goals grow nearer, my collection will expand. A combination of every shoe in my collection, these shoes will embody each aspect of my personality in a single footstep. No longer will I have a separate pair for each quirk and quality. This one pair will say it all. It will be evidence of my self-awareness and maturity. My closet full of shoes mirrors my array of interests, and at the same time my difficulty in choosing a single interest that will satisfy me for the rest of my life.

I want to leave college with direction, having pinpointed a single interest to pursue that will add texture and meaning to my life. So there you have it. Want to know more? Come walk a day in my shoes. The stiff black apron hung awkwardly on my hips as I casually tried to tie the strings around my waist.

Maurizio brought me to a dangerously steep staircase that looked like it had been purposely drenched in oil to increase the chance of a fall. As he gracefully flew down each step, I clutched onto the rusty tile walls, strategically putting one foot first and then the other. Pretending to know what had to be done, I took a pile of unfolded starched napkins and attempted to turn them into the Gino accordion.

I slowly folded each corner, trying to leave exactly one inch on both sides, and ignored the giggles and whispers coming from across the table. When I finished my first napkin, I quickly grabbed another and tried again, hiding my pathetic initial attempt under my thigh.

On my second try, I sighed with relief when I saw that what I had constructed slightly resembled an accordion shape. However, when I looked up, I saw that the other two men had each finished twenty perfect napkins.


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I talked to an adcom about this 'diversity' essay topic and expressed my displeasure at it. She told me she isn't fond of the essay topic herself because many of the submitted essays always focus on 'skin color'. College Essay Diversity Diversity in the College Setting Colleges in America differ from numerous ways It is noted that some are public while others are private. Some offer professional and graduate programs, while others offer undergraduate education.