What is the diversity question in a school application, and more importantly, why does it matter when applying to leading programs and universities?
Many applications now include a question – sometimes optional – that encourages applicants with minority backgrounds, unusual education, distinctive experience, or unique family histories to write about how these elements will contribute to the diversity of their target school’s class and community.
How to Show You Are Diverse
If you are an immigrant to the U.S., the child of immigrants, or someone whose ethnicity is a minority in the U.S., you may find your response to this question to be helpful to your application effort.. Why? Because you can use it to show how your background will add to the mix of perspectives at the program you are applying to.
Download this sample personal background essay, and see how one student won over the adcom and got accepted into their top-choice MBA program.
sample personal background essay >>
Of course, if you’re not a minority and don’t fall into one of those categories, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to write about.
If you are applying to a school and have an unusual or special experience to share, like serving in the military, becoming part of a dance troupe, or caring for a disabled relative, use your experience to convey how you will bring diversity to the school’s campus.
You could be the first member of your family to apply to college or the first to learn English in your household; you could have worked your way through college or raised your siblings.
As you can see, diversity is not limited to one’s religion, ethnicity, culture, language, or sexual orientation. It’s whatever element of your identity distinguishes you from others.
Diversity is whatever element of your identity distinguishes you from others.
Why Does Diversity Matter at School?
Admissions officers believe diversity in the classroom improves the educational experience of all students.
The more diverse perspectives found in the classroom, throughout the dorms, in the dining halls, and mixed into study groups, the richer the discussions will be and the more creative the teams will become.
Plus, learning and growing in this multicultural environment will prepare students for working in our increasingly multicultural and global world.
In medicine, for example, a heterogeneous workforce benefits people from previously underrepresented cultures in medicine. Businesses realize they will market more effectively if they can speak to different audiences and markets. Schools simply want to prepare graduates for the 21st-century job market.
Listen to our podcast and find out how to approach diversity in your application.
6 Different Ways to Show Your Diversity
Adcoms want to know about your diversity elements and the way they have helped you develop particular character and personality traits, as well as the unusual experiences that have shaped you.
Here are six examples you could write about:
You grew up with a strong insistence on respecting elders, attending family events, or learning your parents’ native language and culture.
You are close to grandparents and extended family who have taught you how teamwork can help everyone thrive.
Are you close to grandparents and extended family who have taught you how teamwork can help everyone thrive?
You have had to face difficulties that stem from your parents’ values being in conflict with yours or those of your peers.
Teachers have not always understood the elements of your culture or outside-of-school situation and how they influence your performance.
You suffered from discrimination and succeeded s in spite of the discrimination, because of your values and character.
You learned skills from a lifestyle that is outside the norm – living in foreign countries as the child of diplomats or contractors; performing professionally in theater, dance, music, or sports; or communicating with a deaf sibling.
And remember, it’s not just about who your parents are. It’s about who you are – at the core.
Your background, your influences, your religious observances, your language, your ideas, your work environment, your community experiences – all of these factors come together to create a unique individual, an individual who can contribute to a diverse class and a diverse world.