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  • How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples

How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples

Published on November 1, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Table of contents

What is a diversity essay, identify how you will enrich the campus community, share stories about your lived experience, explain how your background or identity has affected your life, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Diversity essays ask students to highlight an important aspect of their identity, background, culture, experience, viewpoints, beliefs, skills, passions, goals, etc.

Diversity essays can come in many forms. Some scholarships are offered specifically for students who come from an underrepresented background or identity in higher education. At highly competitive schools, supplemental diversity essays require students to address how they will enhance the student body with a unique perspective, identity, or background.

In the Common Application and applications for several other colleges, some main essay prompts ask about how your background, identity, or experience has affected you.

Why schools want a diversity essay

Many universities believe a student body representing different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community.

Through the diversity essay, admissions officers want students to articulate the following:

  • What makes them different from other applicants
  • Stories related to their background, identity, or experience
  • How their unique lived experience has affected their outlook, activities, and goals

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Think about what aspects of your identity or background make you unique, and choose one that has significantly impacted your life.

For some students, it may be easy to identify what sets them apart from their peers. But if you’re having trouble identifying what makes you different from other applicants, consider your life from an outsider’s perspective. Don’t presume your lived experiences are normal or boring just because you’re used to them.

Some examples of identities or experiences that you might write about include the following:

  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Nationality
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Immigration background
  • Religion/belief system
  • Place of residence
  • Family circumstances
  • Extracurricular activities related to diversity

Include vulnerable, authentic stories about your lived experiences. Maintain focus on your experience rather than going into too much detail comparing yourself to others or describing their experiences.

Keep the focus on you

Tell a story about how your background, identity, or experience has impacted you. While you can briefly mention another person’s experience to provide context, be sure to keep the essay focused on you. Admissions officers are mostly interested in learning about your lived experience, not anyone else’s.

When I was a baby, my grandmother took me in, even though that meant postponing her retirement and continuing to work full-time at the local hairdresser. Even working every shift she could, she never missed a single school play or soccer game.

She and I had a really special bond, even creating our own special language to leave each other secret notes and messages. She always pushed me to succeed in school, and celebrated every academic achievement like it was worthy of a Nobel Prize. Every month, any leftover tip money she received at work went to a special 509 savings plan for my college education.

When I was in the 10th grade, my grandmother was diagnosed with ALS. We didn’t have health insurance, and what began with quitting soccer eventually led to dropping out of school as her condition worsened. In between her doctor’s appointments, keeping the house tidy, and keeping her comfortable, I took advantage of those few free moments to study for the GED.

In school pictures at Raleigh Elementary School, you could immediately spot me as “that Asian girl.” At lunch, I used to bring leftover fun see noodles, but after my classmates remarked how they smelled disgusting, I begged my mom to make a “regular” lunch of sliced bread, mayonnaise, and deli meat.

Although born and raised in North Carolina, I felt a cultural obligation to learn my “mother tongue” and reconnect with my “homeland.” After two years of all-day Saturday Chinese school, I finally visited Beijing for the first time, expecting I would finally belong. While my face initially assured locals of my Chinese identity, the moment I spoke, my cover was blown. My Chinese was littered with tonal errors, and I was instantly labeled as an “ABC,” American-born Chinese.

I felt culturally homeless.

Speak from your own experience

Highlight your actions, difficulties, and feelings rather than comparing yourself to others. While it may be tempting to write about how you have been more or less fortunate than those around you, keep the focus on you and your unique experiences, as shown below.

I began to despair when the FAFSA website once again filled with red error messages.

I had been at the local library for hours and hadn’t even been able to finish the form, much less the other to-do items for my application.

I am the first person in my family to even consider going to college. My parents work two jobs each, but even then, it’s sometimes very hard to make ends meet. Rather than playing soccer or competing in speech and debate, I help my family by taking care of my younger siblings after school and on the weekends.

“We only speak one language here. Speak proper English!” roared a store owner when I had attempted to buy bread and accidentally used the wrong preposition.

In middle school, I had relentlessly studied English grammar textbooks and received the highest marks.

Leaving Seoul was hard, but living in West Orange, New Jersey was much harder一especially navigating everyday communication with Americans.

After sharing relevant personal stories, make sure to provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your perspective, activities, and goals. You should also explain how your background led you to apply to this university and why you’re a good fit.

Include your outlook, actions, and goals

Conclude your essay with an insight about how your background or identity has affected your outlook, actions, and goals. You should include specific actions and activities that you have done as a result of your insight.

One night, before the midnight premiere of Avengers: Endgame , I stopped by my best friend Maria’s house. Her mother prepared tamales, churros, and Mexican hot chocolate, packing them all neatly in an Igloo lunch box. As we sat in the line snaking around the AMC theater, I thought back to when Maria and I took salsa classes together and when we belted out Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” at karaoke. In that moment, as I munched on a chicken tamale, I realized how much I admired the beauty, complexity, and joy in Maria’s culture but had suppressed and devalued my own.

The following semester, I joined Model UN. Since then, I have learned how to proudly represent other countries and have gained cultural perspectives other than my own. I now understand that all cultures, including my own, are equal. I still struggle with small triggers, like when I go through airport security and feel a suspicious glance toward me, or when I feel self-conscious for bringing kabsa to school lunch. But in the future, I hope to study and work in international relations to continue learning about other cultures and impart a positive impression of Saudi culture to the world.

The smell of the early morning dew and the welcoming whinnies of my family’s horses are some of my most treasured childhood memories. To this day, our farm remains so rural that we do not have broadband access, and we’re too far away from the closest town for the postal service to reach us.

Going to school regularly was always a struggle: between the unceasing demands of the farm and our lack of connectivity, it was hard to keep up with my studies. Despite being a voracious reader, avid amateur chemist, and active participant in the classroom, emergencies and unforeseen events at the farm meant that I had a lot of unexcused absences.

Although it had challenges, my upbringing taught me resilience, the value of hard work, and the importance of family. Staying up all night to watch a foal being born, successfully saving the animals from a minor fire, and finding ways to soothe a nervous mare afraid of thunder have led to an unbreakable family bond.

Our farm is my family’s birthright and our livelihood, and I am eager to learn how to ensure the farm’s financial and technological success for future generations. In college, I am looking forward to joining a chapter of Future Farmers of America and studying agricultural business to carry my family’s legacy forward.

Tailor your answer to the university

After explaining how your identity or background will enrich the university’s existing student body, you can mention the university organizations, groups, or courses in which you’re interested.

Maybe a larger public school setting will allow you to broaden your community, or a small liberal arts college has a specialized program that will give you space to discover your voice and identity. Perhaps this particular university has an active affinity group you’d like to join.

Demonstrating how a university’s specific programs or clubs are relevant to you can show that you’ve done your research and would be a great addition to the university.

At the University of Michigan Engineering, I want to study engineering not only to emulate my mother’s achievements and strength, but also to forge my own path as an engineer with disabilities. I appreciate the University of Michigan’s long-standing dedication to supporting students with disabilities in ways ranging from accessible housing to assistive technology. At the University of Michigan Engineering, I want to receive a top-notch education and use it to inspire others to strive for their best, regardless of their circumstances.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing


  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

In addition to your main college essay , some schools and scholarships may ask for a supplementary essay focused on an aspect of your identity or background. This is sometimes called a diversity essay .

Many universities believe a student body composed of different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community, which is why they assign a diversity essay .

To write an effective diversity essay , include vulnerable, authentic stories about your unique identity, background, or perspective. Provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your outlook, activities, and goals. If relevant, you should also mention how your background has led you to apply for this university and why you’re a good fit.

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what is a diversity essay

May 11, 2023

Writing an Excellent Diversity Essay

What is the diversity essay question and how do you answer it

What is the diversity question in a school application, and why does it matter when applying to leading programs and universities? Most importantly, how should you respond?

Diversity is of supreme value in higher education, and schools want to know how every student will contribute to it in their community. A diversity essay is an essay that encourages applicants with disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds, an unusual education, a distinctive experience, or a unique family history to write about how these elements of their background have prepared them to play a useful role in increasing and encouraging diversity among their target program’s student body and broader community.

In this post, we’ll cover the following topics: 

How to show you can add to diversity

Why diversity matters at school, seven examples that reveal diversity, how to write about your diversity, diversity essay example, want to ensure your application demonstrates the diversity that your dream school is seeking.

If you are an immigrant to the United States, the child of immigrants, or someone whose ethnicity is underrepresented in the States, your response to “How will you add to the diversity of our class/community?” and similar questions might help your application efforts. Why? Because you can use it to show how your background will add a distinctive perspective to the program you are applying to.

Download this sample personal background essay, and see how one candidate won over the adcom and got accepted into their top-choice MBA program.

Of course, if you’re not from a group that is underrepresented in your field or a disadvantaged group, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to write about in a diversity essay.

For example, you might have an unusual or special experience to share, such as serving in the military, being a member of a dance troupe, or caring for a disabled relative. These and other distinctive experiences can convey how you will contribute to the diversity of 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. Perhaps you have worked your way through college or helped raise your siblings. You might also have been an ally to those who are underrepresented, disadvantaged, or marginalized in your community, at your previous school, or in an earlier work experience. 

As you can see, diversity is not limited to one’s religion, ethnicity, culture, language, or sexual orientation. It refers to whatever element of your identity  distinguishes you from others and shows that you, too, value diversity.

Admissions officers believe diversity in the classroom improves the educational experience of all the students involved. They also believe that having a diverse workforce better serves society as a whole.

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.

Plus, learning and growing in this kind of 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. Businesses realize they will market more effectively if they can speak to different audiences and markets, which is possible when members of their workforce come from different backgrounds and cultures. Schools simply want to prepare graduates for the 21st century job market.

Adcoms want to know about your personal 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 seven examples an applicant could write about:

  • They grew up with a strong insistence on respecting elders, attending family events, or learning their parents’ native language and culture.
  • They are close to grandparents and extended family members who have taught them how teamwork can help everyone thrive.
  • They have had to face difficulties that stem from their parents’ values being in conflict with theirs or those of their peers.
  • Teachers have not always understood the elements of their culture or lifestyle and how those elements influence their performance.
  • They suffered from discrimination and succeeded despite it because of their grit, values, and character.
  • They learned skills from a lifestyle that is outside the norm (e.g., living in foreign countries as the child of a diplomat or contractor; performing professionally in theater, dance, music, or sports; having a deaf sibling).
  • They’ve encountered racism or other prejudice (either toward themselves or others) and responded by actively promoting diverse, tolerant values.

And remember, it’s not just about who your parents are. It’s about who you are – at the core.

Your background, influences, religious observances, language, ideas, work environment, community experiences – all these factors come together to create a unique individual, one who will contribute to a varied class of distinct individuals taking their place in a diverse world.

Your answer to the diversity question should focus on how your experiences have built your empathy for others, your embrace of differences, your resilience, your character, and your perspective.

The school might well ask how you think of diversity or how you can bring or add to the diversity of your school, chosen profession, or community. Make sure you answer the specific question posed by highlighting distinctive elements of your profile that will add to the class mosaic every adcom is trying to create. You don’t want to blend in; you want to stand out in a positive way while also complementing the school’s canvas.

Here’s a simple, three-part framework that will help you think of diversity more, well, diversely:

  • Identity : Who are you? What has contributed to your identity? How do you distinguish yourself? Your identity can include any of the following: gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, religion, nontraditional work experience, nontraditional educational background, multicultural background, and family’s educational level.
  • Deeds : What have you done? What have you accomplished? This could include any of the following: achievements inside and/or outside your field of study, leadership opportunities, community service, , internship or professional experience, research opportunities, hobbies, and travel. Any or all of these could be unique. Also, what life-derailing, throw-you-for-a-loop challenges have you faced and overcome?
  • Ideas : How do you think? How do you approach things? What drives you? What influences you? Are you the person who can break up a tense meeting with some well-timed humor? Are you the one who intuitively sees how to bring people together? 

Learn more about this three-part framework in this podcast episode.

Think about each question within this framework and how you could apply your diversity elements to the classroom, your school, or your community. Any of these elements will serve as the framework for your essay.

Don’t worry if you can’t think of something totally “out there.” You don’t need to be a tightrope walker living in the Andes or a Buddhist monk from Japan to pass the diversity test!

And please remember, the examples I have listed are not exhaustive. There are many other ways to show diversity!

All you need to write successfully about how you will contribute to the rich diversity of your target school’s community is to examine your identity, deeds, and ideas, with an eye toward your personal distinctiveness and individuality. There is only one you .

Want our advice on how you can best show diversity?

Click here to sign up for a free consultation.

Take a look at this sample diversity essay, and pay attention to how the writer underscores their appreciation for and experience with diversity. 

When I was starting 11 th grade, my dad, an agricultural scientist, was assigned to a 3-month research project in a farm village in Niigata (northwest Honshu in Japan). Rather than stay behind with my mom and siblings, I begged to go with him. As a straight-A student, I convinced my parents and the principal that I could handle my schoolwork remotely (pre-COVID) for that stretch. It was time to leap beyond my comfortable suburban Wisconsin life—and my Western orientation, reinforced by travel to Europe the year before. 

We roomed in a sprawling farmhouse with a family participating in my dad’s study. I thought I’d experience an “English-free zone,” but the high school students all studied and wanted to practice English, so I did meet peers even though I didn’t attend their school. Of the many eye-opening, influential, cultural experiences, the one that resonates most powerfully to me is experiencing their community. It was a living, organic whole. Elementary school kids spent time helping with the rice harvest. People who foraged for seasonal wild edibles gave them to acquaintances throughout the town. In fact, there was a constant sharing of food among residents—garden veggies carried in straw baskets, fish or meat in coolers. The pharmacist would drive prescriptions to people who couldn’t easily get out—new mothers, the elderly—not as a business service but as a good neighbor. If rain suddenly threatened, neighbors would bring in each other’s drying laundry. When an empty-nest 50-year-old woman had to be hospitalized suddenly for a near-fatal snakebite, neighbors maintained her veggie patch until she returned. The community embodied constant awareness of others’ needs and circumstances. The community flowed!

Yet, people there lamented that this lifestyle was vanishing; more young people left than stayed or came. And it wasn’t idyllic: I heard about ubiquitous gossip, long-standing personal enmities, busybody-ness. But these very human foibles didn’t dam the flow. This dynamic community organism couldn’t have been more different from my suburban life back home, with its insular nuclear families. We nod hello to neighbors in passing. 

This wonderful experience contained a personal challenge. Blond and blue-eyed, I became “the other” for the first time. Except for my dad, I saw no Westerner there. Curious eyes followed me. Stepping into a market or walking down the street, I drew gazes. People swiftly looked away if they accidentally caught my eye. It was not at all hostile, I knew, but I felt like an object. I began making extra sure to appear “presentable” before going outside. The sense of being watched sometimes generated mild stress or resentment. Returning to my lovely tatami room, I would decompress, grateful to be alone. I realized this challenge was a minute fraction of what others experience in my own country. The toll that feeling—and being— “other” takes on non-white and visibly different people in the US can be extremely painful. Experiencing it firsthand, albeit briefly, benignly, and in relative comfort, I got it.

Unlike the organic Niigata community, work teams, and the workplace itself, have externally driven purposes. Within this different environment, I will strive to exemplify the ongoing mutual awareness that fueled the community life in Niigata. Does it benefit the bottom line, improve the results? I don’t know. But it helps me be the mature, engaged person I want to be, and to appreciate the individuals who are my colleagues and who comprise my professional community. I am now far more conscious of people feeling their “otherness”—even when it’s not in response to negative treatment, it can arise simply from awareness of being in some way different.

What did you think of this essay? Does this middle class Midwesterner have the unique experience of being different from the surrounding majority, something she had not experienced in the United States? Did she encounter diversity from the perspective of “the other”? 

Here a few things to note about why this diversity essay works so well:

  • The writer comes from “a comfortable, suburban, Wisconsin life,” suggesting that her own background might not be ethnically, racially, or in other ways diverse.
  • The diversity “points” scored all come from her fascinating  experience of having lived in a Japanese farm village, where she immersed herself in a totally different culture.
  • The lessons learned about the meaning of community are what broaden and deepen the writer’s perspective about life, about a purpose-driven life, and about the concept of “otherness.” 

By writing about a time when you experienced diversity in one of its many forms, you can write a memorable and meaningful diversity essay.

Working on your diversity essay?

Want to ensure that your application demonstrates the diversity that your dream school is seeking? Work with one of our admissions experts and . This checklist includes more than 30 different ways to think about diversity to jump-start your creative engines.

Related Resources:

•  Different Dimensions of Diversity , a podcast episode • What to Do if You Belong to an Overrepresented Applicant Group • Med School Admissions Advice for Nontraditional Applicants: The Experts Speak

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College Essays


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—basically, what makes you special.

In this guide, I explain what a diversity college essay is, what schools are looking for in this essay, and what you can do to ensure your diversity essay stands out.

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:

  • Your cultural group
  • Your race or ethnicity
  • Your extended family
  • Your religion
  • Your socioeconomic background (such as your family's income)
  • Your sex or gender
  • Your sexual orientation
  • Your gender identity
  • Your values or opinions
  • Your experiences
  • Your home country or hometown
  • Your school
  • The area you live in or 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 diversity essays from applicants. So if you're planning to eventually apply to graduate school, be aware that you might have to write another diversity statement!

Diversity Essay Sample Prompts From Colleges

Now that you understand what diversity essays for college are, let's take a look at some diversity essay sample prompts from actual college applications.

University of Michigan

At the University of Michigan , the diversity college essay is a required supplemental essay for all freshman applicants.

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

University of Washington

Like UM, the University of Washington asks students for a short-answer (300 words) diversity essay. UW also offers advice on how to answer the prompt.

Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the University of Washington.

Keep in mind that the UW strives to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values, and viewpoints.

University of California System

The UC system requires freshman applicants to choose four out of eight prompts (or personal insight questions ) and submit short essays of up to 350 words each . Two of these are diversity essay prompts that heavily emphasize community, personal challenges, and background.

For each prompt, the UC system offers tips on what to write about and how to craft a compelling essay.

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you've faced and what you've learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you're currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, "How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends, or with my family?"

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team, or place—like your high school, hometown, or home. You can define community as you see fit; just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community, or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?


Think about your community: How has it helped you? What have you done for it?

University of Oklahoma

First-year applicants to the University of Oklahoma who want to qualify for a leader, community service, or major-based scholarship must answer two optional, additional writing prompts , one of which tackles diversity. The word count for this prompt is 650 words or less.

The University of Oklahoma is the home of a vibrant, diverse, and compassionate university community that is often referred to as “the OU family.” Please describe your cultural and community service activities and why you chose to participate in them.

Duke University

In addition to having to answer the Common Application or Coalition Application essay prompts, applicants to Duke University may (but do not have to) submit short answers to two prompts, four of which are diversity college essay prompts . The maximum word count for each is 250 words.

We believe a wide range of personal perspectives, beliefs, and lived experiences are essential to making Duke a vibrant and meaningful living and learning community. Feel free to share with us anything in this context that might help us better understand you and what you might bring to our community .

We believe there is benefit in sharing and sometimes questioning our beliefs or values; who do you agree with on the big important things, or who do you have your most interesting disagreements with? What are you agreeing or disagreeing about?

We recognize that “fitting in” in all the contexts we live in can sometimes be difficult. Duke values all kinds of differences and believes they make our community better. Feel free to tell us any ways in which you’re different, and how that has affected you or what it means to you.

Duke’s commitment to inclusion and belonging includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Feel free to share with us more about how your identity in this context has meaning for you as an individual or as a member of a community .

Pitzer College

At Pitzer, freshman applicants must use the Common Application and answer one supplemental essay prompt. One of these prompts is a diversity essay prompt that asks you to write about your community.

At Pitzer, five core values distinguish our approach to education: social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. As agents of change, our students utilize these values to create solutions to our world's challenges. Reflecting on your involvement throughout high school or within the community, how have you engaged with one of Pitzer's core values?

The Common Application

Many colleges and universities, such as Purdue University , use the Common Application and its essay prompts.

One of its essay prompts is for a diversity essay, which can be anywhere from 250 to 650 words. This prompt has a strong focus on the applicant's identity, interests, and background.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful, they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

ApplyTexas is similar to the Common Application but is only used by public colleges and universities in the state of Texas. The application contains multiple essay prompts, one of which is a diversity college essay prompt that asks you to elaborate on who you are based on a particular identity, a passion you have, or a particular skill that you've cultivated.

Essay B: Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.


In a diversity essay, focus on an aspect of your identity or cultural background that defines you and makes you stand out.

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 .

For example, here is what Dickinson College hopes to see in applicants' college essays:

Tell your story.

It may be trite advice, but it's also true. Admissions counselors develop a sixth sense about essay writers who are authentic. You'll score points for being earnest and faithful to yourself.

Authenticity is key to writing an effective diversity essay. Schools want you to be honest about who you are and where you come from; don't exaggerate or make up stories to make yourself sound "cooler" or more interesting—99% of the time, admissions committees will see right through it! Remember: admissions committees read thousands of applications, so they can spot a fake story a mile away.

Next, here's what Wellesley College says about the purpose of college essays:

Let the Board of Admission discover:

  • More about you as a person.
  • The side of you not shown by SATs and grades.
  • Your history, attitudes, interests, and creativity.
  • Your values and goals—what sets you apart.

It's important to not only be authentic but to also showcase "what sets you apart" from other applicants—that is, what makes you you . This is especially important when you consider how many applications admissions committees go through each year. If you don't stand out in some positive way, you'll likely end up in the crapshoot , significantly reducing or even eliminating your chances of admission .

And finally, here's some advice from the University of Michigan on writing essays for college:

Your college essay will be one of nearly 50,000 that we'll be reading in admissions—use this opportunity to your advantage. Your essay gives us insights into your personality; it helps us determine if your relationship with the school will be mutually beneficial.

So tell us what faculty you'd like to work with, or what research you're interested in. Tell us why you're a leader—or how you overcame adversity in your life. Tell us why this is the school for you. Tell us your story.

Overall, the most important characteristic colleges are looking for in the diversity essay (as well as in any college essay you submit) is authenticity. Colleges want to know who you are and how you got here; they also want to see what makes you memorable and what you can bring to the school.


An excellent diversity essay will represent some aspect of your identity in a sincere, authentic way.

How to Write an Effective Diversity Essay: Four Tips

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

Ah, there's that word again: authentic . Although 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 OK 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, edit 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.

#4: Take Your Time

Our final tip is to give yourself plenty of time to actually write your diversity essay. Usually, college applications are due around December or January , so it's a good idea to start your essay early, ideally in the summer before your senior year (and before classes and homework begin eating up your time).

Starting early also lets you gain some perspective on your diversity essay . Here's how to do this: once you've written a rough draft or even just a couple of paragraphs of your essay, put it away for a few days. Once this time passes, take out your essay again and reread it with a fresh perspective. Try to determine whether it still has the impact you wanted it to have. Ask yourself, "Does this essay sound like the real me or someone else? Are some areas a little too cheesy? Could I add more or less detail to certain paragraphs?"

Finally, giving yourself lots of time to write your diversity essay means you can have more people read it and offer comments and edits on it . This is crucial for producing an effective diversity college essay.

Conclusion: Writing Diversity Essays for College

A diversity essay is a college admissions essay that r evolves around an applicant's background and identity, usually within the context of a particular community. This community can refer to race or ethnicity, income level, neighborhood, school, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc.

Many colleges—such as the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, and Duke—use the diversity essay to ensure diversity in their student bodies . Some schools require the essay; others accept it as an optional application component.

If you'll be writing diversity essays for college, be sure to do the following when writing your essay to give yourself a higher chance of admission:

  • Think about what makes you unique: Try to pinpoint an experience or opinion you have that'll separate you from the rest of the crowd in an interesting, positive way.
  • Be honest and authentic:  Avoid exaggerating or lying about your feelings and experiences.
  • Write clearly, correctly, and cogently:  Edit, proofread, and get someone else to look over your essay.
  • Take your time: Start early, preferably during the summer before your senior year, so you can have more time to make changes and get feedback from others.

With that, I wish you the best of luck on your diversity essay!


What's Next?

You understand how to write a diversity essay— but what about a "Why this college?" essay ? What about a general personal statement ? Our guides explain what these essays are and how you can produce amazing responses for your applications.

Want more samples of college essay prompts? Read dozens of real prompts with our guide and learn how to answer them effectively.

Curious about what a good college essay actually looks like? Then check out our analysis of 100+ college essays and what makes them memorable .

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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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what is a diversity essay

How to Write a Diversity Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide for Impactful Narratives

what is a diversity essay

Diversity refers to the presence and acceptance of a variety of individual differences within a group or community. These differences can encompass aspects such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, abilities, and more. 

Embracing diversity in college involves recognizing and valuing these distinctions, fostering inclusivity, and creating an environment where everyone is respected and has equal opportunities.

In this article, you will learn about the definition of diversity essay and receive valuable writing hints, as well as interesting topic ideas. Keep in mind that at any moment, you can ask us, ‘ Write my papers ,’ and we’ll match you with a competent writer in seconds. 

What Is a Diversity Essay

Diversity essays serve as a profound exploration of an individual's distinctive experiences, perspectives, and contributions within the context of diversity. These essays, commonly encountered in academic and application settings like college admissions or job applications, offer a platform to articulate how one's background, identity, or life experiences enrich and contribute to a diverse and inclusive environment. 

This reflective narrative, unrestricted by a specific word limit, delves into personal challenges, triumphs, and the transformative influence of diversity in fostering understanding and personal development. Beyond individual stories, diversity essays underscore the broader significance of embracing differences, contributing to the creation of vibrant, tolerant communities. 

Creating a diversity essay is an opportunity for individuals to authentically express themselves, conveying the profound impact of diversity on their lives and perspectives.

Why a Diversity Essay Is Assigned to Students

Colleges encourage students to write diversity essays as a means of fostering a rich and inclusive academic environment. These essays provide applicants with an opportunity to express their unique perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, contributing to the diverse tapestry of the campus community. Admissions officers seek a holistic view of applicants, and diversity essays offer valuable insights into an individual's character, values, and the impact of their experiences on their worldview.

By actively seeking diversity, colleges aim to create a vibrant and inclusive learning environment where students encounter a variety of perspectives, ideas, and cultures. Embracing diversity enhances the educational experience by promoting cross-cultural understanding, tolerance, and a broader worldview among students. It also prepares them for engagement in a globalized society where diverse perspectives and collaboration are essential.

All in all, colleges value diversity essays as a means of selecting students who will contribute to the inclusive and dynamic educational communities they strive to cultivate. If you don’t feel confident enough to write this type of composition, feel free to take advantage of custom research paper writing – it’s the fastest way to get the task done. 

Why Creating a Diversity Essay Is So Important in College

A diversity essay holds significance for several reasons, playing a crucial role in various contexts such as college admissions, job applications, or scholarship opportunities. Here are key reasons why a diversity essay is important:

1. Showcasing Individuality: A diversity essay allows individuals to present their unique experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds, highlighting what makes them distinct.

2. Contributing to Inclusivity: In academic and professional settings, diversity enriches the learning or working environment. Essays articulate how an individual's background can contribute to a diverse and inclusive community.

3. Promoting Understanding: By sharing personal stories, challenges, and triumphs related to diversity, individuals contribute to a broader understanding of different cultures, identities, and life experiences.

4. Community Building: In educational institutions and workplaces, diversity essays aid in forming communities that celebrate differences, fostering a supportive and respectful atmosphere.

5. Enhancing Applications: In college admissions or job applications, a well-crafted diversity essay can set an applicant apart, demonstrating qualities such as resilience, open-mindedness, and adaptability.

6. Preparing for Global Engagement: In an interconnected world, understanding and appreciating diversity is essential. Writing a diversity essay equips individuals with the ability to navigate and contribute to diverse and multicultural environments.


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20 Interesting Diversity Topic Ideas

Explore a rich tapestry of perspectives and experiences with these intriguing ideas for diversity topics. From navigating dual identities to championing inclusivity, each topic invites thoughtful exploration into the various facets that shape our diverse world.

  • Cultural kaleidoscope.
  • Navigating dual identities.
  • Language as a bridge.
  • Beyond borders.
  • Empathy through experience.
  • Championing inclusivity.
  • Intersectionality in identity.
  • Overcoming stereotypes.
  • Family traditions.
  • Educational odyssey.
  • Cultural exchange impact.
  • Artistic expressions.
  • Resilience in adversity.
  • Community engagement.
  • Navigating generational differences.
  • LGBTQ+ narratives.
  • Global perspectives through travel.
  • Environmental activism.
  • Technology and global connection.
  • Reflection on privilege.

Writing Tips to Consider

When writing a diversity essay, consider highlighting unique experiences, perspectives, and contributions. Emphasize personal growth and the impact of diversity on your worldview. Share specific examples that showcase your understanding of diverse backgrounds. Address challenges and how you've overcome them, demonstrating resilience. Connect your experiences to your goals and how diversity enriches your academic and personal journey. 

Conclude by emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and your commitment to contributing to diverse communities. As an example, please check out an article about the first black woman in space . 

Keep the Essay’s Focus on You

Keeping the focus on yourself when writing a diversity essay is crucial because the essay aims to provide insights into the student's personal experiences, perspectives, and growth. By focusing on their own journey, students can authentically share how diversity has influenced their lives, values, and understanding of the world. This approach allows for a genuine and reflective exploration of the impact of diversity on the individual, showcasing their unique story and contributions. 

It enables admissions committees to gain a deeper understanding of the student's character, resilience, and commitment to fostering an inclusive environment. Ultimately, keeping the narrative personal enhances the authenticity and effectiveness of the essay.

Speak From Your Own Experience 

Speaking from one's own experience when learning how to write a diversity essay is essential because it adds authenticity and depth to the narrative. Sharing personal experiences allows students to convey genuine insights into how diversity has shaped their perspectives, values, and identity. By drawing from their unique encounters and challenges, students can provide a real and relatable account of the impact of diversity on their lives. 

This approach helps admissions committees connect with the individual on a more profound level, fostering a better understanding of their journey and the lessons learned. It also demonstrates the student's ability to reflect on personal growth and contributes to a more compelling and impactful diversity essay.

Explain How Your Background or Identity Has Affected Your Life

When writing a diversity essay, students should explain how their background or identity has affected their lives to provide context and insight into their personal journey. By elucidating the influence of their background or identity, students can showcase the unique perspectives, challenges, and experiences that have contributed to their growth and development. 

This allows admissions committees to understand the specific ways in which diversity has shaped the individual's character, values, and outlook on the world. It also highlights the student's ability to reflect on the broader implications of their background, emphasizing the richness and depth that diversity brings to their life story. Ultimately, explaining the impact of background or identity adds a layer of authenticity and depth to the diversity essay, making it more compelling and resonant.

Did you know that students buy essay papers three times out of five? That’s because the college workload is pretty heavy, and free time is a rare commodity. In addition, some topics might not resonate at all, like diversity or bullying. That’s why professional writers are always there for you to assist. 

How to Write a Diversity Essay Step by Step

Writing a diversity essay involves weaving a narrative that explores the unique aspects of your background, experiences, and perspectives. Start by reflecting on your identity, considering elements such as cultural background, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or any other defining factors. Share personal anecdotes that highlight challenges, triumphs, or pivotal moments related to your identity. Emphasize the lessons learned and growth experienced through these encounters.

Connect your experiences to broader themes of diversity, inclusion, and societal impact. Showcase how your diverse perspectives contribute to a richer understanding of the world. Articulate a vision for fostering diversity and inclusion in various contexts, whether academic, professional, or community-based.

Craft your essay with clarity, authenticity, and a genuine voice. Make it a compelling narrative that not only communicates your unique story but also resonates with the broader themes of diversity, promoting a deeper understanding of the multifaceted human experience. If anything becomes too difficult or time-consuming, use our assignment writing service to speed the process up.

How to Write an Effective Diversity Essay

Step 1: Do Your Research

Conducting research for a diversity essay involves exploring various sources to enhance your understanding of different perspectives and experiences. Begin by reading literature, articles, or academic papers on diversity-related topics to gain insights into the broader discourse. Engage with diverse voices from authors, scholars, and activists who share experiences or provide analysis in areas relevant to your essay.

Utilize online databases, libraries, and educational platforms to access a wide range of resources. Interview individuals with diverse backgrounds to gather firsthand accounts and personal narratives that can enrich your essay. Attend relevant events, workshops, or lectures to expand your knowledge and engage with diverse viewpoints.

Stay informed about current events and societal discussions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Follow reputable news sources, journals, and community organizations to stay updated on evolving perspectives and challenges. Incorporate credible research findings into your essay to substantiate your arguments and present a well-rounded perspective on diversity issues. Have you already checked our women in stem article? You should definitely do it!

Step 2: Craft an Outline

Creating an outline for diversity essays involves structuring your thoughts to present a cohesive narrative. Here's an example:


  • Start with a compelling hook or anecdote related to diversity.
  • Introduce the significance of diversity and its impact on individuals and communities.
  • Clearly state your thesis or the main idea you will explore in the essay.

Body Paragraphs:

Paragraph 1: Personal Background

  • Share your personal background, including cultural, ethnic, or other relevant identities.
  • Discuss how your background has shaped your perspectives.

Paragraph 2: Experiences and Challenges

  • Highlight specific experiences or challenges related to diversity that you've encountered.
  • Reflect on how these experiences have influenced your worldview.

Paragraph 3: Contributions to Diversity

  • Share instances where you've contributed to promoting diversity or fostering inclusion.
  • Discuss any initiatives, projects, or activities you've undertaken.


  • Summarize the key points discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Reiterate the importance of diversity and your commitment to fostering an inclusive environment.

End your essay with a strong concluding statement that reinforces the significance of embracing diversity. This structure provides a narrative flow, allowing your essay to unfold naturally while addressing key aspects of diversity.

Step 3: Follow These Writing Tips

To elevate your essay and make it stand out, consider incorporating the following tips into your writing process:

  • Begin by reflecting on your own experiences, beliefs, and values related to diversity.
  • Share a personal story or unique perspective that highlights your understanding of diversity.
  • Write authentically about your experiences, avoiding clichés or trying to fit into preconceived notions.
  • Consider the experiences and perspectives of your readers to make your essay relatable.
  • Discuss how your encounters with diversity have contributed to personal growth and understanding.
  • Describe the impact of diversity on your life and how it has shaped your identity.
  • If applicable, showcase your contributions to promoting diversity and inclusion.
  • While discussing challenges, focus on positive outcomes and lessons learned.
  • Be mindful of perpetuating stereotypes and strive for a nuanced and respectful portrayal.
  • Carefully edit your essay for clarity and coherence, ensuring it effectively conveys your message.

Remember that in college, you should also learn how to write a speech . This guide will help you figure out the essentials of writing speeches that resonate and engage the audience.

Diversity Essay Examples

You can choose a diversity essay example that you like and use it as inspiration for your own work:

Diversity essays are more than a requirement; they're an opportunity for self-discovery and understanding. This assignment delves into our experiences, unraveling the richness within our perspectives. Exploring cultural kaleidoscopes, dual identities, and personal narratives, writing about diversity becomes a transformative act. 

In this guide, we showed you how to write a diversity essay, providing insights into weaving personal stories into compelling narratives. By following these tips, we contribute to fostering understanding and appreciation for diversity. Beyond grades, this assignment impacts our growth and the broader societal conversation. Once you enter college, make it a good habit to buy an argumentative essay and save your time and energy for more engaging student activities. 

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Frequently asked questions

What is a diversity essay.

In addition to your main college essay , some schools and scholarships may ask for a supplementary essay focused on an aspect of your identity or background. This is sometimes called a diversity essay .

Frequently asked questions: College admissions essays

When writing your Common App essay , choose a prompt that sparks your interest and that you can connect to a unique personal story.

No matter which prompt you choose, admissions officers are more interested in your ability to demonstrate personal development , insight, or motivation for a certain area of study.

The Common App essay is your primary writing sample within the Common Application, a college application portal accepted by more than 900 schools. All your prospective schools that accept the Common App will read this essay to understand your character, background, and value as a potential student.

Since this essay is read by many colleges, avoid mentioning any college names or programs; instead, save tailored answers for the supplementary school-specific essays within the Common App.

Most importantly, your essay should be about you , not another person or thing. An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability.

Your essay shouldn’t be a résumé of your experiences but instead should tell a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.

When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding your message and content. Then, check for flow, tone, style , and clarity. Finally, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors .

If your college essay goes over the word count limit , cut any sentences with tangents or irrelevant details. Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay.

If you’re struggling to reach the word count for your college essay, add vivid personal stories or share your feelings and insight to give your essay more depth and authenticity.

If you’ve got to write your college essay fast , don’t panic. First, set yourself deadlines: you should spend about 10% of your remaining time on brainstorming, 10% on outlining, 40% writing, 30% revising, and 10% taking breaks in between stages.

Second, brainstorm stories and values based on your essay prompt.

Third, outline your essay based on the montage or narrative essay structure .

Fourth, write specific, personal, and unique stories that would be hard for other students to replicate.

Fifth, revise your essay and make sure it’s clearly written.

Last, if possible, get feedback from an essay coach . Scribbr essay editors can help you revise your essay in 12 hours or less.

Avoid swearing in a college essay , since admissions officers’ opinions of profanity will vary. In some cases, it might be okay to use a vulgar word, such as in dialogue or quotes that make an important point in your essay. However, it’s safest to try to make the same point without swearing.

If you have bad grades on your transcript, you may want to use your college admissions essay to explain the challenging circumstances that led to them. Make sure to avoid dwelling on the negative aspects and highlight how you overcame the situation or learned an important lesson.

However, some college applications offer an additional information section where you can explain your bad grades, allowing you to choose another meaningful topic for your college essay.

Here’s a brief list of college essay topics that may be considered cliché:

  • Extracurriculars, especially sports
  • Role models
  • Dealing with a personal tragedy or death in the family
  • Struggling with new life situations (immigrant stories, moving homes, parents’ divorce)
  • Becoming a better person after community service, traveling, or summer camp
  • Overcoming a difficult class
  • Using a common object as an extended metaphor

It’s easier to write a standout essay with a unique topic. However, it’s possible to make a common topic compelling with interesting story arcs, uncommon connections, and an advanced writing style.

Yes. The college application essay is less formal than other academic writing —though of course it’s not mandatory to use contractions in your essay.

In a college essay , you can be creative with your language . When writing about the past, you can use the present tense to make the reader feel as if they were there in the moment with you. But make sure to maintain consistency and when in doubt, default to the correct verb tense according to the time you’re writing about.

The college admissions essay gives admissions officers a different perspective on you beyond your academic achievements, test scores, and extracurriculars. It’s your chance to stand out from other applicants with similar academic profiles by telling a unique, personal, and specific story.

Use a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial to avoid distracting the reader from your college essay’s content.

A college application essay is less formal than most academic writing . Instead of citing sources formally with in-text citations and a reference list, you can cite them informally in your text.

For example, “In her research paper on genetics, Quinn Roberts explores …”

There is no set number of paragraphs in a college admissions essay . College admissions essays can diverge from the traditional five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in English class. Just make sure to stay under the specified word count .

Most topics are acceptable for college essays if you can use them to demonstrate personal growth or a lesson learned. However, there are a few difficult topics for college essays that should be avoided. Avoid topics that are:

  • Overly personal (e.g. graphic details of illness or injury, romantic or sexual relationships)
  • Not personal enough (e.g. broad solutions to world problems, inspiring people or things)
  • Too negative (e.g. an in-depth look at your flaws, put-downs of others, criticizing the need for a college essay)
  • Too boring (e.g. a resume of your academic achievements and extracurriculars)
  • Inappropriate for a college essay (e.g. illegal activities, offensive humor, false accounts of yourself, bragging about privilege)

To write an effective diversity essay , include vulnerable, authentic stories about your unique identity, background, or perspective. Provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your outlook, activities, and goals. If relevant, you should also mention how your background has led you to apply for this university and why you’re a good fit.

Many universities believe a student body composed of different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community, which is why they assign a diversity essay .

You can use humor in a college essay , but carefully consider its purpose and use it wisely. An effective use of humor involves unexpected, keen observations of the everyday, or speaks to a deeper theme. Humor shouldn’t be the main focus of the essay, but rather a tool to improve your storytelling.

Get a second opinion from a teacher, counselor, or essay coach on whether your essay’s humor is appropriate.

Though admissions officers are interested in hearing your story, they’re also interested in how you tell it. An exceptionally written essay will differentiate you from other applicants, meaning that admissions officers will spend more time reading it.

You can use literary devices to catch your reader’s attention and enrich your storytelling; however, focus on using just a few devices well, rather than trying to use as many as possible.

To decide on a good college essay topic , spend time thoughtfully answering brainstorming questions. If you still have trouble identifying topics, try the following two strategies:

  • Identify your qualities → Brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities
  • Identify memorable stories → Connect your qualities to these stories

You can also ask family, friends, or mentors to help you brainstorm topics, give feedback on your potential essay topics, or recall key stories that showcase your qualities.

Yes—admissions officers don’t expect everyone to have a totally unique college essay topic . But you must differentiate your essay from others by having a surprising story arc, an interesting insight, and/or an advanced writing style .

There are no foolproof college essay topics —whatever your topic, the key is to write about it effectively. However, a good topic

  • Is meaningful, specific, and personal to you
  • Focuses on you and your experiences
  • Reveals something beyond your test scores, grades, and extracurriculars
  • Is creative and original

Unlike a five-paragraph essay, your admissions essay should not end by summarizing the points you’ve already made. It’s better to be creative and aim for a strong final impression.

You should also avoid stating the obvious (for example, saying that you hope to be accepted).

There are a few strategies you can use for a memorable ending to your college essay :

  • Return to the beginning with a “full circle” structure
  • Reveal the main point or insight in your story
  • Look to the future
  • End on an action

The best technique will depend on your topic choice, essay outline, and writing style. You can write several endings using different techniques to see which works best.

College deadlines vary depending on the schools you’re applying to and your application plan:

  • For early action applications and the first round of early decision applications, the deadline is on November 1 or 15. Decisions are released by mid-December.
  • For the second round of early decision applications, the deadline is January 1 or 15. Decisions are released in January or February.
  • Regular decision deadlines usually fall between late November and mid-March, and decisions are released in March or April.
  • Rolling admission deadlines run from July to April, and decisions are released around four to eight weeks after submission.

Depending on your prospective schools’ requirements, you may need to submit scores for the SAT or ACT as part of your college application .

Some schools now no longer require students to submit test scores; however, you should still take the SAT or ACT and aim to get a high score to strengthen your application package.

Aim to take the SAT or ACT in the spring of your junior year to give yourself enough time to retake it in the fall of your senior year if necessary.

Apply early for federal student aid and application fee waivers. You can also look for scholarships from schools, corporations, and charitable foundations.

To maximize your options, you should aim to apply to about eight schools:

  • Two reach schools that might be difficult to get into
  • Four match schools that you have a good chance of getting into
  • Two safety schools that you feel confident you’ll get into

The college admissions essay accounts for roughly 25% of the weight of your application .

At highly selective schools, there are four qualified candidates for every spot. While your academic achievements are important, your college admissions essay can help you stand out from other applicants with similar profiles.

In general, for your college application you will need to submit all of the following:

  • Your personal information
  • List of extracurriculars and awards
  • College application essays
  • Transcripts
  • Standardized test scores
  • Recommendation letters.

Different colleges may have specific requirements, so make sure you check exactly what’s expected in the application guidance.

You should start thinking about your college applications the summer before your junior year to give you sufficient time for college visits, taking standardized tests, applying for financial aid , writing essays, and collecting application material.

Yes, but make sure your essay directly addresses the prompt, respects the word count , and demonstrates the organization’s values.

If you plan ahead, you can save time by writing one scholarship essay for multiple prompts with similar questions. In a scholarship tracker spreadsheet, you can group or color-code overlapping essay prompts; then, write a single essay for multiple scholarships. Sometimes, you can even reuse or adapt your main college essay .

You can start applying for scholarships as early as your junior year. Continue applying throughout your senior year.

Invest time in applying for various scholarships , especially local ones with small dollar amounts, which are likely easier to win and more reflective of your background and interests. It will be easier for you to write an authentic and compelling essay if the scholarship topic is meaningful to you.

You can find scholarships through your school counselor, community network, or an internet search.

A scholarship essay requires you to demonstrate your values and qualities while answering the prompt’s specific question.

After researching the scholarship organization, identify a personal experience that embodies its values and exemplifies how you will be a successful student.

A standout college essay has several key ingredients:

  • A unique, personally meaningful topic
  • A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook
  • Specific stories and language that show instead of telling
  • Vulnerability that’s authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy
  • Clear writing in an appropriate style and tone
  • A conclusion that offers deep insight or a creative ending

While timelines will differ depending on the student, plan on spending at least 1–3 weeks brainstorming and writing the first draft of your college admissions essay , and at least 2–4 weeks revising across multiple drafts. Don’t forget to save enough time for breaks between each writing and editing stage.

You should already begin thinking about your essay the summer before your senior year so that you have plenty of time to try out different topics and get feedback on what works.

Your college essay accounts for about 25% of your application’s weight. It may be the deciding factor in whether you’re accepted, especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurricular track records.

In most cases, quoting other people isn’t a good way to start your college essay . Admissions officers want to hear your thoughts about yourself, and quotes often don’t achieve that. Unless a quote truly adds something important to your essay that it otherwise wouldn’t have, you probably shouldn’t include it.

Cliché openers in a college essay introduction are usually general and applicable to many students and situations. Most successful introductions are specific: they only work for the unique essay that follows.

The key to a strong college essay introduction is not to give too much away. Try to start with a surprising statement or image that raises questions and compels the reader to find out more.

The introduction of your college essay is the first thing admissions officers will read and therefore your most important opportunity to stand out. An excellent introduction will keep admissions officers reading, allowing you to tell them what you want them to know.

You can speed up this process by shortening and smoothing your writing with a paraphrasing tool . After that, you can use the summarizer to shorten it even more.

If you’re struggling to reach the word count for your college essay, add vivid personal stories or share your feelings and insight to give your essay more depth and authenticity.

Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit to write a developed and thoughtful essay.

You should aim to stay under the specified word count limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, don’t write too little, as it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a detailed and insightful narrative about yourself.

If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

In your application essay , admissions officers are looking for particular features : they want to see context on your background, positive traits that you could bring to campus, and examples of you demonstrating those qualities.

Colleges want to be able to differentiate students who seem similar on paper. In the college application essay , they’re looking for a way to understand each applicant’s unique personality and experiences.

You don’t need a title for your college admissions essay , but you can include one if you think it adds something important.

Your college essay’s format should be as simple as possible:

  • Use a standard, readable font
  • Use 1.5 or double spacing
  • If attaching a file, save it as a PDF
  • Stick to the word count
  • Avoid unusual formatting and unnecessary decorative touches

There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay , but these are two common structures that work:

  • A montage structure, a series of vignettes with a common theme.
  • A narrative structure, a single story that shows your personal growth or how you overcame a challenge.

Avoid the five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in high school.

Campus visits are always helpful, but if you can’t make it in person, the college website will have plenty of information for you to explore. You should look through the course catalog and even reach out to current faculty with any questions about the school.

Colleges set a “Why this college?” essay because they want to see that you’ve done your research. You must prove that you know what makes the school unique and can connect that to your own personal goals and academic interests.

Depending on your writing, you may go through several rounds of revision . Make sure to put aside your essay for a little while after each editing stage to return with a fresh perspective.

Teachers and guidance counselors can help you check your language, tone, and content . Ask for their help at least one to two months before the submission deadline, as many other students will also want their help.

Friends and family are a good resource to check for authenticity. It’s best to seek help from family members with a strong writing or English educational background, or from older siblings and cousins who have been through the college admissions process.

If possible, get help from an essay coach or editor ; they’ll have specialized knowledge of college admissions essays and be able to give objective expert feedback.

When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding message, flow, tone, style , and clarity. Then, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors.

Include specific, personal details and use your authentic voice to shed a new perspective on a common human experience.

Through specific stories, you can weave your achievements and qualities into your essay so that it doesn’t seem like you’re bragging from a resume.

When writing about yourself , including difficult experiences or failures can be a great way to show vulnerability and authenticity, but be careful not to overshare, and focus on showing how you matured from the experience.

First, spend time reflecting on your core values and character . You can start with these questions:

  • What are three words your friends or family would use to describe you, and why would they choose them?
  • Whom do you admire most and why?
  • What are you most proud of? Ashamed of?

However, you should do a comprehensive brainstorming session to fully understand your values. Also consider how your values and goals match your prospective university’s program and culture. Then, brainstorm stories that illustrate the fit between the two.

In a college application essay , you can occasionally bend grammatical rules if doing so adds value to the storytelling process and the essay maintains clarity.

However, use standard language rules if your stylistic choices would otherwise distract the reader from your overall narrative or could be easily interpreted as unintentional errors.

Write concisely and use the active voice to maintain a quick pace throughout your essay and make sure it’s the right length . Avoid adding definitions unless they provide necessary explanation.

Use first-person “I” statements to speak from your perspective . Use appropriate word choices that show off your vocabulary but don’t sound like you used a thesaurus. Avoid using idioms or cliché expressions by rewriting them in a creative, original way.

If you’re an international student applying to a US college and you’re comfortable using American idioms or cultural references , you can. But instead of potentially using them incorrectly, don’t be afraid to write in detail about yourself within your own culture.

Provide context for any words, customs, or places that an American admissions officer might be unfamiliar with.

College application essays are less formal than other kinds of academic writing . Use a conversational yet respectful tone , as if speaking with a teacher or mentor. Be vulnerable about your feelings, thoughts, and experiences to connect with the reader.

Aim to write in your authentic voice , with a style that sounds natural and genuine. You can be creative with your word choice, but don’t use elaborate vocabulary to impress admissions officers.

Admissions officers use college admissions essays to evaluate your character, writing skills , and ability to self-reflect . The essay is your chance to show what you will add to the academic community.

The college essay may be the deciding factor in your application , especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurriculars.

Some colleges also require supplemental essays about specific topics, such as why you chose that specific college . Scholarship essays are often required to obtain financial aid .

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How to Write a College Diversity Essay – Examples & Tips

what is a diversity essay

What is a diversity essay for college?

If you are preparing for your college application, you have probably heard that you sometimes need to submit a “diversity essay,” and you might be wondering how this is different from the usual admission essay. A diversity essay is a college admissions essay that focuses on the applicant’s background, identity, culture, beliefs, or relationship with a specific community, on what makes an applicant unique, and on how they might bring a fresh perspective or new insights to a school’s student body. Colleges let applicants write such essays to ensure diversity in their campus communities, to improve everyone’s learning experience, or to determine who might be eligible for scholarships that are offered to students from generally underrepresented backgrounds. 

Some colleges list the essay as one of their main requirements to apply, while others give you the option to add it to your application if you wish to do so. At other schools, it is simply your “personal statement”—but the prompts you are given can make it an essay on the topic of diversity in your life and how that has shaped who you are.

To write a diversity essay, you need to think about what makes you uniquely you: What significant experiences have you made, because of your background, that might separate you from other applicants? Sometimes that is obvious, but sometimes it is easy to assume our experiences are normal just because we are part of a community that shares the same circumstances, beliefs, or experiences. But if you look at your life from the perspective of someone who is not part of that community, such as an admissions officer, they can suddenly be not-so-common and help you stand out from the crowd.

Diversity Essay Examples and Topics

Diversity essays come in all shapes and formats, but what they need to do is highlight an important aspect of your identity, background, culture, viewpoints, beliefs, goals, etc. You could, for example, write about one of the following topics:

  • Your home country/hometown
  • Your cultural/immigration background
  • Your race/ethnicity
  • Your unique family circumstances
  • Your religion/belief system
  • Your socioeconomic background
  • Your disability
  • Your sex/gender
  • Your sexual orientation
  • Your gender identity
  • Your values/opinions
  • Your experiences
  • Your extracurricular activities related to diversity

In the following, we ask some general questions to make you start reflecting on what diversity might mean for you and your life, and we present you with excerpts from several successful diversity-related application essays that will give you an idea about the range of topics you can write about.

How does diversity make you who you are as a person or student?

We usually want to fit in, especially when we are young, and you might not even realize that you and your life experiences could add to the diversity of a student campus. You might think that you are just like everyone around you. Or you might think that your background is nothing to brag about and are not really comfortable showcasing it. But looking at you and your life from the point of view of someone who is not part of your community, your background, culture, or family situation might actually be unique and interesting. 

What makes admission committees see the unique and interesting in your life is an authentic story, maybe even a bit vulnerable, about your lived experiences and the lessons you learned from them that other people who lived other lifes did not have the chance to learn. Don’t try to explain how you are different from others or how you have been more privileged or less fortunate than others—let your story do that. Keep the focus on yourself, your actions, thoughts, and feelings, and allow the reader a glimpse into your culture, upbringing, or community that gives them some intriguing insights. 

Have a look at the excerpt below from a diversity essay that got an applicant into Cornell University . This is just the introduction, but there is probably no admissions officer who would not want to keep reading after such a fascinating entry. 

He’s in my arms, the newest addition to the family. I’m too overwhelmed. “That’s why I wanted you to go to Bishop Loughlin,” she says, preparing baby bottles. “But ma, I chose Tech because I wanted to be challenged.” “Well, you’re going to have to deal with it,” she replies, adding, “Your aunt watched you when she was in high school.” “But ma, there are three of them. It’s hard!” Returning home from a summer program that cemented intellectual and social independence to find a new baby was not exactly thrilling. Add him to the toddler and seven-year-old sister I have and there’s no wonder why I sing songs from Blue’s Clues and The Backyardigans instead of sane seventeen-year-old activities. It’s never been simple; as a female and the oldest, I’m to significantly rear the children and clean up the shabby apartment before an ounce of pseudo freedom reaches my hands. If I can manage to get my toddler brother onto the city bus and take him home from daycare without snot on my shoulder, and if I can manage to take off his coat and sneakers without demonic screaming for no apparent reason, then it’s a good day. Only, waking up at three in the morning to work, the only free time I have, is not my cup of Starbucks.  Excerpt from “All Worth It”, Anonymous, published in 50 Successful IVY LEAGUE Application Essays Fourth Edition, Gen & Kelly Tanabe, SuperCollege, 2017 .

How has your identity or background affected your life?

On top of sharing a relevant personal story, you also need to make sure that your essay illustrates how your lived experience has influenced your perspective, your life choices, or your goals. If you can explain how your background or experience led you to apply to the school you want to submit the essay to, and why you would be a great fit for that school, even better. 

You don’t need to fit all of that into one short essay, though. Just make sure to end your essay with some conclusions about the things your life has taught you that will give the admissions committee a better idea of who you now are—like the author of the following (winning) admissions essay submitted to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) .

[…] I always thought that I had it the worst out of all my family members because I was never allowed to get anything lower than what my brother or a cousin had gotten in a class. My parents figured if they could do it, so could I, and if not on my own then with a little of their help. It was not until recently that I realized the truth in this. In my short life I have seen my father go from speaking no English to excelling in it. I have heard countless stories about migrant farmers such as Cesar Chavez and my grandfather who had nearly nothing, yet persisted and succeeded. […] When I had trouble speaking Spanish and felt like abandoning my native tongue, I remembered my mother and how when she came to the United States she was forced to wash her mouth out with soap and endure beatings with a ruler by the nuns at her school for speaking it. When I couldn’t figure out tangents, sines, and cosines I thought about my father and how it took him nearly a year to learn long division because he was forced to teach it to himself after dropping out and starting to work in the 4th grade. […] All these people, just from my family, have been strong role models for me. I feel that being labeled “underprivileged” does not mean that I am limited in what I can do. There is no reason for me to fail or give up, and like my parents and grandparents have done, I’ve been able to pull through a great deal. My environment has made me determined, hard working, and high aiming. I would not like it any other way. From “Lessons From the Immigration Spectrum”, Anonymous, MIT, published in 50 Successful IVY LEAGUE Application Essays Fourth Edition, Gen & Kelly Tanabe, SuperCollege, 2017 .

How will your diversity contribute to the college campus and community?

The admissions committee would like to know how your identity or background will enrich the university’s existing student body. If you haven’t done so, researching the university’s organizations and groups and what specific courses the university offers might be a good idea. If you are applying to a large public school, you could mention that you are looking forward to broadening not just your horizon but also your community. Or maybe your college of choice has a specialized program or student organization that you feel you will fit right into and that you could contribute to with your unique background.

Tailoring your answer to the university you are applying to shows that you are serious and have done your research, and a university is obviously looking for such students. If you can’t find a way to make your essay “match” the university, then don’t despair—showing the admissions committee that you are someone who already made some important experiences, has reflected on them, and is eager to learn more and contribute to their community is often all that is needed. But you also don’t need to search for the most sophisticated outro or conclusion, as the following excerpt shows, from an admission essay written by an applicant named Angelica, who was accepted into the University of Chicago . Sometimes a simple conviction is convincing enough. 

[…] The knowledge that I have gained from these three schools is something I will take with me far beyond college. My roommate, across-the-hall mates, and classmates have influenced my life as much as I hope to have impacted theirs. It is evident to me that they have helped me develop into the very much visible person I am today. I have learned to step outside of my comfort zone, and I have learned that diversity is so much more than the tint of our skin. My small mustard-colored school taught me that opportunity and success only requires desire. I would be an asset to your college because as I continue on my journey to success, I will take advantage of every opportunity that is available to me and make sure to contribute as much as I can, too. Now I am visible. Now I am visible. Now I am visible, and I want to be seen. From “No Longer Invisible” by Angelica, University of Chicago, published in 50 Successful IVY LEAGUE Application Essays Fourth Edition, Gen & Kelly Tanabe, SuperCollege, 2017 .

how to write a diversity essay, small globe being held, kids in a hallway

Tell stories about your lived experience

You might wonder how exactly to go about writing stories about your “lived experience.” The first step, after getting drawing inspiration from other people’s stories, is to sit down and reflect on your own life and what might be interesting about it, from the point of view of someone outside of your direct environment or community.

Two straightforward approaches for a diversity-related essay are to either focus on your community or on your identity . The first one is more related to what you were born into (and what it taught you), and the second one focuses on how you see yourself, as an individual but also as part of society.

Take some time to sit down and reflect on which of these two approaches you relate to more and which one you think you have more to say about. And then we’d recommend you do what always helps when we sit in front of a blank page that needs to be filled: Make a list or draw a chart or create a map of keywords that can become the cornerstones of your story.

For example, if you choose the “community” approach, then start with a list of all the communities that you are a part of. These communities can be defined by different factors:

  • A shared place: people live or work together
  • Shared actions: People create something together or solve problems together
  • Shared interests: People come together based on interests, hobbies, or goals
  • Shared circumstances: people are brought together by chance or by events

Once you have that list, pick one of your communities and start asking yourself more specific questions. For example: 

  • What did you do as a member of that community? 
  • What kinds of problems did you solve , for your community or together?
  • Did you feel like you had an impact ? What was it?
  • What did you learn or realize ? 
  • How are you going to apply what you learned outside of that community?

If, instead, you choose the “identity” approach, then think about different ways in which you think about yourself and make a list of those. For example:

My identity is as a… 

  • boy scout leader
  • hobby writer
  • babysitter for my younger siblings
  • speaker of different languages
  • collector of insightful proverbs
  • Japanese-American
  • other roles in your family, community, or social sub-group

Feel free to list as many identities as you can. Then, think about what different sides of you these identities reveal and which ones you have not yet shown or addressed in your other application documents and essays. Think about whether one of these is more important to you than others if there is one that you’d rather like to hide (and why) and if there is any struggle, for example with reconciling all of these sides of yourself or with one of them not being accepted by your culture or environment.

Overall, the most important characteristic admissions committees are looking for in your diversity essay is authenticity . They want to know who you are, behind your SATs and grades, and how you got where you are now, and they want to see what makes you memorable (remember, they have to read thousands of essays to decide who to enroll). 

The admissions committee members likely also have a “sixth sense” about whose essay is authentic and whose is not. But if you go through a creative process like the one outlined here, you will automatically reflect on your background and experiences in a way that will bring out your authenticity and honesty and prevent you from just making up a “cool story.”

Diversity Essay Sample Prompts From Colleges

If you are still not sure how to write a diversity essay, let’s have a look at some of the actual diversity essay prompts that colleges include in their applications. 

Diversity Essay Sample #1: University of California

The University of California asks applicants to choose between eight prompts (they call them “ personal insight questions “) and submit four short essays of up to 350 words each that tell the admission committee what you would want them to know about you . These prompts ask about your creative side (#2), your greatest talent (#3), and other aspects of your personality, but two of them (#5 and #7) are what could be called “diversity essay prompts” that ask you to talk about the most significant challenge you have faced and what you have done to make your community a better place .

The University of California website also offers advice on how to use these prompts and how to write a compelling essay, so make sure you use all the guidance they give you if that is the school you are trying to get into!

UC Essay prompt #5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

UC Essay prompt #7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team, or place—like your high school, hometown, or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community? Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? 

Diversity Essay Sample #2: Duke University

Duke University asks for a one-page essay in response to either one of the Common Application prompts or one of the Coalition Application prompts, as well as a short essay that answers a question specific to Duke. 

In addition, you can (but do not have to) submit up to two short answers to four prompts that specifically ask about your unique experiences, your beliefs and values, and your background and identity. The maximum word count for each of these short essays on diversity topics is 250 words.

Essay prompt #1. We seek a diverse student body that embodies the wide range of human experience. In that context, we are interested in what you’d like to share about your lived experiences and how they’ve influenced how you think of yourself. Essay prompt #2. We believe there is benefit in sharing and sometimes questioning our beliefs or values; who do you agree with on the big important things, or who do you have your most interesting disagreements with? What are you agreeing or disagreeing about? Essay prompt #3. What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good? Essay prompt #4. Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. If you’d like to share with us more about your identity in this context, feel free to do so here.

Duke University is looking for students with a variety of different experiences, backgrounds, interests, and opinions to make its campus community diverse and a place where ambition and curiosity, talent and persistence can grow, and the admissions committee will “consider what you have accomplished within the context of your opportunities and challenges so far”—make sure you tell them!

Diversity Essay Sample #3: University of Washington

The University of Washington asks students for a long essay (650 words) on a general experience that shaped your character, a short essay (300 words) that describes the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of your future university and allows you to submit additional information on potential hardships or limitations you have experienced in attaining your education so far. The University of Washington freshman writing website also offers some tips on how to (and how not to) write and format your essays.

Essay prompt [required] Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

Short response prompt [required] Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. “Community” might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW.

Additional information about yourself or your circumstances [optional] You are not required to write anything in this section, but you may include additional information if something has particular significance to you. For example, you may use this space if:

– You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education

– Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations

– You have experienced limitations/opportunities unique to the schools you attended

The University of Washington’s mission is to enroll undergraduates with outstanding intellectual abilities who bring different perspectives, backgrounds, and talents to the campus to create a “stimulating educational environment”. The diversity essay is your chance to let them know how you will contribute to that.

Diversity Essay Sample #4: University of Michigan

At the University of Michigan, a diversity college essay that describes one of the communities (defined by geography, religion, ethnicity, income, or other factors) you belong to is one of two required essays that need to be submitted by all applicants, on top of the Common Application essay. 

Diversity essay prompt. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

The University of Michigan prides itself in “looking at each student as a whole package” and recruiting the most dynamic students, with different backgrounds, interests, and passions, into their college, not just the ones with the highest test scores. They also give consideration to applicants from currently underrepresented groups to create diversity on campus and enrich the learning environment for all students—if that sounds like you, then here is your opportunity to tell your story!

Frequently Asked Questions about Diversity Essays

What topics should i avoid in my college diversity essay.

Since the point of a diversity essay is to show the admissions committee who you are (behind your grades and resume and general educational background), there are not many topics you need to avoid. In fact, you can address the issues, from your own perspective, that you are usually told not to mention in order not to offend anyone or create controversy. 

The only exception is any kind of criminal activity, especially child abuse and neglect. The University of Washington, for example, has a statement on its essay prompt website that “ any written materials that give admissions staff reasonable cause to believe abuse or neglect of someone under the age of 18 may have occurred must be reported to Child Protective Services or the police. ”

What is most important to focus on in my diversity essay?

In brief, to stand out while not giving the admissions committee any reason to believe that you are exaggerating or even making things up. Your story needs to be authentic, and admissions officers—who read thousands of applications—will probably see right through you if you are trying to make yourself sound cooler, more mature, or more interesting than you are. 

In addition, make sure you let someone, preferably a professional editor, read over your essays and make sure they are well-written and error-free. Even though you are telling your personal story, it needs to be presented in standard, formal, correct English.

How long should a diversity essay be?

Every school has different requirements for their version of a diversity essay, and you will find all the necessary details on their admissions or essay prompts website. Make sure you check the word limit and other guidelines before you start typing away!

Prepare your college diversity essay for admission

Now that you know what a diversity essay is and how you find the specific requirements for the essays you need to submit to your school of choice, make sure you plan in advance and give yourself enough time to put all your effort into it! Our article How to Write the Common App Essay can give you an idea about timelines and creative preparation methods. And as always, we can help you with our professional editing services , including Application Essay Editing Services and Admission Editing Services , to ensure that your entire application is error-free and showcases your potential to the admissions committee of your school of choice.

For more academic resources on writing the statement of purpose for grad school or on the college admission process in general, head over to our Admissions Resources website where we have many more articles and videos to help you improve your essay writing skills.

what is a diversity essay

Step by Step Guide To Write a Diversity Essay (Examples + Analysis)

what is a diversity essay

What is a Diversity essay? 

First, let’s understand the diversity question in a school application, and more significantly, what is the value when applying to leading programs and universities?

A diversity essay is an essay that inspires applicants with minority backgrounds, unique experiences, special education, or bizarre family histories to write about how these factors will contribute to the diversity of their target school’s class and community.

Several schools have a supplemental essay prompt that requires students to speculate on their experiences and show how those experiences would enable them to add to the diversity of a college community.

For example, let’s look at Duke’s optional* diversity prompt:

(Optional) Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better-perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250-word limit)

*While this prompt is optional, our team would not recommend you to treat this prompt as optional —it’s a huge opportunity to help yourself stand out from other candidates. 

Or Caltech’s:

The process of discovery best advances when people from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech's community? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)

So, the question is, why do universities ask variations of this question? At the risk of repeating the above, universities appreciate a diverse student body for several reasons. 

One reason is the notion that a solid education includes encountering values, faiths, and perspectives that are different from your own (Caltech makes this fairly straightforward in its prompt mentioned above). 

Many academic fields, from marketing to history to medicine, are day by day realizing how diversity empowers creativity and understanding. The diversity essay is also another opportunity to show how you and a college fit together. 

One general is what exactly schools mean by “diversity.” While it can indicate things like religion, faith, ethnicity, or sexuality, those can be solid topics to write about, and diversity is limited. 

Open your mind, and then think—what perspective will you bring to college, particularly one that others cannot? 

How can you show that you add diversity?

If you are an immigrant to the U.S. or born to immigrants or someone whose ethnicity is a minority in the U.S., you may find your answer to this question crucial to your application effort. Why? Because you can use it to prove how your background will add to the mix of viewpoints at the program you are applying to.

Of course, if you’re not an under-represented 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 unique experience to share, like serving in the military, becoming part of a dance troupe, or caring for a disabled relative, use your knowledge to convey how you will bring diverse school’s campus.

You could be the first member of your family to apply to college;  you could have struggle your way through college, worked hard in poverty, or raised your siblings.

Diversity is not limited to one’s religion, culture, language, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. It’s an element of your identity that distinguishes you from others.

Going further, let’s talk about some

Do’s and Don’ts

Some do’s: .

- Think about how this helps the admission committee to understand more about who you are.

- Think about several ways you’re distinct from other people.

In numerous ways, you can approach diversity essays like you do “ community” prompts. 

To save some time and effort, consider writing a combined essay that can be used for prompts that think community and focus on diversity. 

Try to think in terms of identity and perspective (which often align with communities).

Some don’ts

- As I mentioned earlier, don’t assume that “difference” only applies to culture or social class.

There are numerous ways to define “difference.”

 - At all costs, avoid privilege clichés.

A common essay on diversity is like this: The writer watches a person on a street or bus, or train. They see the person, whose skin is of a different color than theirs, wears torn clothes or worn-out shoes. The writer expresses a feeling of disgrace and gratitude for their privileged position. They either help the person somehow and feel good, but also bad, or just neglect the person and feel bad or don’t feel anything. These kinds of stories have several problems: 

  • In such a situation, the interaction is minimum, so compelling insights are improbable to occur. As a result, diversity essays often end up displaying a common theme along the lines of “I realized I have so much to be grateful for.”
  • It’s crucial to come to recognize privilege. But understanding privilege in an essay like this runs the danger of showcasing blunt negative qualities.

One important thing to do is link the values you’ve developed 

Help readers see how these factors of diversity have shaped your values and insights. 

Step by step process to write the “Diversity” Essay 

Let’s look at two simple approaches for how you can write your diversity essay:

  • If you belong to a community that embraces how you’ll contribute to the diversity of the campus, you can create your essay around your engagement with that community. 
  • And, if there’s individuality or perspective that represents the diversity you’ll bring to campus, you can work on that also. 

1. First is the “Community” approach 

Step 1: Prepare a “communities” chart by posting all communities you’re a part of. Remember that communities can be defined by ...

  • Place: Crowds of people who live, work, and have leisure time near one another
  • Action: Crowds of people who bring change in the world by building, doing, or solving something together (Examples: Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives)
  • Interest: Associations coming together based on similar interests, skills, events, experiences, or expertise
  • Circumstance: Gatherings brought together either by chance or external emergencies/situations

Step 2: Once you’ve picked a community, use the following exercise to develop your essay content. 

  • What did you do in that community? (Important Tip: You can use active verbs like “designed” and “directed” to clarify your responsibilities.)
  • What kinds of difficulties/ problems did you solve?
  • What particular impact did you have?
  • What did you learn (your skills, characteristics, values)? 
  • How did you implement the lessons you learned in that community?

Don’t skip that step. It’s significant: it’s easy for students to write just so-so community essays if they don’t take the time to brainstorm specific content.

Step 3: Pick a structure (Narrative or montage).

Narrative Structure works fine for students who have faced a challenge in this community. Otherwise, you can use Montage Structure.

If you choose Narrative, you have to focus on answering the following three-question Structure: 

  • What challenges did you face?
  • How did you overcome those challenges?  
  • What did you learn?

Go with the Montage Structure if you want to approach essays that don’t necessarily focus on a particular challenge.

2. Second is the Identity/Perspective approach 

List out diverse ways in which you identify. Again, think with an open mind. Here an open mind approach is much needed. For example, "I'm a ... writer, rock lover, Indian, dancer, feminist, etc." Try to name as many identities as you think you are. 

Then, in short, describe how these identities reveal different versions of you.

Is there an identity you haven’t spoken about so far in your application that's very important to you, or maybe one you've had a hard time with? If so, what have you found stimulating about it?

Regarding perspective: Talk about some unique experiences that have shaped you. For example, have your values clash with your family’s in complicated ways? Have you been raised differently? What has molded how you see the world and your role in it? (Remember that this can lead to excellent essays, but is a little harder, as “perspective” is a more abstract thing than “identity” or “community.”)

Again, Montage or Narrative Structure can work here.

Option for both approaches: As your prompt and its word count, think about adding some “Why us?” elements to the end of your diversity essay—even if the prompt doesn’t ask you to.

How you’ll contribute to the diversity on campus? Are there groups or communities that allow you to continue what you’ve already done? Or are you planning to start an organization? Express to your reader that you have got an idea about how you want to engage with the school community.

Diversity Essay Example 1

Let’s look at an example that takes the “community” approach:

When I joined the Durham Youth Commission, a group of students chosen to represent youth interests within local government, I met Miles. Miles told me his cousin’s body had been stuffed into the trunk of a car after he was killed by a gang. After that, my notion of normal would never be the same. 

A melting pot of ideologies, skins, socio-economic classes, faiths, and educations, the DYC is a unique collaborative enterprise. Each member adds to our community’s network of stories, that weave, bump, and diverge in unexpected ways. Miles talked about his cousin’s broken body, Witnessa educated us about “food deserts,” supervisor Evelyn Scott explained that girls get ten-day school suspensions for simply stepping on another student’s sneakers, and I shared how my family’s blending of Jewish tradition and Chinese culture bridges disparate worlds. As a person who was born in Tokyo, lived in London and grew up in the South, I realize difference doesn’t have to be an obstacle to understanding. My ability to listen empathetically helped us envision multifaceted solutions to issues facing 21st-century youth. 

My experience in this space of affirmation and engagement has made me a more thoughtful person and listener. I want to continue this effort and be the woman who both expands perspectives and takes action after hearing people’s stories. Reconciling disparate lifestyles and backgrounds in the Commission has prepared me to become a compassionate leader, eager to both expand perspectives and take collaborative action. 

Tips and Analysis

  • Hook us, then keep us: We find that hook jolting every time we read i. But that’s the reason it’s effective. So while your hook doesn’t have to be as shocking and mysterious as this one, always spend some time researching options for ways to hook your reader. While the hook does a great job of hooking us, the body does a great job of keeping us engaged.

We get to see how the writer has explored various perspectives, making space for others to share, and tried to establish understanding by offering her own. The insights she gives are quick but effective, and she transitions perfectly into concentrating on how diversity has shaped her, and how she wants to continue engaging and participating in the future.

  • Show your engagement: The way she described the final paragraph could be set depending on the phrasing of the prompt—some schools clearly ask how you’ll contribute to diversity on campus. For these prompts, remember to add some “why us”-like details, showing that you’ve found associations and opportunities at the school that inspires you. 
  • Save yourself time: Use this essay for various prompts which ask about things like diversity or community, saving her hours of writing. As you brainstorm for your diversity prompts, think about how you can write one essay that can be used for all of them (with needed revisions to fit the prompt’s phrasing and word count).

Diversity Essay Example 2 (with analysis in the essay)

This one focuses more on perspective:

My whole family sits around the living room on a lazy Sunday afternoon when we suddenly hear sirens. Lots of sirens. Everyone stops. My dad peers out the window, trying to get a glimpse of the highway. My mom gets up and goes to the phone. After a few stressful rings, the person on the other line answers. My mom bursts out, “Is Josh ok?”

Great hook! We’re engaged by the questions this essay raises. Is Josh ok? Who is this Josh? Why are there is a lot of sirens?

Josh is my fourteen-year-old cousin, and he lives less than a mile from my house. Whenever we hear sirens, my mom will give their house a call or shoot my aunt a text, just in case. Josh was born with a syndrome that affected the formation of the bones of his head and face. As a result, his hearing, vision, breathing, and some of his brain structures are compromised. He’s unable to do athletics, his tracheostomy always provides a possibility of disaster, and an unwieldy head brace used to grace his head.

Here the writer gives context by describing who Josh is. He also defines “difference” with a few particular details.

Living so close to Josh, we have had the opportunity to interact daily. We go on vacations together, I drive Josh to school twice a week, at every holiday we either go down to their house or they come up to my family’s house, we play wiffle ball in the yard behind their house. One of my favorite activities is board games with him—Risk, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, we play it all. Last Christmas, there were endless laughs when prompted by our fathers’ nostalgia, we constructed a slot car track and raced those miniature cars around tight turns and short straightaways. This game was perfect for Josh, as he could stay in a comfortable seat and still experience the speed and excitement that he is usually barred from.

In this section, the writer shows us how close he is to Josh, and the final sentence shows his sympathy and feeling. 

It goes without saying that Josh has not had an easy childhood. He has had to fight for his life in the hospital when his peers were learning how to multiply and divide in school or playing capture the flag on the beach. A large portion of his childhood has been arbitrarily taken from him. That is most obviously unfair.

Value: Empathy

At our high school, I see Josh every day walking from the second period to the third period, and every day I say hello and have a small conversation with him. One day I was walking with a few of my friends when I stopped to talk with him. During the conversation, I made a little joke at Josh’s expense. It wasn’t at all relating to his disability, but to something completely independent of that—specifically, his Instagram habits. My friends were horrified and chastised me as they saw it appropriate.

He’s setting up for the end and also raised a question: Why did he make the joke at Josh’s expense?

My friends didn’t understand. He is not some extremely delicate dandelion who falls apart at every breath that causes a slightly adverse situation. Everywhere he goes, he’s the most popular guy in the room; people flock to him, surround him, pity him, overwhelm him. All Josh wants is to be treated like any other person. He is my cousin, and he is my friend, so I treat him as such. We joke we make fun of each other, just as any other two friends do.

Insight! The writer treats Josh as he would treat any of his friends—like a normal human being.

Josh has proved to me that people with disabilities are exactly that—people. As if that needed proving. But it’s something that is too easily forgotten. It’s hard to see anything except the handicap. A person’s wheelchair or white cane inevitably trumps any other characteristic. It’s a natural human reaction, but it too often leads to the dehumanizing of disabled people. One of my favorite people on Earth has lived a life of disability. And he plays a mean game of Monopoly.

In the end, he connects the dots and provides a bit more understanding: Treating people differently because of their disability can be degrading.                          

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How to Write a Diversity Essay: The Complete, Step-by-Step Guide

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by  Antony W

February 16, 2023

how to write a diversity essay explained

It’s easy to freak out when requested to write a diversity essay for your college application. 

Think of it like this:

You’ve probably had the most difficult time formatting a personal statement. And maybe writing a statement of purpose wasn’t easy either.

Now you’re facing another a giant paper that will determine whether you get an admission to college or university of your choice or otherwise.

Don’t freak out because a diversity essay doesn’t have to be as difficult to write.

With our step-by-step guide, you’ll write a killer diversity statement that will supplement your personal statement or statement of purpose and will you an admission in a college of your choice.

What is a Diversity Essay?

A diversity essay is an assignment that tests how you view and analyze vastness in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values and viewpoints.  

When it comes to writing the essay, do so in a way that proves that you can both embrace and enrich the multicultural environment of the learning institution you intend to join.

A well-written diversity essay will not only communicate your willingness and ability to encourage a culture of varying viewpoints, but also show the admissions board that you recognize diverse identities. 

Why Colleges Want You to Write a Diversity Essay 

Colleges and universities request students to write diversity essays to determine whether they can fit in learning institutions.

By writing about where you come from and how the society around you view and treat people from your background, the admissions board can get the message that you’re aware of your socioeconomic status.

Further, by showing why you care about equality and inclusion, and stating how you can contribute to diversity during and after school, you make it easy for the admissions board to decide whether you’re fit for a program you’d like to apply to.

Steps to Write a Diversity Essay 

There’s more to writing a diversity essay than just putting words on a page.

From researching your topic and writing your first draft to using a proper structure and proofing your work, there’s a lot of work that goes into this assignment. Here’s how to get it right: 

Step #1: Start with Research 

Even if an admissions panel doesn’t give you a topic to write your essay on, do enough research to understand what your topic of choice is all about.

Even if you already have a firsthand experience with the issue at hand, you still should do research and relate your experiences to external factors.

The last thing you want to do is to is to misrepresent a group of people, so research can help foster clarity.

For example, if you say that gender inequality is the worst act of prejudice in history, provide irrefutable evidence that shows the disadvantage of being gender biased.

Step #2: Create an Outline 

With your research completed, you should have enough information to add to your essay.

It’s tempting to immediately get down to writing at this point, but you shouldn’t until you have written an outline.

A standard outline is a solid framework that lets you organize your thoughts and guide your ideas. It also makes it easy for you to cover the most important issues and to leave out what isn’t worth reading.

A 5-paragraph essay format is perfect for a diversity statement. In a content template, you’ll have an introduction paragraph, a body section with three paragraphs for the factors that you’d like to explain, and the concluding paragraph.

The opening paragraph of your diversity essay should be a strong hook. Use this space to introduce yourself. Write your claim in the thesis, and remember it’s the very statement that answers the question you intend to cover in the body paragraphs of the assignment.

You’ll have to write 3 paragraphs for the body section. Here, concentrate on factors that contribute to diversity. Provide concrete details, be as authentic as possible, and make sure you provide your arguments in a manner that the admissions board can identify with.

The concluding paragraph of the essay shouldn’t be difficult to write. It’s here that you restate the thesis, yet in a way that doesn’t look like you’re spamming the section. Instead of just copying and pasting your thesis in this section, you could, for example, restructure the entire sentence but maintain the same meaning.

Step #3: Stick to the Theme of a Diversity Essay 

A diversity statement is the kind of a college admissions essay that looks beyond your interests as a person, especially on why you’re the best fit for a certain program in a given institution. It focuses on the theme of cultural, economic, ethnic, and social status of varied groups.

This essay requires you to explain whether you’re an insider or outsider, and how you experience being either and how you can show your commitment to diversity.

How Can You Contribute to a Diversity Essay? 

Share a personal story .

Your diversity essay can pique the interest of an admissions board if it includes a perianal story such as enduring racism in your community or your experience as an immigrant in a foreign country.

Don’t hesitate to recognize your privileges, and, in addition, let your essay reflect your willingness to dismantle inequality and encourage diversity.

Doing so is a sensible way to promote inclusion – even if you’re someone raised with no adversity at all.

Talk about Your Professional Goals 

Because the purpose of a diversity essay is to describe how you can bring about equality by promoting inclusion, consider contributing your professional goals in the assignment.

Show how you’ll use your professional goals to ensure diversity and promote equality in your community. 

Say you want to be a teacher. Your diversity essay can discuss the difficult of access to quality education.

Then work your way to describing how your profession as a teacher will help to break social, economic, and cultural barriers that hinders access to quality education. 

Related Reading 

  • How to Write an MBA Essay
  • How to Write a Synthesis Essay Step-by-Step
  • Can You Put a Thesis Statement at the End of an Essay?

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.


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3 Diversity Essay Examples For Business School


Historically, MBA programs did not always exemplify the diversity that they strive for today, as programs were often composed of overrepresented populations.  For example, Harvard Business School did not admit women into its MBA program until as recently as 1961. Thankfully, business schools have made significant steps in the last few decades to incorporate women, international students, and students of other backgrounds into their programs. 

Business schools now understand and value the diverse backgrounds of MBA students, who bring a wealth of skills, knowledge, and experiences. Diverse student pools in MBA programs prepare future business leaders for success as they expand their global and cultural understanding by working with students from a wide range of backgrounds. 

Most business schools are eager to diversify their MBA programs and admit MBA students of “differing races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, socioeconomic statuses and geographical origins.” Business schools also strive to recruit students from an array of industries and a variety of undergraduate institutions.

Business professionals in MBA programs collaborate with students from numerous backgrounds, simulating students' real-world business experiences after graduation. Kelly R. Wilson, executive director of masters admissions at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, said that “Each person’s unique experience and background – their lifestyle – brings them to a place where they have a way that they think about things.” When classrooms are composed of diverse students, the classroom experience becomes more valuable as students can learn and challenge their perspectives, facilitating better critical thinking skills.

To foster an ideal and diverse learning environment, many business schools will offer students the chance to write a diversity essay as part of their MBA application. We will explain the purpose of a diversity essay, tips for writing one, and include some diversity essay examples. 

What is a Diversity Essay?

A diversity essay is often an optional essay that business schools may offer as part of their application process. Students can choose to write these essays if they self-identify as a minority based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or belonging to any other marginalized group. These essays can also focus on a student’s values and unique experiences. 

These essays differ from typical business school essays; they tend to illustrate an applicant’s personal identity rather than focusing solely on their personal or professional achievements or why they want to go to a particular school. Applicants who choose to write a diversity essay will often tell an anecdotal story about their upbringing, community, or family and how their experiences shaped them.

The essays may also explain how the applicant's diverse background will meaningfully contribute to the specific business school of their choice. 

Purpose of the Diversity Essay 

The diversity essay offers a space to include your minority identity on a business school application if it’s something you want the admissions committee to know. Not only will the admissions committee get to learn more about you, but you can also use this opportunity to give context into your background and potentially explain how you have overcome past adversities. 

Business schools value the diversity of their students, and illuminating your background can show the admissions committee how you would add a unique voice and perspective to the MBA program. Many schools celebrate inclusivity and actively share class profile demographics on their websites. Among the top ten business schools , recent data shows that almost all schools had racial or ethnic minority students who make up at least 25% of the student body. 

Under-Represented Minorities At The Top 10 Business Schools

under represented minorities at top business schools

If crafting a diversity essay is something you want to do, your essay can also highlight how your minority identity strengthens your MBA candidacy.

‍ Shaun Carver , assistant dean of graduate programs with the Rady School of Management at UCSD, said that “It's important to put their [an applicant’s] diversity in context of what makes them unique and makes them a better candidate and not just mention it as... checking a box.” Remember that the purpose of the diversity essay is to showcase your background with context to the admissions committee, so they can learn more about you and how you will contribute to the program. 

If you are comfortable writing and talking about your gender identity or your self-identification as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, you may benefit from this in the admissions process. Jay Bryant, director of graduate recruitment and admissions with the Rady School of Management at the University of California—San Diego, said that “If you're applying to a school where that [LGBT status] would be an issue, you don't want to go there anyways.” Choosing to write a diversity essay about any part of your identity can help you later in the interview process as you explore the school’s culture and you get a better idea if you fit into it. 

Top Tips for Crafting a Diversity Essay 

Like any application essay, you want your diversity essay to be well-written, have a logical flow, and be free of any spelling or grammar errors. However, you can take some specific actions to make sure your diversity essay is the best that it can be. Here are some of our top tips to write a compelling diversity essay. 

Understand and Define Your Views on Diversity and Inclusion 

To help you get started on your essay, you should consider what diversity and inclusion mean to you. You can start jotting down ideas and themes that come to mind and ask yourself some questions to get the ball rolling. Some things you may want to ask yourself include: 

  • What are the types of diversity that I exhibit in my identity? Keep in mind that it’s possible to write about more than one facet of your identity. For example, perhaps you are a racial or ethnic minority that identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. 
  • As a student, how do you think you can contribute to the diversity of the school you wish to attend? 
  • What elements of your background influence your perspectives, experiences, and how you problem-solve in real-world settings? 
  • What are your values regarding diversity, and how do you integrate these values in a professional setting? 

You will likely not have the luxury of a high word limit, so if you don’t hit all of these points in your essay, that’s okay. Asking yourself these questions is a way to get yourself thinking about what diversity means to you and to give yourself ideas for your writing. 

Tell Your Story 

Now that you’ve considered your beliefs surrounding diversity and inclusion, you can look toward identifying concrete examples in your personal experiences. You can write about how your background influenced and shaped you, any obstacles you’ve faced and how you overcame them, or initiatives or actions you’ve taken to promote diversity in your community.

Think carefully about any anecdotes that stick out in your mind as especially formative to your personal or professional development. Remember to be yourself and to write honestly about your story. The admissions committee will get to know your story, and you may even discuss it later in your interview. 

Explain Why Your Background Will Positively Contribute to the School’s Culture 

Although you are writing about yourself and your own experiences and initiatives, you will want to round back and explain how your minority identity improves your MBA candidacy. Write about how your unique background will enrich the program through your one-of-a-kind perspective and voice. Remember that the purpose of your entire application is to show the admissions committee why you are an excellent fit for your desired program.

Maybe you’re passionate about a school’s club or course that directly relates to the anecdotes you wrote about in your diversity essay. If you can relate your story to your desire to attend a particular program, it undoubtedly makes your essay stronger. 

Consider How Your Background Impacted Your Skills and Perspectives 

The diversity essay is a great place to illuminate your individuality. Think about your life in the context of how your experiences may differ from the “norm.” Did you grow up in a foreign country? If so, how did cultural and regional differences impact your perspectives on the world? Did you not grow up in the traditional nuclear family archetype? Do you possess unique skills thanks to your upbringing?

Keep in mind that these skills don’t necessarily have to be professional in nature. Perhaps you excel in a sport or game that’s relatively unknown to other people in the U.S., or you are a great dancer to choreography specific to your culture. Your hobbies, skills, and experiences put into the context of the general American population can be very different and interesting to the admissions committee. After all, your interests and skills are central to your personality and self-expression.

Think About the Future 

At the conclusion of your essay, you may want to write about your hopes for your future. Here you can write about what you want your life to look like after you graduate and the accomplishments you hope to achieve. You can intertwine these future aspirations with your diversity statement to give the admissions committee a comprehensive look at how you will continue to uphold your values and ambitions after graduation or how you want to continue to be involved with your school as an alumnus. 

Three Diversity Essay Examples for Business School

We have compiled three diversity essay examples to help you craft your own stellar essay. Keep in mind that these are examples and that the prompt for a diversity essay may differ depending on the business school. These diversity essay examples exemplify the criteria of the top tips above and can provide you with the framework you need to get started on your own essay.

Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you, and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

Sample introduction:.

“Thank you for calling [Call Center]; this is [Name] – may I have your name and email, please?” To my estimation, I’ve said this opening line 4,860 times. Unfathomable to my peers and family, I turned down a lucrative job in Silicon Valley to start my career in a call center. My decision was based upon my ambition of bettering the global community, driven by my guiding values of empathy and accountability. 

Sample Body Paragraphs:

I was born in [Country] to [Nationality] parents and moved to [City] at the age of five. My adolescence and teenage years were far from ordinary as our family moved every four years, and my sister was born in [year]. Despite my initial chagrin of being employed at the age of 12 as a traveling unpaid babysitter, these small yet significant responsibilities gave me my first glimpse into understanding what it meant to care for others. Empathy had led me to contextualize my life in a world of others, with the conclusion that humans should strive to help those around them.

I graduated with a concentration in corporate social responsibility (CSR). I felt the for-profit sector held the most untapped influence to fundamentally address global societal shortcomings. However, I couldn’t reconcile corporations’ competing pressure to maximize profits and engage in effective CSR initiatives until I discovered the entrepreneurial initiatives underway at [Call Center].

This rating agency was innovating the way investments are evaluated by assessing them based on sustainability metrics – environmental, social, and governance (ESG). In combining sustainability data and traditional financial metrics, investors can capture their non-pecuniary preferences in their investment behavior, which realigns corporate incentives to consider the stewardship of its actions. 

Sample Conclusion:

As I look to the future, I want to pivot from investment ratings and focus on broader sustainability evaluations for products and services. Much like how [Call Center] is innovating the way investments are assessed, I want to help shape how sustainability considerations can be integrated into the consumer decision-making process. I envision the parent company’s sustainability rating displayed directly on product packaging to allow consumers to incorporate their sustainable preferences into their purchasing decisions. I want to create a world in which a brand’s sustainability stewardship is as important as price and brand recognition. 

Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Hip hop choreography has been a significant part of my college and work career and is something that I am looking to continue at Wharton. I fell for choreography in college because it was not just one style but a mix of contemporary, jazz, freestyle hip hop, and many other sub-genres. To be successful in choreography, I had to be comfortable learning and combining different styles.

Sample Body Paragraph:

As a choreographer, I initially sought to never be the type of leader that was domineering and controlling. I wanted my team to be empowered to make independent decisions and never feel restricted. However, I learned that this was not the best approach for everyone. Some did love my leadership style and enjoyed the independence. Others disliked this and felt that I did not provide enough direction.

I was taken aback. I had thought I was empowering my team but instead had sowed confusion. I thought I knew best, but had not actually taken the time to understand their perspectives to truly support my team. From this, I gained a valuable learning experience. I learned the value of challenging my preconceptions and the importance of listening to others’ perspectives.

With a passion to engage and understand others, I will be a student at Wharton who will connect my classmates together, facilitating networking and group collaboration such as knowledge sharing events and interview practice. Additionally, I will share my values of challenging preconceptions to help my classmates approach problems from new points of views. Simply put, I will be a student who will bring my classmates together and solve problems together in new ways. ‍

I was hired on the spot during my final round of interviews at [Company] because, in addition to my communication skills, I knew how to code. Two years into my career, it turns out the interviewers were right: My high-level technical skills allow me to translate complicated processes into digestible language for our clients. By effectively articulating my growing passion for social media, I have made it my mission to spread the word about the power and pitfalls of technology. At Wharton, I will do the same: I will be committed to encouraging my classmates to consider how they can use social media to benefit their businesses and positively influence the world. 

As I reflect on my past academic experiences, I am thankful for learning from my classmates’ diverse perspectives. At Wharton, I will add value to classroom discussions by contributing my technical perspective in its simplest and most relevant form. As a team player, I will effectively persuade my peers to seriously consider the power of social media.

While I firmly believe that social media and social influence go hand in hand, much of their complex relationship has yet to be studied. Popular culture often focuses on the negative impact of technology, I prefer to appreciate how it improves people’s lives. Social media is giving a platform to historically silenced groups of people: The pioneers of the #MeToo movement, who have expertly utilized social media to get out their message, inspired me to speak up about my own experience. At Wharton, I will fearlessly advocate for both myself and others to maintain an inclusive community where everyone feels comfortable and respected. 

Finally, I look forward to strengthening the Wharton community even after I graduate. As part of the [Name] community, I serve as an alumni fund agent to encourage giving to the alumni fund, which finances 10% of the college’s operating budget. I look forward to proudly continuing these efforts as a Wharton alumna, because I know a close-knit alumni network is what separates a good school from a great school.

1. Do I have to write a diversity essay if I identify as part of a minority group? 

The diversity essay is optional, so no you do not have to write one if you choose. However, writing this essay can help the admissions committee learn more about you and your values and illustrate your background. Business schools value diversity, so you may give yourself a better chance of acceptance by writing a stellar diversity essay.

2. How long should my diversity essay be? 

The answer to this will depend on the school, but many business schools will provide you with a word limit for your essay. You should expect to write around 300-500 words. 

3. How do I know I’m on the right track with my essay? 

There’s no fundamental right or wrong way to write a diversity essay as long as you are answering the given prompt. Sometimes it can be difficult to ascertain that your essay accurately represents you or if it's well-written. If you feel apprehensive about your diversity essay, there are services available that will help you with your writing to make sure that it’s reviewed, polished, and ready for submission. 

4. What elements of my diversity can I write about in my essay? 

In your diversity essay, you can write about many facets of your identity, including your race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, or other minority group. Note that you can also write about your experiences with intersectionality of two groups or more if that applies to you. 

5. Will the content of my diversity essay be discussed in my interview? 

If the business school admissions committee does not conduct blind interviews with anything on hand but your resume, anything on your application can be fair game for your interviewer to ask you. It may or may not come up, but you may want to be prepared with an example other than the one discussed in your essay to talk about with your interviewer. 

6. How do I know that my essay is ready for submission? 

Like all business school application essays, you want to make sure your essay is easy to follow, flows well, and is free of spelling or grammatical errors. If you feel that your essay accurately represents you and your experiences, answers the business school’s prompt, and is a clean edited copy, it may be ready for submission with the rest of your application! 


Business schools today value the diversity of their MBA students and their unique skills and perspectives. Students have the opportunity to learn and grow together while gaining new perspectives from students from different backgrounds. Writing a diversity essay as part of your application can be a great way to illustrate your distinct upbringing, identity, or culture to the admissions committee.

You know that the purpose of the diversity essay is to share your experiences with the admissions committee and provide context to how these experiences shaped you. Doing so can strengthen your MBA candidacy, especially if the rest of your application is polished. 

When you’re writing your diversity essay, remember to ask yourself questions about your views on diversity and inclusion, and use your beliefs and values to guide your writing. If you possess any unique skills or hobbies, the diversity essay may be a great place to write about them too.

Remember to tell your story authentically and explain how your acceptance will enrich the program. Your essay should reflect your past or your present, but be sure to think ahead to what you want your future to look like as well. Use the diversity essay examples above to guide your own writing, but remember that what experiences you choose to write about are ultimately up to you. You are the expert in your own life, and the admissions committee will undoubtedly be pleased to hear your story. 

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what is a diversity essay

6 Diversity College Essay Examples

What’s covered:, how to write the diversity essay after the end of affirmative action, essay #1: jewish identity, essay #2: being bangladeshi-american, essay #3: marvel vs dc, essay #4: leadership as a first-gen american, essay #5: protecting the earth, essay #6: music and accents, where to get your diversity essays edited, what is the diversity essay.

While working on your college applications, you may come across essays that focus on diversity , culture, or values. The purpose of these essays is to highlight any diverse views or opinions that you may bring to campus. Colleges want a diverse student body that’s made up of different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and interests. These essay prompts are a way for them to see what students can bring to their school.

In this post, we will share six essays written by real students that cover the topic of culture and diversity. We’ll also include what each essay did well and where there is room for improvement. Hopefully, this will be a useful resource to inspire your own diversity essay.

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. That said, you should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and they will not have a favorable view of students who have plagiarized.

In June 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of race in college admissions was unconstitutional. In other words, they struck down the use of affirmative action in college admissions . This will affect college-bound students of color in a number of ways, including lowering their chances of acceptance and reducing the amount of direct outreach they’ll receive from colleges. Another change to consider is the ways in which students should tackle their diversity essays.

Although colleges can no longer directly factor race into admissions, students aren’t prohibited from discussing their racial backgrounds in supplemental application essays. If your racial background is important to you, seriously consider writing about it in your diversity essays. If you don’t, admissions officers are extremely limited in their ability to consider your race when making an admission decision.

As in the essays listed below, discussing your race is an excellent tool for showing admissions officers the person behind the grades and test scores. Beyond that, it provides admissions officers with an opportunity to put themselves in your shoes—showing them how your background has presented challenges to overcome, helped build important life skills, and taught you valuable lessons.

Diversity Essay Examples

I was thirsty. In my wallet was a lone $10 bill, ultimately useless at my school’s vending machine. Tasked with scrounging together the $1 cost of a water bottle, I fished out and arranged the spare change that normally hid in the bottom of my backpack in neat piles of nickels and dimes on my desk. I swept them into a spare Ziploc and began to leave when a classmate snatched the bag and held it above my head.

“Want your money back, Jew?” she chanted, waving the coins around. I had forgotten the Star-of-David around my neck, but quickly realized she must have seen it and connected it to the stacks of coins. I am no stranger to experiencing and confronting antisemitism, but I had never been targeted in my school before. I grabbed my bag and sternly told her to leave. Although she sauntered away, the impact remained.

This incident serves as an example of the adversity I have and will continue to face from those who only see me as a stereotype. Ironically, however, these experiences of discrimination have only increased my pride as a member of the Jewish Community. Continuing to wear the Star-of-David connects me to my history and my family. I find meaning and direction in my community’s values, such as pride, education, and giving—and I am eager to transfer these values to my new community: the Duke community.

What the Essay Did Well

Writing about discrimination can be difficult, but if you are comfortable doing it, it can make for a powerful story. Although this essay is short and focused on one small interaction, it represents a much larger struggle for this student, and for that reason it makes the essay very impactful.

The author takes her time at the beginning of the essay to build the scene for the audience, which allows us to feel like we are there with her, making the hateful comments even more jarring later on. If she had just told us her classmate teased her with harmful stereotypes, we wouldn’t feel the same sense of anger as we do knowing that she was just trying to get a drink and ended up being harassed.

This essay does another important thing—it includes self-reflection on the experience and on the student’s identity. Without elaborating on the emotional impact of a situation, an essay about discrimination would make admission officers feel bad for the student, but they wouldn’t be compelled to admit the student. By describing how experiences like these drive her and make her more determined to embody positive values, this student reveals her character to the readers.

What Could Be Improved

While including emotional reflection in the latter half of the essay is important, the actual sentences could be tightened up a bit to leave a stronger impression. The student does a nice job of showing us her experience with antisemitism, but she just tells us about the impact it has on her. If she instead showed us what the impact looked like, the essay would be even better.

For example, rather than telling us “Continuing to wear the Star-of-David connects me to my history and my family,” she could have shown that connection: “My Star-of-David necklace thumps against my heart with every step I take, reminding me of my great-grandparents who had to hide their stars, my grandma’s spindly fingers lighting the menorah each Hanukkah, and my uncle’s homemade challah bread.” This new sentence reveals so much more than the existing sentence about the student and the deep connection she feels with her family and religion.

Life before was good: verdant forests, sumptuous curries, and a devoted family.

Then, my family abandoned our comfortable life in Bangladesh for a chance at the American dream in Los Angeles. Within our first year, my father was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He lost his battle three weeks before my sixth birthday. Facing a new country without the steady presence of my father, we were vulnerable—prisoners of hardship in the land of the free.

We resettled in the Bronx, in my uncle’s renovated basement. It was meant to be our refuge, but I felt more displaced than ever. Gone were the high-rise condos of West L.A.; instead, government projects towered over the neighborhood. Pedestrians no longer smiled and greeted me; the atmosphere was hostile, even toxic. Schoolkids were quick to pick on those they saw as weak or foreign, hurling harsh words I’d never heard before.

Meanwhile, my family began integrating into the local Bangladeshi community. I struggled to understand those who shared my heritage. Bangladeshi mothers stayed home while fathers drove cabs and sold fruit by the roadside—painful societal positions. Riding on crosstown buses or walking home from school, I began to internalize these disparities.

During my fleeting encounters with affluent Upper East Siders, I saw kids my age with nannies, parents who wore suits to work, and luxurious apartments with spectacular views. Most took cabs to their destinations: cabs that Bangladeshis drove. I watched the mundane moments of their lives with longing, aching to plant myself in their shoes. Shame prickled down my spine. I distanced myself from my heritage, rejecting the traditional panjabis worn on Eid and refusing the torkari we ate for dinner every day.

As I grappled with my relationship with the Bangladeshi community, I turned my attention to helping my Bronx community by pursuing an internship with Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda. I handled desk work and took calls, spending the bulk of my time actively listening to the hardships constituents faced—everything from a veteran stripped of his benefits to a grandmother unable to support her bedridden grandchild.

I’d never exposed myself to stories like these, and now I was the first to hear them. As an intern, I could only assist in what felt like the small ways—pointing out local job offerings, printing information on free ESL classes, reaching out to non-profits. But to a community facing an onslaught of intense struggles, I realized that something as small as these actions could have vast impacts.

Seeing the immediate consequences of my actions inspired me. Throughout that summer, I internalized my community’s daily challenges in a new light. I began to see the prevalent underemployment and cramped living quarters less as sources of shame. Instead, I saw them as realities that had to be acknowledged, but that could ultimately be remedied.

I also realized the benefits of the Bangladeshi culture I had been so ashamed of. My Bangla language skills were an asset to the office, and my understanding of Bangladeshi etiquette allowed for smooth communication between office staff and the office’s constituents. As I helped my neighbors navigate city services, I saw my heritage with pride—a perspective I never expected to have.

I can now appreciate the value of my unique culture and background, and the value of living with less. This perspective offers room for progress, community integration, and a future worth fighting for. My time with Assemblyman Sepulveda’s office taught me that I can be an agent of change who can enable this progression. Far from being ashamed of my community, I want to someday return to local politics in the Bronx to continue helping others access the American Dream. I hope to help my community appreciate the opportunity to make progress together. By embracing reality, I learned to live it. Along the way, I discovered one thing: life is good, but we can make it better.

This student’s passion for social justice and civic duty shines through in this essay because of how honest it is. Sharing their personal experience with immigrating, moving around, being an outsider, and finding a community allows us to see the hardships this student has faced and builds empathy towards their situation.

However, what really makes it strong is that the student goes beyond describing the difficulties they faced and explains the mental impact it had on them as a child: “Shame prickled down my spine. I distanced myself from my heritage, rejecting the traditional panjabis worn on Eid and refusing the torkari we ate for dinner every day.” The rejection of their culture presented at the beginning of the essay creates a nice juxtaposition with the student’s view in the latter half of the essay, and helps demonstrate how they have matured.

They then use their experience interning as a way to delve into a change in their thought process about their culture. This experience also serves as a way to show how their passion for social justice began. Using this experience as a mechanism to explore their thoughts and feelings is an excellent example of how items that are included elsewhere on your application should be incorporated into your essay.

This essay prioritizes emotions and personal views over specific anecdotes. Although there are details and certain moments incorporated throughout to emphasize the author’s points, the main focus remains on the student and how they grapple with their culture and identity.

One area for improvement is the conclusion. Although the forward-looking approach is a nice way to end an essay focused on social justice, it would be nice to include more details and imagery in the conclusion. How does the student want to help their community? What government position do they see themselves holding one day?

A more impactful ending might describe the student walking into their office at the New York City Housing Authority in 15 years. This future student might be looking at the plans to build a new development in the Bronx just blocks away from where they grew up that would provide quality housing to people in their Bangladeshi community. They would smile while thinking about how far they have come from that young kid who used to be ashamed of their culture.

Superhero cinema is an oligopoly consisting of two prominent, towering brands: Marvel and DC. I’m a religious supporter of Marvel, but last year, I discovered that my friend, Tom, was a DC fan. After a vociferous 20-minute quarrel about which was better, we decided to allocate one day to have a professional debate, using carefully assembled and coherent arguments.

One week later, we both brought pages of notes and evidence cards (I also had my Iron-Man bobblehead for moral support). Our impartial moderator—a Disney fan—sat in the middle with a stopwatch, open-policy style. I began the debate by discussing how Marvel accentuated the humanity of the storyline—such as in Tony Stark’s transformation from an egotistical billionaire to a compassionate father—which drew in a broader audience, because more people resonated with certain aspects of the characters. Tom rebutted this by capitalizing on how Deadpool was a duplicate of Deathstroke, how Vision copied Red Tornado, and how DC sold more comics than Marvel.

40 minutes later, we reached an impasse. We were out of cards, and we both made excellent points, so our moderator was unable to declare a winner. Difficult conversations aren’t necessarily always the ones that make political headlines. Instead, a difficult discussion involves any topic with which people share an emotional connection.

Over the years, I became so emotionally invested in Marvel that my mind erected an impenetrable shield, blocking out all other possibilities. Even today, we haven’t decided which franchise was better, but I realized that I was undermining DC for no reason other than my own ignorance.

The inevitability of diversity suggests that it is our responsibility to understand the other person and what they believe in. We may not always experience a change in opinion, but we can grant ourselves the opportunity to expand our global perspective. I strive to continue this adventure to increase my awareness as a superhero aficionado, activist, and student, by engaging in conversations that require me to think beyond what I believe and to view the world from others’ perspectives.

And yes, Tom is still my friend.

Diversity doesn’t always have to be about culture or heritage; diversity exists all around us, even in our comic book preferences. The cleverness of this essay lies in the way the student flipped the traditional diversity prompt on its head and instead discussed his diverse perspective on a topic he is passionate about. If you don’t have a cultural connection you are compelled to write about, this is a nifty approach to a diversity prompt—if it’s handled appropriately.

While this student has a non-traditional topic, he still presents it in a way that pays respect to the key aspects of a diversity essay: depicting his perspective and recognizing the importance of diverse views. Just as someone who is writing about a culture that is possibly unfamiliar to the reader, the student describes what makes Marvel and DC unique and important to him and his friend, respectively. He also expands on how a lack of diversity in superhero consumption led to his feeling of ignorance, and how it now makes him appreciate the need for diversity in all aspects of his life.

This student is unapologetically himself in this essay, which is ultimately why this unorthodox topic is able to work. He committed to his passion for Marvel by sharing analytical takes on characters and demonstrating how the franchise was so important to his identity that it momentarily threatened a friendship. The inclusion of humor through his personal voice—e.g., referring to the argument as a professional debate and telling us that the friendship lived on—contributes to the essay feeling deeply personal.

Choosing an unconventional topic for a diversity essay requires extra care and attention to ensure that you are still addressing the core of the prompt. That being said, if you accomplish it successfully, it makes for an incredibly memorable essay that could easily set you apart!

While this is a great essay as is, the idea of diversity could have been addressed a little bit earlier in the piece to make it absolutely clear the student is writing about his diverse perspective. He positions Marvel and DC as two behemoths in the superhero movie industry, but in the event that his reader is unfamiliar with these two brands, there is little context about the cultural impact each has on its fans.

To this student, Marvel is more than just a movie franchise; it’s a crucial part of his identity, just as someone’s race or religion might be. In order for the reader to fully understand the weight of his perspective, there should be further elaboration—towards the beginning—on how important Marvel is to this student.

Leadership was thrust upon me at a young age. When I was six years old, my abusive father abandoned my family, leaving me to step up as the “man” of the house. From having to watch over my little sister to cooking dinner three nights a week, I never lived an ideal suburban life. I didn’t enjoy the luxuries of joining after-school activities, getting driven to school or friends’ houses, or taking weekend trips to the movies or bowling alley. Instead, I spent my childhood navigating legal hurdles, shouldering family responsibilities, and begrudgingly attending court-mandated therapy sessions.

At the same time, I tried to get decent grades and maintain my Colombian roots and Spanish fluency enough to at least partially communicate with my grandparents, both of whom speak little English. Although my childhood had its bright and joyful moments, much of it was weighty and would have been exhausting for any child to bear. In short, I grew up fast. However, the responsibilities I took on at home prepared me to be a leader and to work diligently, setting me up to use these skills later in life.

I didn’t have much time to explore my interests until high school, where I developed my knack for government and for serving others. Being cast in a lead role in my school’s fall production as a freshman was the first thing to give me the confidence I needed to pursue other activities: namely, student government. Shortly after being cast, I was elected Freshman Vice-President, a role that put me in charge of promoting events, delegating daily office tasks, collaborating with the administration on new school initiatives, and planning trips and fundraisers.

While my new position demanded a significant amount of responsibility, my childhood of helping my mom manage our household prepared me to be successful in the role. When I saw the happy faces of my classmates after a big event, I felt proud to know that I had made even a small difference to them. Seeing projects through to a successful outcome was thrilling. I enjoyed my time and responsibilities so much that I served all four years of high school, going on to become Executive Vice-President.

As I found success in high school, my mother and grandparents began speaking more about the life they faced prior to emigrating from Colombia. To better connect with them, I took a series of Spanish language classes to regain my fluency. After a practice run through my presentation on Bendíceme, Ultima ( Bless me, Ultima ) by Rudolofo Anaya, with my grandmother, she squeezed my hand and told me the story of how my family was forced from their home in order to live free of religious persecution. Though my grandparents have often expressed how much better their lives and their children’s lives have been in America, I have often struggled with my identity. I felt that much of it was erased with my loss of our native language.

In elementary school, I learned English best because in class I was surrounded by it. Spanish was more difficult to grasp without a formal education, and my family urged me to become fluent in English so I could be of better help to them in places as disparate as government agencies and grocery stores. When I was old enough to recognize the large part of my identity still rooted in being Colombian, it was challenging to connect these two sides of who I was.

Over time I have been able to reconcile the two in the context of my aspirations. I found purpose and fulfillment through student council, and I knew that I could help other families like my own if I worked in local government. By working through city offices that address housing, education, and support for survivors of childhood abuse, I could give others the same liberties and opportunities my family has enjoyed in this country. Doing so would also help me honor my roots as a first-generation American.

I have been a leader my entire life. Both at Harvard and after graduation, I want to continue that trend. I hope to volunteer with organizations that share my goals. I want to advise policy-making politicians on ways to make children and new immigrants safer and more secure. When my family was at their worst, my community gave back. I hope to give that gift to future generations. A career in local, city-based public service is not a rashly made decision; it is a reflection of where I’ve already been in life, and where I want to be in the future.

Although this essay begins on a somber note, it goes on to show this student’s determination and the joy he found. Importantly, it also ends with a positive, forward-looking perspective. This is a great example of how including your hardship can bolster an essay as long as it is not the essay’s main focus.

Explaining the challenges this student faced from a young age—becoming the man of the house, dealing with legal matters, maintaining good grades, etc.—builds sympathy for his situation. However, the first paragraph is even more impactful because he explains the emotional toll these actions had on him. We understand how he lost the innocence of his childhood and how he struggled to remain connected to his Colombian heritage with all his other responsibilities. Including these details truly allows the reader to see this student’s struggle, making us all the more joyful when he comes out stronger in the end.

Pivoting to discuss positive experiences with student government and Spanish classes for the rest of the essay demonstrates that this student has a positive approach to life and is willing to push through challenges. The tone of the essay shifts from heavy to uplifting. He explains the joy he got out of helping his classmates and connecting with his grandparents, once again providing emotional reflection to make the reader care more.

Overall, this essay does a nice job of demonstrating how this student approaches challenges and negative experiences. Admitting that the responsibilities of his childhood had a silver lining shows his maturity and how he will be able to succeed in government one day. The essay strikes a healthy balance between challenge and hope, leaving us with a positive view of a student with such emotional maturity.

Although the content of this essay is very strong, it struggles with redundancy and disorganized information. He mentions his passion for government at the beginning of the student government paragraph, then again addresses government in the paragraph focused on his Colombian heritage, and concludes by talking about how he wants to get into government once more. Similarly, in the first paragraph, he discusses the struggle of maintaining his Colombian identity and then fully delves into that topic in the third paragraph.

The repetition of ideas and lack of a streamlined organization of this student’s thoughts diminishes some of the emotional impact of the story. The reader is left trying to piece together a swirling mass of information on their own, rather than having a focused, sequential order to follow.

This could be fixed if the student rearranged details to make each paragraph focused on a singular idea. For example, the first paragraph could be about his childhood. The second could be about how student government sparked his interest in government and what he hopes to do one day. The third could be about how he reconnected with his Colombian roots through his Spanish classes, after years of struggling with his identity. And the final paragraph could tie everything together by explaining how everything led to him wanting to pursue a future serving others, particularly immigrants like his family.

Alternatively, the essay could follow a sequential order that would start with his childhood, then explain his struggle with his identity, then show how student government and Spanish classes helped him find himself, and finally, conclude with what he hopes to accomplish by pursuing government.

I never understood the power of community until I left home to join seven strangers in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Although we flew in from distant corners of the U.S., we shared a common purpose: immersing ourselves in our passion for protecting the natural world.

Back home in my predominantly conservative suburb, my neighbors had brushed off environmental concerns. My classmates debated the feasibility of Trump’s wall, not the deteriorating state of our planet. Contrastingly, these seven strangers delighted in bird-watching, brightened at the mention of medicinal tree sap, and understood why I once ran across a four-lane highway to retrieve discarded beer cans.

Their histories barely resembled mine, yet our values aligned intimately. We did not hesitate to joke about bullet ants, gush about the versatility of tree bark, or discuss the destructive consequences of materialism. Together, we let our inner tree-huggers run free.

In the short life of our little community, we did what we thought was impossible. By feeding on each other’s infectious tenacity, we cultivated an atmosphere that deepened our commitment to our values and empowered us to speak out on behalf of the environment. After a week of stimulating conversations and introspective revelations about engaging people from our hometowns in environmental advocacy, we developed a shared determination to devote our lives to this cause.

As we shared a goodbye hug, my new friend whispered, “The world needs saving. Someone’s gotta do it.” For the first time, I believed that that someone could be me.

This student is expressing their diversity through their involvement in a particular community—another nice approach if you don’t want to write about culture or ethnicity. We all have unique things that we geek out over. This student expresses the joy that they derived from finding a community where they could express their love for the environment. Passion is fundamental to university life and generally finds its way into any successful application.

The essay finds strength in the fact that readers feel for the student. We get a little bit of backstory about where they come from and how they felt silenced— “Back home in my predominantly conservative suburb, my neighbors had brushed off environmental concerns” —so it’s easy to feel joy for them when they get set free and finally find their community.

This student displays clear values: community, ecoconsciousness, dedication, and compassion. An admissions officer who reads a diversity essay is looking for students with strong values who will enrich the university community with their unique perspective—that sounds just like this student!

One area of weakness in this essay is the introduction. The opening line— “I never understood the power of community until I left home to join seven strangers in the Ecuadorian rainforest” —is a bit clichéd. Introductions should be captivating and build excitement and suspense for what is to come. Simply telling the reader about how your experience made you understand the power of community reveals the main takeaway of your essay without the reader needing to go any further.

Instead of starting this essay with a summary of what the essay is about, the student should have made their hook part of the story. Whether that looks like them being exasperated with comments their classmates made about politics, or them looking around apprehensively at the seven strangers in their program as they all boarded their flight, the student should start off in the action.

India holds a permanent place in my heart and ears. Whenever I returned on a trip or vacation, I would show my grandmother how to play Monopoly and she would let me tie her sari. I would teach my grandfather English idioms—which he would repeat to random people and fishmongers on the streets—and he would teach me Telugu phrases.

It was a curious exchange of worlds that I am reminded of every time I listen to Indian music. It was these tunes that helped me reconnect with my heritage and ground my meandering identity. Indian music, unlike the stereotype I’d long been imbued with, was not just a one-and-done Bollywood dance number! Each region and language was like an island with its own unique sonic identity. I’m grateful for my discovery of Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, and Tamil tunes, for these discoveries have opened me up to the incredible smorgasbord of diversity, depth, and complexity within the subcontinent I was born in.

Here’s an entirely-different sonic identity for you: Texan slang. “Couldya pass the Mango seltzer, please, hon?” asked my Houstonian neighbor, Rae Ann—her syllables melding together like the sticky cake batter we were making.

Rae Ann and her twang were real curiosities to me. Once, she invited my family to a traditional Texan barbecue with the rest of our neighbors. As Hindus, we didn’t eat beef, so we showed up with chicken kebabs, instead. Rather than looking at us bizarrely, she gladly accepted the dish, lining it up beside grilled loins and hamburger patties.

Her gesture was a small but very well-accepted one and I quickly became convinced she was the human manifestation of “Southern hospitality”—something reflected in each of her viscous, honey-dripping phrases. “Watch out for the skeeters!” was an excellent example. It was always funny at first, but conveyed a simple message: We’ve got each other’s backs and together, we can overcome the blood-sucking mosquitoes of the Houstonian summer! I began to see how her words built bridges, not boundaries.

I believe that sounds—whether it’s music or accents—can make a difference in the ways we perceive and accept individuals from other backgrounds. But sound is about listening too. In Rice’s residential college, I would be the type of person to strike up a conversation with an international student and ask for one of their Airpods (you’d be surprised how many different genres and languages of music I’ve picked up in this way!).

As both an international student and Houstonian at heart, I hope to bridge the gap between Rice’s domestic and international populations. Whether it’s organizing cultural events or simply taking the time to get to know a student whose first language isn’t English, I look forward to listening to the stories that only a fellow wanderer can tell.

This essay does an excellent job of addressing two aspects of this student’s identity. Looking at diversity through sound is a very creative way to descriptively depict their Indian and Texan cultures. Essays are always more successful when they stimulate the senses, so framing the entire response around sound automatically opens the door for vivid imagery.

The quotes from this student’s quirky neighbor bring a sense of realism to the essay. We can feel ourselves at the barbecue and hear her thick Texan accent coming through. The way people communicate is a huge part of their culture and identity, so the way that this student perfectly captures the essence of their Texan identity with accented phrases is skillfully done.

This essay does such a great job of making the sounds of Texas jump off the page, so it is a bit disappointing that it wasn’t able to accomplish the same for India. The student describes the different Indian languages and music styles, but doesn’t bring them to life with quotes or onomatopoeia in the manner that they did for the sounds of Texas.

They could have described the buzz of the sitar or the lyrical pattern of the Telugu phrases their grandfather taught them. Telling us about the diversity of sounds in Indian music is fine, but if the reader can’t appreciate what those sounds resemble, it makes it harder to understand the Indian half of the author’s identity. Especially since this student emulated the sounds and essence of Texas so well, it’s important that India is given the same treatment so we can fully appreciate both sides of this essay.

More Supplemental Essay Tips

How to Write a Stellar “Why This College?” Essay + Examples

How to Write a Stellar Extracurricular Activity College Essay

Do you want feedback on your diversity essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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Cultural Diversity Essay & Community Essay Examples

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If you’ve started to research college application requirements for the schools on your list, you might have come across the “cultural diversity essay.” In this guide, we’ll explore the cultural diversity essay in depth. We will compare the cultural diversity essay to the community essay and discuss how to approach these kinds of supplements. We’ll also provide examples of diversity essays and community essay examples. But first, let’s discuss exactly what a cultural diversity essay is. 

The purpose of the cultural diversity essay in college applications is to show the admissions committee what makes you unique. The cultural diversity essay also lets you describe what type of “ diversity ” you would bring to campus.

We’ll also highlight a diversity essay sample for three college applications. These include the Georgetown application essay , Rice application essay , and Williams application essay . We’ll provide examples of diversity essays for each college. Then, for each of these college essays that worked, we will analyze their strengths to help you craft your own essays. 

Finally, we’ll give you some tips on how to write a cultural diversity essay that will make your applications shine. 

But first, let’s explore the types of college essays you might encounter on your college applications. 

Types of College Essays

cultural diversity essay

College application requirements will differ among schools. However, you’ll submit one piece of writing to nearly every school on your list—the personal statement . A strong personal statement can help you stand out in the admissions process. 

So, how do you know what to write about? That depends on the type of college essay included in your college application requirements. 

There are a few main types of college essays that you might encounter in the college admissions process. Theese include the “Why School ” essay, the “Why Major ” essay, and the extracurricular activity essay. This also includes the type of essay we will focus on in this guide—the cultural diversity essay. 

“Why School” essay

The “Why School ” essay is exactly what it sounds like. For this type of college essay, you’ll need to underscore why you want to go to this particular school. 

However, don’t make the mistake of just listing off what you like about the school. Additionally, don’t just reiterate information you can find on their admissions website. Instead, you’ll want to make connections between what the school offers and how you are a great fit for that college community. 

“Why Major” essay

The idea behind the “Why Major ” essay is similar to that of the “Why School ” essay above. However, instead of writing about the school at large, this essay should highlight why you plan to study your chosen major.

There are plenty of directions you could take with this type of essay. For instance, you might describe how you chose this major, what career you plan to pursue upon graduation, or other details.

Extracurricular Activity essay

The extracurricular activity essay asks you to elaborate on one of the activities that you participated in outside of the classroom. 

For this type of college essay, you’ll need to select an extracurricular activity that you pursued while you were in high school. Bonus points if you can tie your extracurricular activity into your future major, career goals, or other extracurricular activities for college. Overall, your extracurricular activity essay should go beyond your activities list. In doing so, it should highlight why your chosen activity matters to you.

Cultural Diversity essay

The cultural diversity essay is your chance to expound upon diversity in all its forms. Before you write your cultural diversity essay, you should ask yourself some key questions. These questions can include: How will you bring diversity to your future college campus? What unique perspective do you bring to the table? 

Another sub-category of the cultural diversity essay is the gender diversity essay. As its name suggests, this essay would center around the author’s gender. This essay would highlight how gender shapes the way the writer understands the world around them. 

Later, we’ll look at examples of diversity essays and other college essays that worked. But before we do, let’s figure out how to identify a cultural diversity essay in the first place. 

How to identify a ‘cultural diversity’ essay

cultural diversity essay

So, you’re wondering how you’ll be able to identify a cultural diversity essay as you review your college application requirements. 

Aside from the major giveaway of having the word “diversity” in the prompt, a cultural diversity essay will ask you to describe what makes you different from other applicants. In other words, what aspects of your unique culture(s) have influenced your perspective and shaped you into who you are today?

Diversity can refer to race, ethnicity, first-generation status, gender, or anything in between. You can write about a myriad of things in a cultural diversity essay. For instance, you might discuss your personal background, identity, values, experiences, or how you’ve overcome challenges in your life. 

However, don’t feel limited in what you can address in a cultural diversity essay. The words “culture” and “diversity” mean different things to different people. Above all, you’ll want your diversity essays for college to be personal and sincere. 

How is a ‘community’ essay different? 

cultural diversity essay

A community essay can also be considered a cultural diversity essay. In fact, you can think of the community essay as a subcategory of the cultural diversity essay. However, there is a key difference between a community essay and a cultural diversity essay, which we will illustrate below. 

You might have already seen some community essay examples while you were researching college application requirements. But how exactly is a community essay different from a cultural diversity essay?

One way to tell the difference between community essay examples and cultural diversity essay examples is by the prompt. A community essay will highlight, well, community . This means it will focus on how your identity will shape your interactions on campus—not just how it informs your own experiences.

Two common forms to look out for

Community essay examples can take two forms. First, you’ll find community essay examples about your past experiences. These let you show the admissions team how you have positively influenced your own community. 

Other community essay examples, however, will focus on the future. These community essay examples will ask you to detail how you will contribute to your future college community. We refer to these as college community essay examples.

In college community essay examples, you’ll see applicants detail how they might interact with their fellow students. These essays may also discuss how students plan to positively contribute to the campus community. 

As we mentioned above, the community essay, along with community essay examples and college community essay examples, fit into the larger category of the cultural diversity essay. Although we do not have specific community essay examples or college community essay examples in this guide, we will continue to highlight the subtle differences between the two. 

Before we continue the discussion of community essay examples and college community essay examples, let’s start with some examples of cultural diversity essay prompts. For each of the cultural diversity essay prompts, we’ll name the institutions that include these diversity essays for college as part of their college application requirements. 

What are some examples of ‘cultural diversity’ essays? 

Now, you have a better understanding of the similarities and differences between the cultural diversity essay and the community essay. So, next, let’s look at some examples of cultural diversity essay prompts.

The prompts below are from the Georgetown application, Rice application, and Williams application, respectively. As we discuss the similarities and differences between prompts, remember the framework we provided above for what constitutes a cultural diversity essay and a community essay. 

Later in this guide, we’ll provide real examples of diversity essays, including Georgetown essay examples, Rice University essay examples, and Williams supplemental essays examples. These are all considered college essays that worked—meaning that the author was accepted into that particular institution. 

Georgetown Supplementals Essays

cultural diversity essay

Later, we’ll look at Georgetown supplemental essay examples. Diversity essays for Georgetown are a product of this prompt: 

As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you. 

You might have noticed two keywords in this prompt right away: “diverse” and “community.” These buzzwords indicate that this prompt is a cultural diversity essay. You could even argue that responses to this prompt would result in college community essay examples. After all, the prompt refers to the Georgetown community. 

For this prompt, you’ll want to produce a diversity essay sample that highlights who you are. In order to do that successfully, you’ll need to self-reflect before putting pen to paper. What aspects of your background, personality, or values best describe who you are? How might your presence at Georgetown influence or contribute to their diverse community? 

Additionally, this cultural diversity essay can be personal or creative. So, you have more flexibility with the Georgetown supplemental essays than with other similar diversity essay prompts. Depending on the direction you go, your response to this prompt could be considered a cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or a college community essay. 

Rice University Essays

cultural diversity essay

The current Rice acceptance rate is just 9% , making it a highly selective school. Because the Rice acceptance rate is so low, your personal statement and supplemental essays can make a huge difference. 

The Rice University essay examples we’ll provide below are based on this prompt: 

The quality of Rice’s academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspective would you contribute to life at Rice? 

Breaking down the prompt.

Like the prompt above, this cultural diversity essay asks about your “life experiences,” “cultural traditions,” and personal “perspectives.” These phrases indicate a cultural diversity essay. Keep in mind this may not be the exact prompt you’ll have to answer in your own Rice application. However, future Rice prompts will likely follow a similar framework as this diversity essay sample.

Although this prompt is not as flexible as the Georgetown prompt, it does let you discuss aspects of Rice’s academic life and Residential College System that appeal to you. You can also highlight how your experiences have influenced your personal perspective. 

The prompt also asks about how you would contribute to life at Rice. So, your response could also fall in line with college community essay examples. Remember, college community essay examples are another sub-category of community essay examples. Successful college community essay examples will illustrate the ways in which students would contribute to their future campus community. 

Williams Supplemental Essays

cultural diversity essay

Like the Rice acceptance rate, the Williams acceptance rate is also 9% . Because the Williams acceptance rate is so low, you’ll want to pay close attention to the Williams supplemental essays examples as you begin the writing process. 

The Williams supplemental essays examples below are based on this prompt: 

Every first-year student at Williams lives in an Entry – a thoughtfully constructed microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience. From the moment they arrive, students find themselves in what’s likely the most diverse collection of backgrounds, perspectives, and interests they’ve ever encountered. What might differentiate you from the 19 other first-year students in an Entry? What perspective would you add to the conversation with your peer(s)?

Reflecting on the prompt.

Immediately, words like “diverse,” “backgrounds,” “perspectives,” “interests,” and “differentiate” should stand out to you. These keywords highlight the fact that this is a cultural diversity essay. Similar to the Rice essay, this may not be the exact prompt you’ll face on your Williams application. However, we can still learn from it.

Like the Georgetown essay, this prompt requires you to put in some self-reflection before you start writing. What aspects of your background differentiate you from other people? How would these differences impact your interactions with peers? 

This prompt also touches on the “student community” and how you would “add to the conversation with your peer(s).” By extension, any strong responses to this prompt could also be considered as college community essay examples. 

Community Essays

All of the prompts above mention campus community. So, you could argue that they are also examples of community essays. 

Like we mentioned above, you can think of community essays as a subcategory of the cultural diversity essay. If the prompt alludes to the campus community, or if your response is centered on how you would interact within that community, your essay likely falls into the world of college community essay examples. 

Regardless of what you would classify the essay as, all successful essays will be thoughtful, personal, and rich with details. We’ll show you examples of this in our “college essays that worked” section below. 

Which schools require a cultural diversity or community essay? 

Besides Georgetown, Rice, and Williams, many other college applications require a cultural diversity essay or community essay. In fact, from the Ivy League to HBCUs and state schools, the cultural diversity essay is a staple across college applications. 

Although we will not provide a diversity essay sample for each of the colleges below, it is helpful to read the prompts. This will build your familiarity with other college applications that require a cultural diversity essay or community essay. Some schools that require a cultural diversity essay or community essay include New York University , Duke University , Harvard University , Johns Hopkins University , and University of Michigan . 

New York University

cultural diversity essay

NYU listed a cultural diversity essay as part of its 2022-2023 college application requirements. Here is the prompt:

NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience. We would like to better understand how your experiences would help us to shape and grow our diverse community.

Duke university.

cultural diversity essay

Duke is well-known for its community essay: 

What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you? If there’s something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well.

cultural diversity essay

A top-ranked Ivy League institution, Harvard University also has a cultural diversity essay as part of its college application requirements: 

Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development, or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.

Johns hopkins university.

cultural diversity essay

The Johns Hopkins supplement is another example of a cultural diversity essay: 

Founded in the spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests, and pursue new experiences. Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity, or your community), and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins. 

University of michigan.

cultural diversity essay

The University of Michigan requires a community essay for its application: 

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong and describe that community and your place within it. 

Community essay examples.

The Duke and Michigan prompts are perfect illustrations of community essay examples. However, they have some critical differences. So, if you apply to both of these schools, you’ll have to change the way you approach either of these community essays. 

The Duke prompt asks you to highlight why you are a good match for the Duke community. You’ll also see this prompt in other community essay examples. To write a successful response to this prompt, you’ll need to reference offerings specific to Duke (or whichever college requires this essay). In order to know what to reference, you’ll need to do your research before you start writing. 

Consider the following questions as you write your diversity essay sample if the prompt is similar to Duke University’s

  • What values does this college community have? 
  • How do these tie in with what you value? 
  • Is there something that this college offers that matches your interests, personality, or background?  

On the other hand, the Michigan essay prompt asks you to describe a community that you belong to as well as your place within that community. This is another variation of the prompt for community essay examples. 

To write a successful response to this prompt, you’ll need to identify a community that you belong to. Then, you’ll need to think critically about how you interact with that community. 

Below are some questions to consider as you write your diversity essay sample for colleges like Michigan: 

  • Out of all the communities you belong to, which can you highlight in your response? 
  • How have you impacted this community? 
  • How has this community impacted you?

Now, in the next few sections, we’ll dive into the Georgetown supplemental essay examples, the Rice university essay examples, and the Williams supplemental essays examples. After each diversity essay sample, we’ll include a breakdown of why these are considered college essays that worked. 

Georgetown Essay Examples

cultural diversity essay

As a reminder, the Georgetown essay examples respond to this prompt: 

As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.

Here is the excerpt of the diversity essay sample from our Georgetown essay examples: 

Georgetown University Essay Example

The best thing I ever did was skip eight days of school in a row. Despite the protests of teachers over missed class time, I told them that the world is my classroom. The lessons I remember most are those that took place during my annual family vacation to coastal Maine. That rural world is the most authentic and incredible classroom where learning simply happens and becomes exponential. 

Years ago, as I hunted through the rocks and seaweed for seaglass and mussels, I befriended a Maine local hauling her battered kayak on the shore. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I had found a kindred spirit in Jeanne. Jeanne is a year-round resident who is more than the hard working, rugged Mainer that meets the eye; reserved and humble in nature, she is a wealth of knowledge and is self-taught through necessity. With thoughtful attention to detail, I engineered a primitive ramp made of driftwood and a pulley system to haul her kayak up the cliff. We diligently figured out complex problems and developed solutions through trial and error.

After running out of conventional materials, I recycled and reimagined items that had washed ashore. We expected to succeed, but were not afraid to fail. Working with Jeanne has been the best classroom in the world; without textbooks or technology, she has made a difference in my life. Whether building a basic irrigation system for her organic garden or installing solar panels to harness the sun’s energy, every project has shown me the value of taking action and making an impact. Each year brings a different project with new excitement and unique challenges. My resourcefulness, problem solving ability, and innovative thinking have advanced under her tutelage. 

While exploring the rocky coast of Maine, I embrace every experience as an unparalleled educational opportunity that transcends any classroom environment. I discovered that firsthand experience and real-world application of science are my best teachers. In school, applications of complex calculations and abstract theories are sometimes obscured by grades and structure. In Maine, I expand my love of science and renourish my curious spirit. I am a highly independent, frugal, resilient Mainer living as a southern girl in NC. 

Why this essay worked

This is one of the Georgetown supplemental essay examples that works, and here’s why. The author starts the essay with an interesting hook, which makes the reader want to learn more about this person and their perspective. 

Throughout the essay, the author illustrates their intellectual curiosity. From befriending Jeanne and creating a pulley system to engineering other projects on the rocky coast of Maine, the author demonstrates how they welcome challenges and work to solve problems. 

Further, the author mentions values that matter to them—taking action and making an impact. Both facets are also part of Georgetown’s core values . By making these connections in their essay, the author shows the admissions committee exactly how they would be a great fit for the Georgetown community. 

Finally, the author uses their experience in Maine to showcase their love of science, which is likely the field they will study at Georgetown. Like this writer, you should try to include most important parts of your identity into your essay. This includes things like life experiences, passions, majors, extracurricular activities for college, and more. 

Rice University Essay Examples

cultural diversity essay

The Rice University essay examples are from this prompt: 

The quality of Rice’s academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspective would you contribute to life at Rice? (500-word limit)

Rice university essay example.

Like every applicant, I also have a story to share. A story that makes me who I am and consists of chapters about my life experiences and adventures. Having been born in a different country, my journey to America was one of the most difficult things I had ever experienced. Everything felt different. The atmosphere, the places, the food, and especially the people. Everywhere I looked, I saw something new. Although it was a bit overwhelming, one thing had not changed.

The caring nature of the people was still prevalent in everyday interactions. I was overwhelmed by how supportive and understanding people were of one another. Whether it is race, religion, or culture, everyone was accepted and appreciated. I knew that I could be whoever I wanted to be and that the only limitation was my imagination. Through hard work and persistence I put my all in everything that I did. I get this work ethic from my father since he is living proof that anything can be accomplished with continued determination. Listening to the childhood stories he told me, my dad would reminisce about how he was born in an impoverished area in a third world country during a turbulent and unpredictable time.

Even with a passion for learning, he had to work a laborious job in an attempt to help his parents make ends meet. He talked about how he would study under the street lights when the power went out at home. His parents wanted something better for him, as did he. Not living in America changed nothing about their work ethic. His parents continued to work hard daily, in an attempt to provide for their son. My dad worked and studied countless hours, paying his way through school with jobs and scholarships. His efforts paid off when he finally moved to America and opened his own business. None of it would have been possible without tremendous effort and dedication needed for a better life, values that are instilled within me as well, and this is the perspective that I wish to bring to Rice. 

This diversity essay sample references the author’s unique life experiences and personal perspective, which makes it one example of college essays that worked. The author begins the essay by alluding to their unique story—they were born in a different country and then came to America. Instead of facing this change as a challenge, the author shows how this new experience helped them to feel comfortable with all kinds of people. They also highlight how their diversity was accepted and appreciated. 

Additionally, the author incorporates information about their father’s story, which helps to frame their own values and where those values came from. The values that they chose to highlight also fall in line with the values of the Rice community. 

Williams Supplemental Essay Examples

cultural diversity essay

Let’s read the prompt that inspired so many strong Williams supplemental essays examples again: 

Every first-year student at Williams lives in an Entry—a thoughtfully constructed microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience. From the moment they arrive, students find themselves in what’s likely the most diverse collection of backgrounds, perspectives and interests they’ve ever encountered. What might differentiate you from the 19 other first-year students in an entry? What perspective(s) would you add to the conversation with your peers?

Williams college essay example.

Through the flow in my head

See you clad in red

But not just the clothes

It’s your whole being

Covering in this sickening blanket

Of heat and pain

Are you in agony, I wonder?

Is this the hell they told me about?

Have we been condemned?

Reduced to nothing but pain

At least we have each other

In our envelopes of crimson

I try in vain

“Take my hands” I shriek

“Let’s protect each other, 

You and me, through this hell”

My body contorts

And deforms into nothingness

You remain the same

Clad in red

With faraway eyes

You, like a statue

Your eyes fixed somewhere else

You never see me

Just the red briefcase in your heart

We aren’t together

It’s always been me alone

While you stand there, aloof, with the briefcase in your heart.

I wrote this poem the day my prayer request for the Uighur Muslims got denied at school. At the time, I was stunned. I was taught to have empathy for those around me. Yet, that empathy disappears when told to extend it to someone different. I can’t comprehend this contradiction and I refuse to. 

At Williams, I hope to become a Community Engagement Fellow at the Davis Center. I hope to use Williams’ support for social justice and advocacy to educate my fellow classmates on social issues around the world. Williams students are not just scholars but also leaders and changemakers. Together, we can strive to better the world through advocacy.

Human’s capability for love is endless. We just need to open our hearts to everyone. 

It’s time to let the briefcase go and look at those around us with our real human eyes.

We see you now. Please forgive us.

As we mentioned above, the Williams acceptance rate is incredibly low. This makes the supplemental essay that much more important. 

This diversity essay sample works because it is personal and memorable. The author chooses to start the essay off with a poem. Which, if done right, will immediately grab the reader’s attention. 

Further, the author contextualizes the poem by explaining the circumstances surrounding it—they wrote it in response to a prayer request that was denied at school. In doing so, they also highlight their own values of empathy and embracing diversity. 

Finally, the author ends their cultural diversity essay by describing what excites them about Williams. They also discuss how they see themselves interacting within the Williams community. This is a key piece of the essay, as it helps the reader understand how the author would be a good fit for Williams. 

The examples provided within this essay also touch on issues that are important to the author, which provides a glimpse into the type of student the author would be on campus. Additionally, this response shows what potential extracurricular activities for college the author might be interested in pursuing while at Williams. 

How to Write a Cultural Diversity Essay

You want your diversity essay to stand out from any other diversity essay sample. But how do you write a successful cultural diversity essay? 

First, consider what pieces of your identity you want to highlight in your essay. Of course, race and ethnicity are important facets of diversity. However, there are plenty of other factors to consider. 

As you brainstorm, think outside the box to figure out what aspects of your identity help make up who you are. Because identity and diversity fall on a spectrum, there is no right or wrong answer here. 

Fit your ideas to the specific school

Once you’ve decided on what you want to represent in your cultural diversity essay, think about how that fits into the college of your choice. Use your cultural diversity essay to make connections to the school. If your college has specific values or programs that align with your identity, then include them in your cultural diversity essay! 

Above all, you should write about something that is important to you. Your cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or community essay will succeed if you are passionate about your topic and willing to get personal. 

Additional Tips for Community & Cultural Diversity Essays

cultural diversity essay

1. Start Early

In order to create the strongest diversity essay possible, you’ll want to start early. Filling out college applications is already a time-consuming process. So, you can cut back on additional stress and anxiety by writing your cultural diversity essay as early as possible. 

2. Brainstorm

Writing a cultural diversity essay or community essay is a personal process. To set yourself up for success, take time to brainstorm and reflect on your topic. Overall, you want your cultural diversity essay to be a good indication of who you are and what makes you a unique applicant. 

3. Proofread

We can’t stress this final tip enough. Be sure to proofread your cultural diversity essay before you hit the submit button. Additionally, you can read your essay aloud to hear how it flows. You can also can ask someone you trust, like your college advisor or a teacher, to help proofread your essay as well.

Other CollegeAdvisor Essay Resources to Explore

Looking for additional resources on supplemental essays for the colleges we mentioned above? Do you need help with incorporating extracurricular activities for college into your essays or crafting a strong diversity essay sample? We’ve got you covered. 

Our how to get into Georgetown guide covers additional tips on how to approach the supplemental diversity essay. If you’re wondering how to write about community in your essay, check out our campus community article for an insider’s perspective on Williams College.

Want to learn strategies for writing compelling cultural diversity essays? Check out this Q&A webinar, featuring a former Georgetown admissions officer. And, if you’re still unsure of what to highlight in your community essay, try getting inspiration from a virtual college tour . 

Cultural Diversity Essay & Community Essay Examples – Final Thoughts

Your supplemental essays are an important piece of the college application puzzle. With colleges becoming more competitive than ever, you’ll want to do everything you can to create a strong candidate profile. This includes writing well-crafted responses for a cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or community essay. 

We hope our cultural diversity essay guide helped you learn more about this common type of supplemental essay. As you are writing your own cultural diversity essay or community essay, use the essay examples from Georgetown, Rice, and Williams above as your guide. 

Getting into top schools takes a lot more than a strong resume. Writing specific, thoughtful, and personal responses for a cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or community essay will put you one step closer to maximizing your chances of admission. Good luck!

CollegeAdvisor.com is here to help you with every aspect of the college admissions process. From taking a gap year to completing enrollment , we’re here to help. Register today to receive one-on-one support from an admissions expert as you begin your college application journey.

what is a diversity essay

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what is a diversity essay

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Center for Teaching

Developing and writing a diversity statement.

what is a diversity essay

What is a diversity statement, and what purpose does it serve?

What topics might be included in a diversity statement.

  • Getting Started

Writing Prompts

Adapting your statement for a job application, additional resources.

Increasingly, institutions of higher education are becoming more intentional and programmatic about their efforts to embrace principles of inclusion, equity, justice, and diversity throughout campus life. As they do so, they are more focused on finding faculty who have experiences and competencies that can contribute to these efforts. Consequently, universities and colleges frequently are requesting that job applicants address how they can contribute to a culture of inclusion and equity within the campus community in the form of a “diversity statement.”

what is a diversity essay

Sometimes, a job ad will request that applicants address diversity in the cover letter or the teaching statement, but a request for a separate diversity statement is becoming more common. From the perspective of some universities, the purpose of such documents is to demonstrate that the applicant has commitments and capacities to contribute to the institution’s projects of inclusion and equity via their work, including scholarship, teaching, service, mentoring, and advising. Asking faculty applicants to speak to inclusive excellence in their application materials or during the interview process shows a university’s commitment to inclusion and ensures that new faculty share that commitment (2018). The document is also an opportunity for applicants to highlight their understanding of the barriers faced by under-represented or marginalized groups, as well as their own experiences meeting the needs of a diverse population of students, staff, and peers. For example, The University of California at San Diego requests a separate “Contributions to Diversity” statement from all faculty applicants, and its published guidelines suggest describing “your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.” (2.1.18, https://facultydiversity.ucsd.edu/_files/c2d-guidelines.pdf ).

The wording that universities and colleges use in framing the request for a diversity statement varies widely. Below are a few examples from job ads posted in the 2017-2018 academic year.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (public liberal arts college, faculty posting in Psychology):

Applicants should submit a statement explaining how their teaching at the College will contribute to a culture of inclusion and campus diversity .

Denison University (private liberal arts university in Ohio, faculty posting in Anthropology):

A description of how the applicant would contribute to the development of a diverse and inclusive learning community at Denison through her/his teaching, research, and/or service .

Angelo State (public university in Texas, faculty posting in Engineering):

The required Other Document should be no longer than 2 pages and should discuss how the candidate would help achieve Angelo State University’s goal to attract and graduate more women, Hispanic, and students from other underrepresented groups .

Georgia College and State University (public liberal arts college, faculty posting in Psychology)

Qualified candidates should submit a research statement, and a diversity statement (describing how you incorporate diversity into your teaching, research, and/or service). Teaching, research, and diversity statements should be limited to two single-spaced pages.

Franklin & Marshall College (private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, Visiting Assistant Professor Position in Psychology)

Pursuant to the college’s vision for cultivating a diverse and inclusive community, the search committee will ask all applicants to address how their past and/or potential contributions might serve to advance F&M’s commitment to teaching and mentoring young people from a variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews th at arise from differences of culture and circumstance.

Since the diversity statement is an emerging genre in the context of faculty job applications, there are few set guidelines on what must be included. Keeping in mind that the purpose of the statement is to demonstrate a commitment to fostering diversity, the following elements may be appropriate:

  • Statement of values as they relate to your understanding and commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and/or justice in higher education.
  • Examples of experiences that demonstrate your commitment to fostering the success of underrepresented students, staff, and peers, and supporting a diversity of perspectives in the classroom, lab, campus, or community.
  • Future plans for continuing to advance inclusive excellence, diversity, or equity in your research, teaching, and service.

Getting started

what is a diversity essay

  • What are your values regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity in your professional life? Why do you think diversity is valuable in higher education settings? How about in your discipline specifically?
  • What kinds of student, staff, or faculty diversity are you thinking of as you answer this question, and are there other ways in which diversity manifests in campus communities that might be valuable to consider?
  • What elements of your own identity inform your teaching, research, or scholarship in a tangible way?

It is worth noting that diversity statements are fundamentally about your values, commitments, and capabilities, and not necessarily your identity and the ways it shapes your work. If you choose to disclose your identity in a diversity statement, you should be aware of some issues.

Should You Self-Disclose Elements of Your Personal Identity?

Note that some people wish to share elements of their personal background in their actual statement, and many do not. Reflecting on your own frame of reference can be useful regardless. Some degree of transparency may help readers contextualize the experiences and approaches you detail in your statement. For example, you may wish to share that you grew up in a bilingual household or that you attended graduate school as an international student, if either has influenced your approach to mentorship or teaching. A 2014 study investigated the content of 191 cover letters for faculty positions in which applicants were specifically asked to address diversity and inclusion; less than a quarter of applicants self-disclosed some aspect of their personal identity (Schmaling, Trevino, Lind, Blume, & Baker, 2014). Despite the low percentage of applicants who chose to self-disclose and despite the authors’ note that they could not determine which applications advanced as a function of the applicants’ choice to self-disclose, they write that “self-disclosing one’s diversity may reconceptualize membership in a previously stigmatized group as an advantage, particularly if the self-identification reinforces a coherent academic and professional identity (Schmaling et al., 2014, p. 10)..”

However, be advised that there is risk in disclosing details that may carry stigma or induce subtle biases on the part of readers. For example, some research confirms that biases toward African Americans and women influence evaluation of written application materials (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000; Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 2012), specifically when the application is not exceptionally weak or exceptionally strong (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000). The potential benefit of self-disclosing one’s mental health history or sexual orientation, for example, should be carefully weighed against the risk. To be sure, an excellent statement can be written without sharing elements of personal identity, and some universities that request statements are beginning to highlight this. The University of San Diego’s published guidelines to writing a diversity statement, for example, emphasize their desire to identify candidates who share the institution’s commitment to inclusive excellence, “regardless of personal demographic characteristics.”

The following prompts are meant to help you identify areas of strength to highlight in your diversity statement. For each of the following areas, think about your past experience and what you plan to do in the future. You don’t need to answer every question, as all may not apply.

Research and Scholarship

  • Does your research/scholarship directly address issues of diversity, inclusion, or equity? If so, how?
  • Does your research/scholarship address issues specific to marginalized groups? If so, describe the connection.
  • Has your research/scholarship been shared with the community or public in a way that promotes access to scholarship?
  • Has your scholarship involved collaboration with diverse groups of colleagues or commentators?

Mentorship and Advising

  • Have you worked with any students in a mentorship or advisory capacity who are from marginalized groups? If so, how did you help them identify and overcome barriers to success? Think about your experience with research mentorship, teaching or tutoring, academic advising, and community mentorship.
  • If you plan to train undergraduates and/or graduate students in your future role, what efforts will you make to recruit and retain students from marginalized and underrepresented groups?
  • How do you plan to serve a student body that is diverse in a multitude of ways? Think not just race, ethnicity, and SES, but about age, religion, academic preparedness, disability, gender expression, or other differences.
  • How does your approach to course design take into account considerations of diversity? You may wish to reflect on using a range of assessments, preventing bias in grading, diversifying course content, using inclusive language in the syllabus and classroom, or utilizing student feedback to improve classroom culture or tone. Try to generate at least one specific example of how your decision affects student’s learning in your course. (Note: One prominent example of inclusive syllabus language is diversity statements within syllabi; see examples from Brown University , Yale Center for Teaching and Learning , and The Eberly Center at Carnegie Mellon University )
  • What do you do as a teacher that creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere? How do you ensure that students in your class feel a sense of belonging?
  • How does your approach to facilitating discussion (and/or structuring active learning activities) take into account considerations of positionality, power, and/or diversity? You may wish to reflect on using semi-structured discussion techniques, online access points for student participation, classroom seating arrangements, or other ways in which you create opportunities for student engagement. Try to generate at least one specific example of how your pedagogical choice facilitates student engagement in a particular course.
  • Does your discipline lend itself to dialogue about diversity? If so, how do you incorporate this dialogue into your courses? Describe the impact of doing so on student learning and engagement.
  • How do you ensure that your course readings and sources reflect diverse perspectives? Have you had any experience diversifying/decolonizing content for your courses, and if so, what has been the impact on student learning?
  • Have you participated in any service activities (e.g. university committees, symposiums, workshops, volunteer work in the community) whose goals relate to diversity, inclusion, and equity? If so, describe your experience. What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What skills did you build in the process?
  • If you have engaged in diversity-related service, how will you incorporate your experience into the job for which you are applying? (Note: here is where – having done your research on the school to which you are applying – you might consider referencing an existing diversity-related initiative to which you could contribute or which you could expand)

After you have developed a statement that reflects your strengths and experiences related to diversity, inclusion, and equity, you may wish to tailor it for individual job applications. Be sure to do your homework about diversity-related programs and resources at the schools to which you are applying, and consider including how you plan to contribute to or expand existing programs at that institution. For example, if you have been particularly active in social justice initiatives and are applying to a school with no existing programs addressing race, power and privilege in higher education, it may be appropriate to propose a program modelled on something you’ve already done. However, you do not need to propose a new diversity-related program to write an effective diversity statement. Perhaps you envision your contribution as serving on faculty committees related to diversifying curriculum in your department or advising LGBT-student groups or research initiatives. Be honest about where you are and how you can contribute.

  • Golash-Boza, T. (2016). “ The Effective Diversity Statement .” Inside Higher Ed.
  • University of California: Contributions to Diversity
  • Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2000). Aversive racism and selection decisions: 1989 and 1999.   Psychological Science, 11 (4), 315-319. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00262
  • Schmaling, K. B., Trevino, A. Y., Lind, J. R., Blume, A. W., & Baker, D. L. (2015). Diversity statements: How faculty applicants address diversity.   Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 8 (4), 213-224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038549
  • Moss-Racusin, C., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students.   PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 (41), 16474-16479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1211286109

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Diversity Essay – Step-By-Step Guide & Examples

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When applying to join a college, you may have to write a supplemental college essay detailing your personal life, including cultural background, identity, interests, and talents. Such an essay is known as a diversity essay. They provide an opportunity for the applicants to showcase their unique backgrounds. This article provides various guidelines on diversity essays and their importance. We will also share a few tips on how to write diversity essays.


  • 1 In a nutshell: Diversity essay 
  • 2 Definition: Diversity essay
  • 3 Why do schools want a diversity essay?
  • 4 Dos and don’ts of a diversity essay
  • 5 Diversity essay: How to enrich the campus community
  • 6 How to write a diversity essay: Sharing experience
  • 7 How to write a diversity essay: Impact on your life

In a nutshell: Diversity essay  

  • A diversity essay enables the college admissions committee to gain an in-depth understanding of your unique background, experiences, and motivations.
  • When writing the essay, use specific examples to highlight your viewpoint.
  • The essay should concentrate on how your diverse experiences have influenced your life and academic decisions. It should demonstrate how you can benefit the campus community.
  • A diversity essay should be authentic and truthful.
  • Proofreading and reviewing your essay for errors should be done before submitting it. They can also help you evaluate it for clarity and coherence.

Definition: Diversity essay

Diversity essays are usually short and reflective essays with a length limit of 500 words or fewer. They are often necessary for financial aid, grant, and scholarship applications. They may also be a requirement when applying for college and university admissions.

It is a personal statement or essay focusing on diversity, particularly in an academic context. It also aims to draw attention to your distinctive background, experiences, and perspectives, which set you apart from other applicants. Furthermore, the essay demonstrates and provides evidence of your potential to add value to a diverse community. Many colleges and universities use diversity essay prompts to inform admission decisions and eliminate biases. Here are three examples of such essay prompts:

  • Reflect on a time when you advocated for equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Applicants should submit a statement explaining how their admission to the college will contribute to a culture of inclusion and campus diversity.
  • Give an example of a time when you felt disconnected from a community or group. What did you learn from the experience, and how did you handle it?


Why do schools want a diversity essay?

Admissions officers may require diversity essays to ensure a diverse student body.

  • To understand how your unique experiences and background can contribute to the diversity of the campus community and enrich learning experiences.
  • To evaluate your capacity for reflective writing about your experiences and viewpoints.
  • To test your ability to communicate concisely and effectively.

Dos and don’ts of a diversity essay

Here are some tips on what to do and what to avoid when writing a diversity essay.

  • Be authentic and truthful. Write about your genuine background, experiences, and viewpoints.
  • Keep the focus on you and your strengths. Use concrete examples to support your points.
  • Make a connection in your essay between your values and the objectives of your target institution, highlighting how your application will benefit all parties.
  • It is important to emphasize your individual experiences to stand out. Focus on showcasing your qualities.
  • Use clear and concise language.
  • Avoid focusing too much on your challenges and struggles.
  • Avoid writing generic essays that feature clichés and stereotypes.
  • Avoid using complex jargon and fancy terminologies to impress the reader.

Diversity essay: How to enrich the campus community

Because of your unique background, experiences, and perspectives, you can impact the campus community in various ways. Here are some examples of identities or experiences you can write about in a diversity essay.

  • Belief systems and religion
  • Family circumstances
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Living with a disability
  • Nationality and race
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Sporting activities and talents

How to write a diversity essay: Sharing experience

Authentic stories are crucial as they allow others to understand your ambitions, experiences, and viewpoints.

Focus lies on yourself

It is essential to keep the focus on you when writing about your background, identity, and experiences. Doing so lets the reader comprehend your perspective and deduce why you stand out. Here is an exemplary text excerpt that demonstrates this step.

Sharing own experience

In a diversity essay, it is critical to emphasize how experiences have affected your perspective and promoted your personal development. The following is an exemplary text excerpt.

“The teaching experience I gained in Texas taught me the problems and opportunities of managing a multiethnic classroom. I had to learn how to keep all the students involved in classroom discussions. The experience taught me how to create space for diversity, allowing students to express their tentative but critical perspectives.”

“My approach to teaching is grounded in my experiences during my first year as a high school teacher. The experiences taught me to make teaching fun and show my students that I cared about their learning. I also learned to be creative and try different techniques, especially to reach the students who sat at the back of the class.”

How to write a diversity essay: Impact on your life

In addition to your background, identity, and experiences, a diversity essay should include your outlook, actions, and goals toward enhancing diversity and inclusion.

Outlook, actions, and goals

Your outlook reflects your viewpoint on diversity, and your actions show the steps taken to address that perspective. Your objectives, on the other hand, demonstrate your long-term strategy for encouraging diversity. For example:

Adjust your essay to the university

Different universities may have different values and priorities when it comes to diversity. As a result, you may have to adjust your essay to match the requirements. Here is an example:

“I know that being an architect does not mean just being successful in constructing structures. At Institution A, I mentor a female minority student to help her succeed in her undergraduate architecture degree. I also hope to take on another mentee next year to guide them in their career.”

“I believe University ABC would offer me excellent training. After finding its reputable reviews in the KLM Report, I visited the university’s website for more information. I also contacted X, who earned their graduate degree in marketing from your university, and current business undergraduate student Y, to ask about their experiences. They both spoke highly about the institution and the lecturers.”

What is a diversity essay?

It is a brief and concise essay to supplement your college application. It helps the admissions committee understand your unique background, experiences, motivations, and viewpoints.

Is it necessary to include specific examples in a diversity essay?

Yes, it is. Including examples in your essay can make it more convincing and enhance the quality of your application. It is important to ensure that the text is free of any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.

What should I include in a diversity essay?

You can provide details about how your personal experiences impact your outlook, activities, and objectives. You should also give reasons for your application and elaborate on why you are a suitable fit.

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  • Diversity Statements

Though an increasing number of faculty search committees now ask candidates to submit diversity statements, guidance about how to compose an effective statement—indeed, even about what they are and why they can be valuable to institutions and candidates’ own professional development—remains scarce. You may think that diversity statements require you to locate diversity within your own social identities. You can, of course, note how your identities and life experiences motivate your commitment to diversity. However, beyond your motivation, universities and colleges want to know what you have accomplished in your career to this point and how you will contribute to their goal of making their institutions more inclusive and equitable. The most compelling diversity statements offer your definitions of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) and demonstrate how your research, teaching, and service actualize your EDIB goals.

Schedule a consultation on your diversity statement (Harvard FAS affiliates only) Download our "Composing Your Diversity Statement" worksheet

What is a Diversity Statement?

A diversity statement is a polished, narrative statement, typically 1–2 pages in length, that describes one's accomplishments, goals, and process to advance excellence in diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging as a teacher and a researcher in higher education.

The Building Blocks of a Diversity Statement

The following categories are core components of diversity statements. Effective diversity statements will address each of the following areas and answer some, if not all, of the associated questions.

  • Defining your values
  • Demonstrating your competency
  • Evidencing EDIB in your research, teaching, and service
  • Proposing future action

Equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) are defined in multiple ways across and within institutions. The mission for this component of your statement is to define how you understand these terms and identify your EDIB priorities.

  • How do you define equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB)?
  • What animates your approach to EDIB work in higher education?
  • How do the principles of EDIB relate to your values, approaches, and goals as a scholar and teacher?

> Download a copy of our "Composing Your Diversity Statement" worksheet

EDIB practices, in part, emerge from scholarship that researches the following: (1) the benefits and significance of diversity in higher education; (2) the obstacles and oppression that people who hold marginalized social identities face in higher education; (3) the processes for creating research and learning environments that benefit everyone. The mission for this component of your statement is to highlight your awareness of these conversations and show where your EDIB practices engage with them.

  • How do you regularly account for and address your privilege, bias, and EDIB learning edges?
  • Can you demonstrate knowledge of key EDIB terms (e.g., equality vs. equity; anti-Blackness; race vs. ethnicity; non-binary; DACA; neurodivergent and neurotypical)
  • Do you know how the following operate in the academy: implicit bias, different forms of privilege, (settler-)colonialism, systemic and interpersonal racism, homophobia, heteropatriarchy, and ableism? Can you identify how those factors currently and historically impact marginalized populations in your discipline?

EDIB refers to values, goals, processes, assessments, and outcomes. The mission for this component of your diversity statement is to provide examples of your processes and assessments for attaining your EDIB goals in your research, teaching, and service.

  • How does your research promote or advance equity and inclusion?
  • How does your research engage with and advance the well-being of socially marginalized communities?
  • How does your research acknowledge or interrogate power and privilege?
  • What strategies do you use to respond to the needs of students who are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, nationality, sexual identity, ability, and religion?
  • How do you facilitate challenging conversations on race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, nationality, sexual identity, ability, and religion? What are the benefits and outcomes of your approach?
  • What EDIB theories and approaches do you draw from when teaching (e.g., critical inclusive pedagogy, anti-racist pedagogy, decolonial pedagogy, feminist pedagogy, universal design for learning, active learning)?
  • How do you account for the power dynamics in the classroom, including your own positionality and authority?
  • How do you design course assessments with EDIB in mind?
  • How have you solicited feedback about your EDIB pedagogy from students? What did you learn? How did you incorporate their feedback, and what were the outcomes?
  • How have you engaged in or led EDIB campus initiatives or programming? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What skills or knowledge did you build in the process?
  • Have you engaged in or led other EDIB service beyond your institution? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What skills or knowledge did you build in the process?
  • How has your past participation in EDIB service or activities prepared you to successfully take on your next position?
  • How do you measure the success of your EDIB work?

Your diversity statement should not only showcase the EDIB work you have already accomplished but show how you integrate feedback and assess institutional needs to plan your future EDIB goals.

  • How do you plan to continue advancing inclusive excellence, diversity, or equity in your research, teaching, and service?
  • How do you solicit and respond to EDIB feedback from a range of academic communities?
  • How do your future EDIB goals align with your target institution's EDIB mission and needs?

Some Final Tips and Advice

Some don’ts

Don’t (over)rely on self-disclosure. While you may choose to disclose the social identities you hold while narrating what motivates your commitment to EDIB work, your diversity statement should focus on the work you have done and will do to create diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces of higher education. A diversity statement is about your commitment to furthering EDIB within the context of institutions of higher education, not about cataloguing everything virtuous you’ve ever done to prove that you’re an ally to a marginalized group. Also, never feel compelled to emotionally bleed for a search committee. Keep in mind that some diversity statement prompts may let you know what they prefer in terms of self-disclosure. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s published guidelines to writing a diversity statement emphasize their desire for candidates who share the institution’s commitment to inclusive excellence, “regardless of personal demographic characteristics.”

Beware of false equivalencies. A personally challenging circumstance or series of events is not equivalent to holding a marginalized social identity throughout your lifetime. Similarly, the experiences of having one socially marginalized identity are not the same as the experiences of having a different marginalized social identity.

Don’t use “diversity” to refer to a BIPOC individual or a homogenous BIPOC community. Diversity does not mean a BIPOC individual or a homogenous BIPOC community. Diversity refers to the condition when individuals or communities from different backgrounds, cultures, frames of reference, social identities, or perspectives come together in a social context. It does not refer to a person (including yourself) or a homogenous community who experiences marginalization.

Don’t tailor every statement. Your diversity statement should demonstrate how you have and would effectively plan to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging across contexts, with clear EDIB objectives, expected outcomes, and forms of assessment. Your cover letter is the place for you to tailor your EDIB discussion, possibly referencing institutional contexts and departmental missions while describing specific initiatives you could plan and mentioning potential collaborations with centers and committees.

Learn more about the EDIB challenges and goals of institutions. Before you draft your diversity statement, take time to research a range of websites from the institutional offices of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the universities, colleges, and departments to which you may apply. Note any recurring EDIB challenges and goals, and consider how your experiences and skills might address their needs and further their initiatives.

Show your process. Avoid only stating your belief in EDIB principles without showing methods for attaining your EDIB goals. Additionally, you can also demonstrate how your process reflects your EDIB principles. For example, if decolonizing your pedagogy is your EDIB goal, your process to achieve this may be to revise the readings on your syllabus to include voices outside of the traditional canon. To make the process align with your decolonial approach, you might solicit feedback from students on the readings and curriculum rather than unilaterally selecting the required readings yourself.

State your outcomes and lessons learned. The strongest diversity statements show what you accomplished with your initiatives and how you learned from feedback. Be mindful to state any skills or knowledge you acquired.

Connect your EDIB practices with evidence. Evidencing the effectiveness of your EDIB practices can come from your own assessments and can also be bolstered by the research of scholars who have qualitatively or quantitatively assessed the EDIB practices you utilize.

For more information...

The Effective Diversity Statement (Inside Higher Ed)

Demystifying the Diversity Statement (Inside Higher Ed)

Framework for Diversity Research & Scholarship (National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan)

Sara P. Bombaci and Liba Pejchar, "Advancing Equity in Faculty Hiring with Diversity Statements"

Becoming an Anti-Racist, Equity-Minded Educator (Amherst College Center for Teaching and Learning)

Guidelines for Writing Your Diversity Statement (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

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May 8, 2023

Celebrating Our Differences: Inspiring Essays on Diversity and Inclusion

Ready to celebrate diversity and inclusion? Discover how to craft an exceptional essay on this important topic with our expert tips and real-world examples. Join us as we explore the power of diversity and its impact on individuals and communities alike.

Imagine yourself walking into a room full of people, each with their own stories to tell. What makes your story stand out? What makes your voice unique? This is the essence of a good diversity essay .

In your essay, you have the opportunity to show the admissions committee how your life experiences have shaped your perspective, identity, and aspirations. Through sharing personal stories, you can paint a picture of who you are and how you will contribute to the vibrant tapestry of the campus community.

Maybe it's growing up in a multicultural household that has taught you to value different perspectives and ways of life. Or, perhaps it's overcoming adversity and facing challenges that have made you a more empathetic and resilient person. Whatever your story may be, your diversity essay is a chance to showcase the richness and depth of your lived experiences.

As you craft your essay, think about how your unique background has informed your actions, beliefs, and goals. Share specific examples and anecdotes that bring your story to life, and make sure to emphasize how you will use your diverse perspective to contribute positively to the campus community. With a well-written diversity essay, you can show the admissions committee that you are more than just a set of grades and test scores - you are a unique and valuable addition to their community.

We have provided a guide as well as some essay examples to assist you in writing your essay about diversity. If you need inspiration for an essay, read them till last. But before we dig into the specifics, a basic understanding of diversity is necessary.

What is Diversity in actuality?

institutions. By recognizing and celebrating the unique experiences, viewpoints, and identities of students from diverse backgrounds, schools can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment that benefits everyone. Through diversity essays, students have the opportunity to showcase the strength of diversity and how it can contribute to the greater community. 

Scholarship options designed for historically underserved communities also demonstrate the importance of diversity in leveling the playing field and creating opportunities for all. Therefore, embracing diversity can lead to a stronger and more vibrant academic community.

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion is the practice of making a place where everyone, despite their differences, is treated with dignity and respect . It's the act of making sure nobody is held back from contributing to a group or community because of their identity or background.

Each person's race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, financial background, ability, religion, and other characteristics are valued and celebrated through the practice of inclusion. It's not enough to just tolerate differences; we need to celebrate them and foster communities where everyone can feel safe and included.

To advance social justice and equity, inclusion is crucial. It allows people from all walks of life to meet one another, learn from one another, and work together towards a shared objective. Positive results for individuals and communities can result from their inclusion in more open, welcoming, and supportive settings.

Step-by-Step guide on how to write an essay on diversity and inclusion

Writing an essay on diversity and inclusion is an important task that requires careful planning and execution. In this step-by-step guide, we will provide you with a roadmap on how to write a compelling essay on this topic.

Here are seven suggestions to consider as you write your diversity statement.

Tell your story

Highlight any challenges you had to overcome while writing an essay. Tell the world about how you used to have to lug two 20-pound sacks of rice uphill to school every day. Recognize your privilege if you were born into affluence. Either way, you can utilize your experience to demonstrate your ability to empathize with kids who struggle to complete their education.

Focus on commonly accepted understandings of diversity and inclusiveness

Issues of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation should be given special attention. Don't try to soften your stance by mentioning, for example, how challenging it is to be a Kansan in Missouri. Write about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or another form of oppression that is well-known instead.

Avoid false parallels

When writing a diversity essay, it is important to avoid false parallels. False parallels are when two things appear to be similar, but in reality, they are different. To avoid false parallels, you must carefully examine the similarities and differences between the two things you are comparing. This will help you to make accurate and meaningful comparisons, which will ultimately strengthen your diversity essay.

Write about specific things you have done to help students from underrepresented backgrounds succeed

If you've never helped anybody before, now is the time to start. Become involved as a tutor at a low-performing school, help Habitat for Humanity construct homes, or adopt an antiracist pedagogical approach in your classroom. Not only will you gain valuable experience, but you can also use it to strengthen your diversity statement.

Highlight any programs for underrepresented students you’ve participated in

If you have participated in any programs for underrepresented students, be sure to highlight them in your essay on diversity. This could include programs focused on increasing access to education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, mentorship or internship programs for underrepresented groups, or community service initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion.

By highlighting these programs, you can showcase your commitment to diversity and demonstrate how you have taken active steps to promote equity and inclusion in your community.

Write about your commitment to working toward achieving equity and enhancing diversity

Provide details on what you can bring to the table. You might express your desire to help existing programmes on campus or to start something brand new inspired by what you've seen elsewhere.

Modify your statement based on where you are sending it

When writing an essay on diversity, it's important to tailor your statement to the specific institution or audience you are addressing. Modifying your statement based on where you are sending it shows that you have taken the time to research the institution and understand its values and priorities. This can increase the likelihood of your statement resonating with the reader and ultimately being successful in achieving your goals.

3 Example essays on Diversity and Inclusion

The importance of diversity workforce, introduction.

Workforce diversity is a critical aspect of modern-day organizations. It involves hiring individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, genders, and ages. The concept of workforce diversity is gaining prominence as organizations are increasingly recognizing the benefits of having a diverse workforce. In this essay, we will explore the importance of workforce diversity, the challenges associated with it, and the benefits it offers.

Encourages Innovation and Creativity

Diversity brings together a wide range of perspectives and ideas that can help drive innovation and creativity. When people from diverse backgrounds come together, they can offer different viewpoints and ideas, leading to new solutions to problems.

Enhances Employee Engagement and Retention

Employees who feel included and valued are more engaged and motivated, leading to higher retention rates. When employees feel they belong and are appreciated, they are more likely to stay with the organization, reducing turnover costs.

Increases Global Competitiveness

Diversity in the workforce is crucial for organizations looking to expand globally. Organizations with a diverse workforce are better equipped to understand and navigate the cultural nuances of different countries and regions, making them more competitive in the global marketplace.

Promotes a Positive Image

Organizations that embrace diversity are viewed positively by the public, customers, and employees. A diverse workforce demonstrates that the organization values and respects individuals from all backgrounds, contributing to a positive brand image.

Resistance to Change

Implementing diversity initiatives can be met with resistance, particularly from those who believe that the traditional way of doing things is the best. It is essential to educate and raise awareness about the benefits of diversity to overcome this challenge.

Communication Barriers

When individuals from different backgrounds come together, there may be communication barriers due to language or cultural differences. It is essential to provide training and resources to overcome these barriers and foster effective communication.

Stereotyping and Bias

Stereotyping and bias can negatively impact diversity initiatives. It is essential to establish a culture of inclusivity and respect, where individuals feel valued and appreciated for their unique contributions.

Improved Decision-Making

A diverse workforce can provide a range of perspectives, leading to better decision-making. When individuals with different backgrounds come together, they can offer different viewpoints, leading to a more comprehensive and well-rounded decision-making process.

Increased Creativity and Innovation

Diversity can lead to new ideas and perspectives that can drive innovation and creativity. A diverse workforce can bring together different viewpoints and experiences, leading to new solutions to problems.

Enhanced Reputation

Improved Employee Engagement and Retention

When employees feel included and valued, they are more engaged and motivated, leading to higher retention rates. A diverse workforce can help create a sense of belonging, leading to improved employee engagement and retention.

Workforce diversity is crucial for modern-day organizations. It can lead to improved decision-making, increased creativity and innovation, and enhanced reputation. However, diversity initiatives can be met with resistance, communication barriers, stereotyping, and bias. It is essential to establish a culture of inclusivity and respect, where individuals feel valued and appreciated for their unique contributions. By embracing diversity, organizations can create a more productive, engaged, and innovative workforce.

2. The challenges of diversity in different institutions

Diversity is a term that describes the differences among people, whether they are cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic, gender, or sexual orientation differences. While diversity is often celebrated, it can also pose challenges, especially in institutions such as schools, workplaces, and governments. This essay will explore the challenges of diversity in different institutions and how they can be addressed.

Challenges of Diversity in Schools

Schools are meant to be places where students can learn and grow, but diversity can sometimes be a challenge. Students who come from different backgrounds may face discrimination and exclusion from their peers, which can affect their ability to learn and thrive.

Teachers may also struggle to provide a curriculum that is inclusive of all students experiences and perspectives. Addressing these challenges requires a commitment to creating an inclusive environment where all students feel valued and respected.

Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace

Workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse, but this diversity can pose challenges. Employees from different cultural backgrounds may struggle to communicate effectively or may feel excluded from the workplace culture. Discrimination and bias can also be a problem, as can the assumption that everyone shares the same experiences and perspectives. To address these challenges, employers need to be proactive in creating a workplace culture that values diversity and promotes inclusivity. This can involve training and education for employees, as well as policies and procedures that support diversity and inclusion.

Challenges of Diversity in Government

Governments are responsible for serving diverse populations, but this can be a challenge. Members of different cultural and linguistic groups may have different needs and expectations from their government, and some groups may face discrimination or exclusion. 

To address these challenges, governments need to be proactive in engaging with diverse communities and ensuring that their policies and programs are inclusive. This can involve outreach and consultation with community groups, as well as the development of policies that reflect the needs and perspectives of diverse communities.

Ways to Address the Challenges of Diversity

Addressing the challenges of diversity requires a commitment to creating inclusive environments where all individuals feel valued and respected. This can involve several strategies, including education and training, policies and procedures, and community engagement.

Education and training can help individuals better understand the experiences and perspectives of those from different backgrounds. This can involve training programs for employees or professional development opportunities for teachers. It can also involve curriculum changes in schools that better reflect the experiences and perspectives of diverse students.

Policies and procedures can also play a role in promoting diversity and inclusion. This can involve policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace or schools. It can also involve policies that promote diversity in hiring or that ensure that government programs and services are inclusive of all members of the community.

Community engagement is also an important strategy for promoting diversity and inclusion. This can involve outreach to community groups and the development of partnerships with organizations that serve diverse communities. It can also involve the creation of advisory committees or other mechanisms for engaging with diverse populations.

In conclusion, diversity is an important aspect of our society, but it can also pose challenges in different institutions. Schools, workplaces, and governments need to be proactive in creating inclusive environments where all individuals feel valued and respected. This requires a commitment to education and training, policies and procedures that promote diversity and inclusion, and community engagement. By addressing the challenges of diversity, we can create a more equitable and inclusive society for all.

3. Ideas on how to Reduce Discrimination in Society

Racial discrimination is a pervasive issue that has plagued society for centuries. It is a problem that continues to affect individuals and communities around the world. Discrimination is an act that denies individuals equal rights, opportunities, and treatment based on their race or ethnicity. The impacts of racism are far-reaching, and it affects individuals' economic, social, and emotional well-being. Therefore, there is a need for collective efforts to reduce racial discrimination and promote social justice. This essay discusses some of the best ways to reduce racial discrimination in society.

Education and Awareness

Education is a powerful tool that can help reduce racial discrimination. Education is essential in teaching individuals about diversity, equity, and inclusion. When people understand the impact of racism, they are more likely to become allies and advocates for change. Education can take many forms, such as books, documentaries, and workshops. 

Institutions can also incorporate cultural competency training into their curriculum to educate students and faculty members about the impact of discrimination. It is essential to recognize the different forms of discrimination, including implicit bias, microaggressions, and institutional racism, to address them appropriately.

Political Action

Political action is another way to reduce racial discrimination in society. Leaders at the local, state, and federal levels can enact policies that promote equality and diversity. Policies such as affirmative action and diversity initiatives can promote inclusion in the workforce and educational institutions. 

Politicians can also pass laws that make racial discrimination illegal and provide support to victims of discrimination. It is essential to recognize that racism is a systemic issue that requires political action to address.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is an important way to reduce racial discrimination. Building strong communities that are inclusive and diverse can help reduce racism. Communities can engage in activities that promote diversity, such as cultural festivals, food fairs, and art exhibits. 

These events can help build bridges between different communities and promote understanding. Community members can also engage in conversations about racism and work together to address it. This can create a sense of belonging and unity that can help reduce discrimination.

Diversity in Institutions

Institutions play a significant role in reducing racial discrimination. Institutions such as schools, businesses, and government agencies can promote diversity by recruiting and retaining individuals from diverse backgrounds. A diverse workforce or student body can help reduce discrimination by promoting inclusion and understanding. 

Institutions can also create policies that promote equality and diversity, such as flexible work arrangements, diversity training, and bias reporting systems. It is important to ensure that institutions are representative of the communities they serve to reduce discrimination.

In conclusion, reducing racial discrimination requires a collective effort from individuals, institutions, and political leaders. Education and awareness, political action, community engagement, and diversity in institutions are all effective ways to address discrimination. It is important to recognize that reducing discrimination is a long-term effort that requires commitment and perseverance. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society that values diversity and promotes social justice.

Final Words

In conclusion, embracing diversity and inclusion is crucial for creating a more equitable and harmonious society. Whether it's through recognizing and celebrating racial diversity and cultural diversity, fostering a sense of belonging for all individuals, or actively working to combat discrimination and prejudice, we must prioritize these values in all aspects of our lives. By championing diversity and inclusion, we can cultivate a richer, more vibrant world that values the unique perspectives and experiences of all people. By embracing diversity and inclusion, we can build a better future for ourselves and for generations to come.

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what is a diversity essay

Diversity Statement 101: An Essay Guide for Champions

Diversity Statement 101

The Diversity Statement, and its close cousins the Personal History and Personal Contributions essays, might be the hardest part of graduate applications. The prompts are so vague and open-ended. They often make applicants shudder.

What am I supposed to write about?

What if I’m not a minority?

Is it okay if I write about my illness and how this lowered my GPA?

For many students who belong to underrepresented populations, these essays often seem patronizing. “How dare you use my identity to pad your demographic stats,” they think. And they’re not entirely wrong. There is a degree of stat-padding involved, though the intentions are noble.

For other students, those who have dealt with physical illness or personal tragedies during their undergrad careers, these essays are an opportunity to show what they’re truly capable of. “I am not defined by my tragedies,” they say, “but how I overcame them.”

For other students, those who sailed through their youth without calamity, these essays can be daunting. They read that word “diversity” and think it doesn’t apply to them. They focus on the apparent socio-political narrative, without recognizing how they’ve positively contributed to communities in which they belong.

For all of these students, the Diversity Statement can be a tricky monster.

Luckily, the Diversity Statement is still an act of storytelling. And as the timeless lessons of narrative structure teach us, all monsters can be conquered by a champion.

This is the key to your Diversity Statement and other personal essays: you must become a champion.

It’s not the story of how difficult or disadvantaged your life has been. It’s not a pity party or an excuse for your (perceived) failures. It’s the story of how you took the resources you’ve been given, and became a champion who makes the world (and university campuses) a better place to live.

Let’s find the champion in you, friend.

What Does “Diversity” Mean?

If you want to succeed with your grad applications, your diversity statement will have little to do with race, gender, religion, or sexuality labels . Instead, it will have everything to do with the ways you’ve chosen, as an individual, to make the world better.

This is why these essays are sometimes called “Personal Contribution” statements. They’re about how you grew and changed and succeeded and made your community different .

Think that simply being a Buddhist orphan will help you get into grad school? Wrong. (Though it might help you get into a monastery.)

But what if you’re a Buddhist orphan who’s taught meditation on campus for three years, who sweeps the steps of Los Angeles’s Hsi Lai Temple every summer, and who mentors other orphans in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, all while earning a 3.7 GPA in Neuroscience and working two years in a lab researching the effects of mindfulness on depression?

One of these is different from the other.

One says, “This is who I am.”

The other says, “This is what I do.”

The funny thing is, the impact of this story has little to do with our fictional student’s demographic label. Instead, it has everything to do with what she’s accomplished. As a thought exercise, imagine that instead of a Buddhist orphan from Los Angeles, she’s a white, heterosexual son of Baptist doctors from Austin, Texas.

This doctors’ son surely has a story. Perhaps it was an impactful teacher. Perhaps his parents resented him for it. But either way, this young man became a certified meditation teacher, worked in his community for years, mentored disadvantaged children, and studied hard while conducting meaningful research.

As long as the stories are heartfelt and real (and not the gimmick of a child of privilege seeking an advantage), the admissions committee will recognize it. They’ll know one thing for certain about either student: they’ll make a beautifully positive impact on a new graduate campus.

Just remember this:

If you want to write about identity labels in your Diversity Statement, it’s not about whether you are diverse. It’s about whether you’ve contributed to a more diverse world.

The Adversity Elephant in the Room

Students with “adversity stories” often get ridiculously good admissions results…but only if they’ve truly excelled in school. Why?

Consider two NYU classmates. Both have 3.8 GPAs and equal GRE scores. Both have published Political Science papers and submit excellent LORs. Both have years of volunteer work in public advocacy. Both apply to the same grad schools.

One, however, comes from an upper class NYC family. She went to a ritzy private high school. Her father is a Columbia professor and her mother an investment banker. The other student was a political asylee from Egypt. As a child, she saw family members murdered at gunpoint. She fled to America with her siblings, never saw her father again, lived in poverty, and learned English in public school.

Yet, both students achieved the same results. Different inputs, exact same output. Both are magnificent scholars. Both will get into grad school and succeed. One, however, had to work a lot harder to get those results, and for this, she will be rewarded.

When we talk about diversity, it’s not our applicant’s label as an immigrant first-generation college student that makes her special. It’s that she succeeded when all the odds were against her. We know that both of these students will succeed. But one of them, we know, is absolutely invincible.

Now, if our political asylee friend had a 3.4 GPA and no publications, would she get the same admissions results? Almost certainly not. She’ll still get admitted, but not at the most rigorous and competitive programs, or at least not all of them. In this case, the inputs are different, but so are the outputs. The NYC girl starts to look more capable of succeeding in intense graduate-level work.

It’s a complex issue with lots of nuance, and admissions committees take great pains to consider the true potential of every applicant. For this, we should be thankful for the opportunity to tell our story in a Diversity Statement or Personal History. But in the end, it’s a matter of how our “story” compares to the stories of others with similar academic success.

The “Upward Trending GPA” Trap

Many applicants use the Diversity Statement or Personal History to explain obstacles in their pasts that led to less-than-perfect academic performance. Perhaps they dealt with mental illness for one bleak semester. Perhaps they’re a member of the LGBT in an antagonistic religious community. Perhaps they grew up with abusive parents or a misogynist lab colleague made their life a living hell.

Often, when these applicants seek help online, they receive heartwarming advice:

Own your story. It’s who you are and doesn’t reflect your future. But be sure to show the upward trend in your GPA over time. This shows you have overcome those obstacles.

While this advice is correct, many students focus on the first part and make mistakes with the second.

For applicants who maybe have a modest 3.2 GPA, it’s tempting to blame adversity for our lack of success. “This doesn’t reflect my true potential,” they imply . “If I wasn’t a victim, I’d have achieved so much more.” Then they promise that they’ll do better if admitted to the utopia of graduate school.

Yet, this is only a promise. It provides no proof that the future will be different. While admissions committees will certainly sympathize with these candidates, we can’t ignore reality: grad schools aren’t charity organizations. This is still a student with a lower GPA who hasn’t yet proven that he can succeed in the greater challenges of grad school. After all, the GPA is the only verifiable info in the essay.

By using your adversity to justify a lower GPA, you force the reader to focus on the GPA as the final result. You make them double-check your transcripts to see how bad it really is.

Instead of showing yourself to be a champion, you’ve shown yourself to be someone who needs to be saved. In this case, the grad school is the hero, and you’re begging them to save your life.

It’s not a good look.

Thus, the key to being a champion is to never focus on the bad stuff at all . Seriously. Never describe it in any detail. Never paint yourself as a victim. Instead, tell the story of how adversity transformed you into someone who’s made a real and verifiable contribution to the world .

Compare the following two students:

“During sophomore year, I chose to abandon my orthodox Muslim upbringing. The struggle was unbearable, I separated from my family, and depression caused me to earn a 2.4 GPA for two semesters. However, I am proud to have made this decision. Now, I am confident that my GPA does not define who I am, and I feel ready and eager to achieve my full potential.”

“As someone who faced the trauma of severing ties with a deeply orthodox family, I am proud to have spent so many weekends volunteering with Recovering from Religion. In the last three years, I have spent countless hours with young women like me. We have shed tears together. We have provided counseling, academic tutoring, and job placement services. Today, as I graduate on the Dean’s List, I do so alongside an army of strong women who have taken back their lives and found faith in one another.”

One of these students is a champion. The other seems like she might be a tad overconfident.

As one dear friend of mine put it on Reddit , people love Batman for his crime-fighting skills, not because of how much it sucks to be an orphan.

Pro Tip:  Leave the GPA stuff in your SOP. But even there, only mention your much higher major GPA or the GPA from your final, better semesters. As professional salespeople teach us: “Never give them a reason to say ‘no.’”

But isn’t this just an essay about volunteer work?

No. Not always.

For students who’ve gone through difficult episodes that lowered their academic performance, they don’t need years of volunteer work to prove themselves a champion. Instead, they need to focus on the results of their transformation , and how it’s made them a better scholar.

(You know all heroes must go through a transformation, right?)

Once, I worked with an uber-successful Engineering applicant. He was admitted to multiple top master’s programs despite a period during undergrad when he was hospitalized due to serious mental illness and saw a massive drop in his GPA.

We know that mental illness is a “ Kiss of Death ” in grad applications, right? We also know that cataclysmic grades are usually the ultimate kiss of death. So, how did this student succeed?

In his Personal History, the student was very careful in describing his issue. It wasn’t a “mental illness,” but a “personal health challenge.” When he mentioned this, he didn’t give it more than a few words . He didn’t want the committee focusing on his problem, nor on the two bad semesters it caused. Instead, he wanted them focusing on what came after.

He said this temporary setback allowed him to concentrate on what he could control …his academic career. He described the rigorous time-management methods he learned. He described the egregious amount of time he spent in his professors’ office hours. He explained how he developed the habit of referencing course materials against other textbooks, often unassigned, and how this led him to the curious discovery of his thesis topic. Most importantly, he pointed out how these skills made him a Dean’s List student for his final four semesters, with a perfect 4.0 in Engineering courses .

In the end, he wasn’t a student recovering from a traumatic episode. He’d already recovered. Now, he was a 4.0 engineer who was obviously ready to succeed even further. His traumatic episode didn’t make him a victim. It was an early chapter in the story of how he transformed into a champion.

The 3 Sections of a Champion Diversity Statement

  • Inciting Event or Status Quo (1 paragraph)
  • Gradual Journey Forward and Transformation (2-4 paragraphs)
  • Living as a Champion Today (1 paragraph)

The key to becoming a champion is to show your transformation occurring gradually over time. This never happens immediately. There is never one fierce decision to change.

If a student says, “the day my father died was the day I decided to become a cancer researcher,” then we don’t believe them. It’s childish. No one can just decide to become a cancer researcher. That takes a thousand small self-discoveries and decisions over years. First they must decide to study medicine. Then they take a cancer-focused class with an inspiring teacher. Then they discover a talent for biostatistics. Then they join a lab where they begin to realize they can truly be a professional researcher.

This slow, gradual transformation is the real story of your essay. By encapsulating this journey in a frame narrative, one that provides a theme for the story and ends by emphasizing your successes and preparedness for the future, you craft an essay that will resonate deeply in the minds of the admissions reader.

1. Inciting Event or Status Quo (1 paragraph)

In this brief, one-paragraph section, you establish the world in which you’ve transformed (and perhaps helped others transform as well). You might describe a tragedy in your life. You might describe the difficulties of growing up in an immigrant family, with parents who never went to college. You might not have experienced major difficulties yourself, but perhaps you’ve witnessed the difficulties others faced, and did what you could to make things better. In a professional, straightforward, mature, unemotional, and completely non-melodramatic tone , you describe that world here.

Appalachia is a beautiful place, though not everyone agrees. This is something I often discussed with my father, a coal miner in Eastern Kentucky, after my mother died. Where we maintain a quiet pride in our landscape and culture, the world outside often paints a different picture. They point to the opioid epidemic. They call our people hostile and uneducated. And in some ways, they are correct. Like many locales throughout the nation, the twenty-five million inhabitants of Appalachia have their own problems. Yet, these problems do not reflect the world in which I was raised.

2. Gradual Journey Forward and Transformation (2-4 paragraphs)

This section will make up the bulk of your essay. Even though I hate “autobiography” SOPs , this longer section of your Diversity Statement will show a chronological journey through time. For most students, this is easy. You don’t need to worry about fancy structures or writing techniques. You just tell your story, all the while remembering the overarching theme. In the example above, we know that the author is going to tell us a story about growing up in rural Kentucky, and how the difficulties gave him strengths that make him a scholar with incredible potential today.

When I left home to attend Georgetown University, I often felt dismayed by how freely my educated classmates mimicked my accent, mouthed a banjo melody, or asked if I grew up in a trailer. (I did.) Occasionally, a classmate with a proclivity for hiking would speak beautifully of the Appalachian Trail, a sentiment I share, though the AT lies three hours away in Virginia. No one ever mentioned the way hundreds of people will stand for hours at the church steps on a hot Saturday, waiting to pay respects to the wife of a fellow miner who has died. No one knew that in my high school, African-American, Latino, Indian, Filipino, Native American, and Korean students roam the halls (as well as one Californian who was the true fish out of water). Few knew that the banjo evolved from the stringed West African akonting.

In many ways, these misunderstandings inspired me to work even harder these past three years, though hard work has never been a problem for me. After spending two summers toiling full-time in the same coal mine as my father, Biostatistics final exams, lab work, and waiting tables on weekends are a pleasure. In fact, it sometimes makes me feel guilty. While I collect tips or compare effects of FLASH radiation therapy, I know my father is ignoring his bad back and arthritic knees, on the night shift, but will still rise to attend church in the morning. What have I done compared to this?

3. Living as a Champion Today (1 paragraph)

In this final section, we arrive at “the point” of your Diversity Statement: that everything you’ve done in life, all you’ve been through, has made you a better candidate for graduate school. You aren’t lamenting the difficulties of your life. You aren’t simply labelling yourself as a member of a disadvantaged community. You’re proving that all this has made you better. Here, you might describe community service and how you’ve given back to the world. But, most importantly, you’ll state why these efforts will help you succeed in your master’s or PhD.

Yet as difficult as these realities can be, I know that they will only make me a better student and lab partner at Harvard. I have been fortunate to work as a community ambassador for cancer awareness in both Eastern Kentucky and Northern Virginia. The people with whom I work come from a range of backgrounds, but all share the same struggle, the same one that killed my own mother eight years ago. None of them ever care about my accent. They only appreciate that I am there to serve, just as I will in the classrooms and laboratories at Harvard. Today, I am certain of my readiness to stand alongside researchers of any culture or social class, in pursuit of the scientific goals that most benefit the community around us. In doing this, I will honor my mother, my father, my university, and the land in which I was raised.

A Note on Tone

As I said earlier, you will write in a professional, straightforward, mature, unemotional, and completely non-melodramatic tone . This isn’t a creative writing exercise. It’s not a screenplay. It’s an exercise in clarity and honesty. Don’t paint pictures of the difficult scenes in your life. By telling the story straight, you’ll sound more confident – more like a graduate scholar.

A Note on Time

If the Statement of Purpose is about the future , the Diversity Statement is about the past .

Most universities only want to know what you’ll accomplish in the future. They only ask for an SOP, which is 100% academic, a logical argument for why you’ll make a great chemist, data scientist, or financial engineer.

But those universities who ask for a Diversity Statement or Personal History…they do want to know about your past. This helps them contextualize your future. By seeing how well you understand yourself, they can better determine how valuable you’ll be as a member of their community.

When considering how these two essays work together, think of them like this:

Diversity Statement and SOP Timeline

Conclusion on the Diversity Statement

Whatever we call them – Diversity Statements or Personal Contributions – these essays are tricky for everyone. As you begin writing yours, please don’t think you need to fit into some kind of precut mold. Don’t think that grad schools only seek students who fill a demographic quota. Instead, see this as an opportunity to let your individuality and contributions shine. You aren’t beholden to identity labels or the community in which you grew up. You aren’t a failure because of a few dark days, nor are you less attractive as a scholar because your life has been comparatively smooth.

We all have issues to work out. We all have an identity formed in the crucible of our unique experiences. What matters is only that you changed, grew, evolved, transformed, and have now become someone who’s capable of making a wonderful impact on the world. Someone who’s willing to be a champion. Even if your efforts are quiet, even if the best you can do is remain open-hearted and respectful to everyone you encounter in the classroom or lab, you can be on the side of the champions, and there will be a spot in grad school for you.

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Human Rights Careers

5 Essays About Diversity

Many see “diversity” as an empty buzzword. It’s only empty when it isn’t truly engaged with. In basic terms, diversity encompasses traits that make people unique from one another. This includes race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, and more. A “diverse” environment is one where differences are welcomed, respected, and appreciated. Here are five essays that expand on the concept of diversity:

“How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” (2017) – Dr. Katherine W. Phillips

Diversity is a hot topic these days. What are the benefits? In this article, Katherine Phillips explores how diversity fuels innovation, creativity, better problem-solving, and more. Decades of research support this. That doesn’t mean diversity is easy. Research also shows that social diversity within a group can cause discomfort. Communication and trust can be more challenging. It’s still worth it. Phillips compares the painful parts of diversity with the pain of exercise. After a good workout, you may be sore, but continuing to exercise is the only way to strengthen and grow your muscles. Diversity works the same way.

Scientific American originally published this article in 2014. The version on Greater Good Magazine was revised and updated. Dr. Phillips was the Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics Management at Columbia Business School. She passed away in January 2020.

“Why Diversity Matters” -Ruchika Tulshyan

Many companies are embracing diversity and inclusion. At the same time, this shift makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Some even argue against diversity. In this essay, Ruchika Tulshyan breaks down why diversity is so valuable to the business world. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion is necessary to draw in – and keep – the best talent. It also results in better products and better customer service. When it’s actively embraced and engaged with, diversity is hard. It’s also important if companies want to evolve and thrive.

Ruchika Tulshyan is the founder of Candour, an inclusion communications and strategy firm. She’s also the author of “The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace.” She’s covered leadership and diversity for Forbes and written pieces for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Time, and more.

“Diversity in publishing – still hideously middle-class and white?” (2017) – Arifa Akbar

This essay opens on an incident in 2015. The British publishing world was accused of lack of diversity based on literary festivals and prize nominations. Book list after book list came out, all with only white authors. Did they correct the course? Arifa Akbar describes some initiatives that the publishing industry tried. The only way to achieve systemic change, however, is for inclusivity to reach the top. This isn’t for the benefit of authors. Those excluded find smaller presses or even start their own. Traditional publishing needs diversity if it hopes to appeal to the next generation.

Arifa Akbar is the Guardian’s chief theatre critic. She also worked at the Independent for 15 years as a news reporter and then as an arts correspondent and literary editor.

“Diversity in STEM: What It Is and Why It Matters” (2014) – Dr. Kenneth Gibbs Jr.

An older piece from 2014, this article brings up points that are still important today. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a highly-innovative field. It produces research and inventions that touch every part of society. However, when it comes to diversity in this field, there’s disagreement. Kenneth Gibbs Jr. explores what “diversity” means and why it matters in science. Benefits include excellence within research teams and better talent.

Kenneth Gibbs Jr. is a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. He works on policy-relevant research that strengthens the research enterprise. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Postdoctoral Association.

“Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?” (2018) – Claire Cain Miller

Diversity within the workplace is much-discussed, but what about the classroom? In this article from the New York Times, Claire Cain Miller takes a closer look at the effects of diversity. Research shows that male students in particular benefit when teachers share their gender or race. Digging deeper into that, black boys are also more affected by poverty and racism. On the other side of things, role models and high-quality schooling have a significant, positive impact. Most teachers today are white women. Research implies that more diverse teachers would benefit a classroom. In the meantime, schools can train their teachers about bias and stereotypes.

Claire Cain Miller joined The Times in 2008. With a team, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service by reporting on workplace sexual harassment. She writes about families, gender, and the future of work for The Upshot.

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21 Essays About Diversity For Students and Writers

Colleges and employers often ask for essays about diversity as part of the application process, and this list of 21 topic ideas is a great place to start.

Diversity is a hot topic in today’s society. Everything from ethnicity to sexual orientation can be a topic to discuss when discussing ethical and cultural diversity. If you are assigned a diversity essay for your high school or college classwork, your writing begins with finding a great topic.

Essays about diversity often explore the writer’s cultural background or demographic. While ethnicity can be one topic, diversity can also discuss gender, socioeconomic status, and even non-ethnic culture. These factors give the writer a unique perspective on life and society, and that makes an excellent starting point for an essay.

Because diversity is such a broad topic, you may find it difficult to create an essay or personal statement on this particular topic without direction. Here are some topic ideas that can help you connect your experiences to the topic of diversity. Before we dive in , for help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers .

1. The Definition of Diversity

2. why diversity matters in society, 3. how workplaces can promote diversity and inclusion, 4. what are the drawbacks of emphasizing diversity in the workplace, 5. what are the benefits of diversity in the workplace, 6. how a diverse student body benefits a college, 7. how has an aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences, 8. describe your place within a community group, 9. does racial discrimination exist, and how has it changed, 10. describe a diverse community you have been part of, 11. how did you overcome your socioeconomic status, 12. how can you contribute to the diversity of an organization, 13. what are the main problems preventing gender equality, 14. how does diversity influence college students, 15. how can you become more diverse, 16. why are ancient traditions important, 17. mass media’s influence on cultural diversity, 18. how to find a sense of belonging in a multicultural group, 19. communication in a diverse community, 20. how the digital world increases cultural diversity, 21. is unity in diversity possible.

Essays About Diversity

One of the first ways to discuss diversity in an essay is by defining it. Many people consider diversity the mixing of different cultures and people groups into one cohesive group, but is it more? Could it be the attitude of respect and appreciation shown to people in these groups within a community?

Defining diversity is more difficult than you might think depending on your education and background. For an open-ended diversity assignment, explore what this concept means to you and your peer group.

How does diversity impact society as a whole? What does it mean to say modern society is a “melting pot” of different ideas and cultures? In this essay, you can explore how this cultural diversity and the many minority groups within society add their own brand of uniqueness to the world.

This essay can explore the contributions of different cultural and ethnic groups within society as a whole. It can build the argument that diversity is important by exploring the connectivity of the modern world and how different people groups impact one another.

Diversity in the workplace is a topic of much debate. Many organizations offer initiatives and incentives to encourage their branches to hire more minorities and people from smaller groups within the population. This essay topic would explore what types of incentives might work best.

It could also touch on how to incentivize minority hiring without discriminating against those who are not in a minority group. The key would be to create a balanced workforce, not to have anyone group prohibited from getting the job they want.

Diversity in the workplace seems like a worthy goal, but does it have drawbacks? This essay lets you explore potential drawbacks . For example, diversity initiatives cost money to implement, and that can hurt the organization. Similarly, while diverse teams benefit from the different backgrounds of their members, they sometimes do not work as efficiently as teams made up of people who share similar life experiences, viewpoints, or cultures.

Diversity can also create communication issues and cultural misunderstandings. Workplaces may also find it difficult to define diversity in a way that satisfies everyone or meets the unique needs of the different groups of people within a particular business or organization.

Essays About Diversity: Benefits of diversity in the workplace

Like most things, diversity has both benefits and drawbacks, and you can create an essay that highlights the benefits. Some potential benefits include bringing in people from multiple cultural groups in order to understand the personal experience of those groups and, in turn, reach people from those groups that may be potential customers or clients. Diverse workplaces are also more likely to be innovative, as the different people have diverse backgrounds to contribute to the discussion.

While some organizations find diversity creates less efficiency, others find it improves it. One Changeboard study found that companies with diverse leadership had 57 percent more effectiveness and efficiency in collaboration than those who did not. Find these and other benefits to write about in your diversity essay.

College admissions departments push for diversity, and for good reason. Some of the largest grant-giving organizations in the country will consider diversity when looking at a college’s grant proposals, which means diversity could lead to more funding. But money is just one benefit.

For the students, a diverse student body helps them meet additional people from different walks of life while gaining their college education. For professors, it gives them a richer experience in the classroom and in research because they can probe the cultural ideals of multiple people groups. As you delve more deeply into this topic, you will likely find several additional items you can add to your list to round out your essay.

Sometimes the goal of a diversity essay is to see if you can think critically about your own life experiences and personal identity. This essay prompt invites you to look at a particular aspect of your identities, such as your culture, ethnicity, sexual identity, or something similar, and relate it to your life experiences.

Learn more about how to create a writing prompt .

This essay requires introspection and analytical thinking. It is also highly personal to the writer. You have to be able to connect who you are to what you have experienced and then show how both of those have shaped you as a person.

Communities have groups within them that share things like socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or ideology. Most people are within multiple of these community groups. For this essay, the writer chooses one they identify with and describes how they fit within this group.

Not only will you explain why that group is one they belong to, but you will also explain your place within it. Are you a leader, or a learner? Do you anticipate remaining in this group for life, or is it a passing interest? How has your role within this group defined who you are as a person today, and how will it influence you in the future?

Essays About Diversity: Does racial discrimination exist, and how has it changed?

Diversity remains an important topic because racial discrimination still exists, most would argue. While we may not have separate drinking fountains and bathrooms like during the Civil Rights era, racial discrimination still happens. First, this essay establishes how discrimination happens. Then it discusses how that discrimination has changed from past generations to today.

This essay topic has many potential directions, but the point is that diversity has not eliminated discrimination. It takes more subtle forms today, but it still exists. You could also discuss how to fight this problem in your essay if you need a higher word count after discussing the way diversity has changed.

Most people can think of a diverse community they have been part of. It might be a workplace, classroom, or neighborhood. Think about your life experiences and determine what diverse groups have been part of those experiences.

In your essay, describe how the diversity made the group successful. Did the different cultural groups interact? Did they build off of and learn from each other, and how did they support and respect each other? Show that you can value diversity by how you see it valued in your groups.

Socioeconomic status is one of the aspects of diversity that can be part of your essay. If you overcame a particular socio-economic challenge to get to where you are today, you can transform that into an engaging essay.

This essay prompt works well for college entrance essays that look for self-reflection. It allows you to paint yourself as an aggressive and effective worker who is able to overcome adversity to find success. This tenacity can make you more appealing as a student in the university setting.

This essay prompt can work well for employment essays or essays for the college admissions committee. It allows you to show ways your background and culture could add to the diversity of the organization. Even if you are not part of an ethnic minority, you could show how your cultural experiences, ideological views, or even extensive foreign travel can bring something unique to the table for the organization.

This essay topic is particularly important if you are looking to impress someone with your diversity knowledge, even if you do not identify in a specific minority group that the organization targets. You can show how your worldview and culture can be an asset to the organization if they choose to hire or admit you.

Gender inequality, especially in the workplace, remains a problem. One Pew Research Study found that women earn, on average, 84% of what men earn doing the same job. Studying the barriers to gender inequality can turn into a solid essay topic.

With this essay, make sure that you list the problems and discuss potential solutions. Is the lack of maternity leave and childcare hindering women from climbing the corporate ladder as quickly as men, or is it long-held cultural beliefs that keep women back in the workforce? What can be done to address these issues and make gender equality a reality?

Because diversity essays are commonly called for on the college level, this topic idea addresses diversity in college head-on. You will discuss how diversity on college campuses influences students. While many influences will be positive, such as expanding cultural understanding and tolerance, some may be negative, like challenges working on collaborative projects with a person who does not share ideology or cultural background.

Since colleges promote diversity so heavily, you are likely to find primarily positive outcomes for this topic. However, be sure to dig in and consider what could be a drawback, too. Having a balance between the two will show the reader that you can think critically on important topics.

Is it possible to become a more diverse person? The answer to this question depends on how you define diversity. However, through travel to foreign countries and exposure to people groups outside of your comfort zone, you may be able to expand your diversity as an individual, provided you define diversity as the respect and admiration for other cultures.

In this essay, you can evaluate areas where you lack diversity. Then, you can look at ways to add it. This diversity essay gives you the chance to perform self-reflection, which teachers and admissions professionals often want to see.

Ancient traditions are the traditions of cultural groups that are not commonly practiced in modern society. Many cultural groups find these to be anchoring, drawing them back to their culture of origin and reminding them of where they came from. This essay will discuss why supporting and highlighting these ancient traditions is important.

To begin this essay, you will need to define what ancient traditions are. Then, you will need to show how they remain vital in modern society by tying people back to their cultural roots. Finally, you could discuss ways in which ancient cultures and their traditions can benefit modern society as a whole.

Is mass media helping or hurting the individuality of cultures? You could argue either way with this essay. On the one hand, mass media allows us to interact with and learn about cultures we normally would not engage with, and that can have a positive impact on cultural diversity.

On the other hand, mass media can have a melting pot effect, reducing the individuality of cultures by making us all appear as the same. This effect could be a negative effect. In your essay, decide whether the total effect is primarily positive or primarily negative, and then discuss why.

One of the potential challenges of a highly diverse society is the difficulty people have in finding a sense of belonging. We often discover a sense of belonging when we find things in common with the people around us, and there may not be many commonalities with a highly multicultural group.

This essay would explore ways to combat this problem. It will discuss how members of a multicultural community can dig in and find interests in common with other community members, or how they can learn about different cultural groups to gain some common ground.

One of the challenges of diversity is the different communication styles between people groups. Gender differences and cultural differences between individuals mean different ways of relating and communicating. This essay will discuss these differences and the ways that organizations can overcome them.

For example, some cultures find directly stating opinions to be forward, while others expect this. How could a company embrace both communication styles to get things done without people feeling offended due to cultural differences? Exploring questions like these will create a thought-provoking essay.

Having the internet always at one’s fingertips makes connecting with people of other cultures easier, which can lend itself to an essay topic on diversity. With this essay, you can explore whether or not the digital world and its accessibility is helping or hurting cultural diversity. You can then explore ways that organizations can use the digital world to add more diversity within their communities.

One potential drawback of this digital world is that it promotes cultural amalgamation. The distinction between different cultural groups gets blurred. While this can lead to more inclusion, it can also lead to the loss of important parts of these cultures as they all start to merge together.

Is it possible for a highly diverse community to live and operate in unity? Exploring the answer to this question can build a solid essay. If a community has people from many cultural, religious, and social groups, are they able to live in a unified manner?

The answer to this question may depend on how the cultural or religious groups function. If something held dear by one group is against the foundational beliefs of another, then unity may not be possible. On the other hand, if they are just differences that are not in opposition to each other, unity is something that the larger community may be able to achieve, even without giving up those features that make it diverse.

If you are interested in learning more, check out our essay writing tips !

what is a diversity essay

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Unity in Diversity: The Effects of Cultural Diversity in America

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Diversity in American Colleges and Universities

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1. Hébert, Y. (2001). Identity, diversity and education: A critical review of the literature. Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal, 33(3), 155-187. (https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA89970655&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=00083496&p=AONE&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7Ea755c7fe) 2. Civitillo, S., Juang, L. P., & Schachner, M. K. (2018). Challenging beliefs about cultural diversity in education: A synthesis and critical review of trainings with pre-service teachers. Educational Research Review, 24, 67-83. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1747938X18300629) 3. Cushner, K. (1992). Human Diversity in Education: An Integrative Approach. McGraw-Hill, Princeton Road, Hightstown, NJ 08520.. (https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED364623) 4. Banks, J. A. (2015). Cultural diversity and education: Foundations, curriculum, and teaching. Routledge. (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/edit/10.4324/9781315622255/cultural-diversity-education-james-banks) 5. Gurin, P., Nagda, B. R. A., & Lopez, G. E. (2004). The benefits of diversity in education for democratic citizenship. Journal of social issues, 60(1), 17-34. (https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0022-4537.2004.00097.x) 6. Roberson, Q. M. (2019). Diversity in the workplace: A review, synthesis, and future research agenda. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 6, 69-88. (https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-012218-015243) 7. Morgan, J., & Várdy, F. (2009). Diversity in the Workplace. American Economic Review, 99(1), 472-485. (https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.99.1.472) 8. Ilmakunnas, P., & Ilmakunnas, S. (2011). Diversity at the workplace: Whom does it benefit?. De Economist, 159, 223-255. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10645-011-9161-x) 9. Bell, N. S., & Narz, M. (2007). Meeting the challenges of age diversity in the workplace. The CPA journal, 77(2), 56. (https://www.proquest.com/openview/c5280f7eb57eddee19b967b72cc0b06a/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=41798) 10. Gross-Gołacka, E., Kupczyk, T., & Wiktorowicz, J. (2022). Towards a Better Workplace Environment—Empirical Measurement to Manage Diversity in the Workplace. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(23), 15851. (https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/23/15851)

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what is a diversity essay

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Writing help, paraphrasing tool, ethiopia’s linguistic tapestry: threads of diversity and identity.

An essay on the languages spoken in Ethiopia delves into the intricate tapestry of linguistic diversity within the nation. It explores the prominence of Amharic as the official language and a unifying force, while also shedding light on the multitude of indigenous languages thriving across various regions. The essay navigates through the significance of languages like Oromiffa, Tigrinya, Somali, Afar, and others, emphasizing their cultural importance and reflecting on their roles within specific communities. It delves into the efforts aimed at preserving these diverse languages, highlighting their value in shaping Ethiopia’s cultural heritage. Ultimately, the essay unveils the rich linguistic landscape of Ethiopia, showcasing how the amalgamation of these languages contributes to the country’s vibrant identity and cultural tapestry. Moreover, at PapersOwl, there are additional free essay samples connected to Identity.

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In the heart of Ethiopia’s vibrant cultural quilt lies a language palette as diverse as its landscape. Amharic, akin to a melodic thread weaving through the nation’s tapestry, stands tall as the official language, uniting Ethiopians under its rhythmic cadence and elegant script.

Venture into the Tigray region, and the Tigrinya language unfurls like an ancient scroll, whispered reverently by those who safeguard its historical legacy. Its significance isn’t just in communication but in the tapestry of cultural pride and ancestral wisdom it encapsulates.

However, Ethiopia’s linguistic stage doesn’t dim in its other acts—Somali, Afar, Sidamo, and a myriad of voices resonate within specific regions, each a living testament to the myriad hues of Ethiopia’s cultural mosaic.

Travel south, and the linguistic kaleidoscope intensifies. The Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region blossom with over 45 indigenous languages, each an ode to its people’s heritage—the lyrical Wolaytta, the poetic Gurage, and the enigmatic Hadiyya.

Preserving this linguistic treasure trove isn’t just an option; it’s a cultural imperative. Initiatives to safeguard these tongues are akin to guardians of ancient wisdom, ensuring that Ethiopia’s diverse identities aren’t just echoes of the past but vibrant threads in the nation’s evolving narrative.

And Ethiopia’s influence extends beyond its borders. Ethiopian communities abroad keep their linguistic flames ablaze, nurturing languages in far-off lands, a testament to the resilience of cultural roots amidst foreign shores.

In Ethiopia’s linguistic chronicle, Amharic shines as a beacon of unity, but it’s the vibrant symphony of indigenous tongues that paints the true portrait of this diverse nation. These languages aren’t just modes of communication; they’re vessels of stories, guardians of legacies, and emissaries of Ethiopia’s unwavering cultural richness. As each dialect whispers its unique tale, Ethiopia’s soul reverberates—a chorus of voices stitching together the vivid tapestry of a nation’s identity.

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The CEO of Hired shares 5 job-market predictions for 2024 and what job seekers need to do to keep up

  • Josh Brenner, the CEO of Hired, expects hiring to accelerate in 2024.
  • He suggests people seeking a new job highlight their specialized skills before being asked.
  • He also says companies should closely consider their DEI and return-to-office plans.

Insider Today

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Josh Brenner , the 38-year-old CEO of Hired based in New York City. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I became the CEO of Hired, a job-search marketplace, in 2020. Before that, my résumé included a blend of product-management and entrepreneurship roles. I've always believed that to grow in your career you must have a curious beginner's mindset, especially when entering new industries.

At the end of a year like 2023, that feels more true than ever. The job market saw a lot of turbulence between endless layoffs and slow growth .

We also saw a lot of companies pulling back on their remote-work promise . People who'd planned their lifestyles around working from home were called back into the office. Some people quit to find new opportunities they could do from their living room but were left with longer search times and fewer available roles.

I believe the job market will be different in 2024. Here are my top five predictions.

1. Hiring will accelerate in 2024

This year was significant for layoffs, but that doesn't mean we won't see any next year. I think companies, especially larger ones, will reignite growth in departments like research and development and sales.

Unlike the hiring booms in 2021 and 2022 , employers will be more selective, targeting individuals who precisely meet their expectations. I've seen a notable increase in hiring requirements for experts proficient in AI and machine learning, often linked to specific geographic locations like NYC or San Francisco.

Companies that handled layoffs poorly will feel the heat when they start trying to hire again. Employees are now communicative about layoffs and how they were handled on platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, and those stories become part of the employer's brand. Job seekers read reviews of companies, and it might prohibit them from applying for positions at places with bad reputations.

In 2024, companies who may have mishandled layoffs last year should be up front and have a playbook for how they'll evolve so they can talk through those plans with candidates who might have hesitations about working there.

2. Companies will prioritize candidates who demonstrate specialized skills

In 2024, we'll continue to see a shift toward highly specialized, in-demand skills like data science, machine learning, and cybersecurity.

It could help those entering the job market early in their career to ensure their skills are specialized and focused. In addition to highlighting skills in a résumé and cover letter, show companies how you use them. Don't wait to take a test during the interview process — be proactive. I recommend taking a skill-assessment test and sharing those results in the application process.

If there are specialized skills that a job asks for and you don't have them, invest time in learning them before applying. Take online courses, learn for free on YouTube, or work as an apprentice for someone willing to teach you. Then demonstrate those skills by working on an example project, freelancing, volunteering on the side, or taking an assessment.

3. Companies might deprioritize diversity and inclusion

Hired noticed this year, when examining open positions, that companies were deprioritizing diversity and inclusion when hiring. We saw this trend especially with chief diversity officers facing reductions during organizational layoffs and remote-work scale-backs.

If companies focus on tightening their budgets in this way, they could be jeopardizing their ability to cultivate inclusive workplaces and limiting their likelihood of bringing on a diverse pool of candidates. More-diverse teams are more successful , so this will be a risk for companies and may create a domino effect that could hurt morale, productivity, and employee retention.

This isn't true for all companies, so if this matters to you as a job seeker, use terms like "DEI," "DEIB," "inclusive," and "equality" to search for specific initiatives from companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion in the hiring process.

4. AI won't replace all jobs, but it will assist with mundane tasks

2024 isn't the time to fear that AI will replace your job entirely. Instead, technology will help take more repetitive tasks off your plate.

People with HR roles who follow up with candidates, schedule interviews, and give feedback can use AI copilots to assist with customized outreach. They can then spend time on the more human-centric aspects of their roles, like fostering meaningful conversations and interactions with candidates.

AI replacing jobs could still be a longer-term risk that may happen over the next several years. Instead of worrying about that now, I encourage job seekers to be curious about new technology and skills. If something interests you and you're not doing it in your current role, invest time learning about that emerging technology or skill.

5. Inflexible return-to-office policies will harm employee retention

If companies want to recruit and retain underrepresented talent, particularly caregivers, lower-income families, and those with disabilities, they might need to adjust their return-to-office policies in 2024.

The myth that remote workers are less committed or productive hinders diversity and belonging. Companies that fail to incorporate commuter perks, flexible schedules, and childcare support into their benefits packages will struggle with attrition and lose out on quality talent.

In the past few years we've seen more job seekers care that a company's mission , values, and vision align with what matters to them. People spend much of their lives at work, so if they end up in the wrong place, it can negatively impact them in many ways.

My advice to job seekers in 2024 is to be considerate of what role you accept. While foundational roles like front-end, back-end, and full-stack development may be gradually displaced amid automation, the emergence of specialized fields fueled by AI acceleration presents new opportunities for job seekers to distinguish themselves.

what is a diversity essay

Watch: Marketing leaders from Amazon, LinkedIn, Lego Group and more tell Insider what pandemic-fueled business changes are likely to stick around

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    A diversity essay is an essay that encourages applicants with disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds, an unusual education, a distinctive experience, or a unique family history to write about how these elements of their background have prepared them to play a useful role in increasing and encouraging diversity among their target program's...

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    A diversity essay is a college admissions essay that focuses on you as an individual and your relationship with a specific community.

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    The Diversity Essay exists because colleges want a student body that includes different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, backgrounds, interests, and so on. The essay asks students to illuminate what sets them apart so that admissions committees can see what kind of diverse views and opinions they can bring to the campus.

  5. How to Write a Diversity Essay that Celebrates Uniqueness

    Diversity refers to the presence and acceptance of a variety of individual differences within a group or community. These differences can encompass aspects such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, abilities, and more.

  6. [QA] What is a diversity essay?

    What is a diversity essay? In addition to your main college essay, some schools and scholarships may ask for a supplementary essay focused on an aspect of your identity or background. This is sometimes called a diversity essay. Frequently asked questions: College admissions essays Which Common App essay prompt should I choose?

  7. How to Write a College Diversity Essay

    A diversity essay is a college admissions essay that focuses on the applicant's background, identity, culture, beliefs, or relationship with a specific community, on what makes an applicant unique, and on how they might bring a fresh perspective or new insights to a school's student body.

  8. Step by Step Guide To Write a Diversity Essay (Examples + Analysis

    A diversity essay is an essay that inspires applicants with minority backgrounds, unique experiences, special education, or bizarre family histories to write about how these factors will contribute to the diversity of their target school's class and community.

  9. How to Write a Diversity Essay: The Complete, Step-by-Step Guide

    A diversity essay is an assignment that tests how you view and analyze vastness in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values and viewpoints. When it comes to writing the essay, do so in a way that proves that you can both embrace and enrich the multicultural environment of the learning institution you intend to join.

  10. How to write an effective diversity statement (essay)

    Here are seven additional suggestions to consider as you write your diversity statement. Tell your story. If you have overcome obstacles to get to where you are, point those out. If, in contrast, you are privileged, acknowledge that. If you grew up walking uphill to school carrying two 20-pound sacks of rice on your back, by all means, tell ...

  11. 3 Diversity Essay Examples For Business School

    What is a Diversity Essay? A diversity essay is often an optional essay that business schools may offer as part of their application process. Students can choose to write these essays if they self-identify as a minority based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or belonging to any other marginalized group.

  12. 6 Diversity College Essay Examples

    What Is the Diversity Essay? While working on your college applications, you may come across essays that focus on diversity, culture, or values. The purpose of these essays is to highlight any diverse views or opinions that you may bring to campus.

  13. Cultural Diversity Essay

    The purpose of the cultural diversity essay in college applications is to show the admissions committee what makes you unique. The cultural diversity essay also lets you describe what type of " diversity " you would bring to campus. We'll also highlight a diversity essay sample for three college applications.

  14. Developing and Writing a Diversity Statement

    What is a diversity statement, and what purpose does it serve? Increasingly, institutions of higher education are becoming more intentional and programmatic about their efforts to embrace principles of inclusion, equity, justice, and diversity throughout campus life.

  15. Diversity Essay ~ Step-By-Step Guide & Examples

    Diversity essay: How to enrich the campus community. Because of your unique background, experiences, and perspectives, you can impact the campus community in various ways. Here are some examples of identities or experiences you can write about in a diversity essay. Belief systems and religion. Family circumstances.

  16. Diversity Statements

    A diversity statement is a polished, narrative statement, typically 1-2 pages in length, that describes one's accomplishments, goals, and process to advance excellence in diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging as a teacher and a researcher in higher education.

  17. Celebrating Our Differences: Inspiring Essays on Diversity and ...

    Introduction. Diversity is a term that describes the differences among people, whether they are cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic, gender, or sexual orientation differences. While diversity is often celebrated, it can also pose challenges, especially in institutions such as schools, workplaces, and governments.

  18. How to Answer the Diversity (and Other Related) Supplemental Essay

    What do colleges mean when referring to diversity—is it only about race? A comprehensive brainstorming exercise to help you generate essay ideas The "How will you contribute based on your background/experiences/identities?" prompt The "social or community issue" prompt The "experience/conversation with someone who is different from you" prompt

  19. Diversity Statement 101: An Essay Guide for Champions

    For all of these students, the Diversity Statement can be a tricky monster. Luckily, the Diversity Statement is still an act of storytelling. And as the timeless lessons of narrative structure teach us, all monsters can be conquered by a champion. This is the key to your Diversity Statement and other personal essays: you must become a champion.

  20. How to Write a Diversity Essay

    How to Write a Good Diversity Essay. Writing a diversity essay is a common requirement for students applying to universities, scholarships, or jobs. This type of essay aims to showcase the applicant's unique qualities, experiences, and perspectives related to their identity and background. However, crafting a good diversity essay can be a ...

  21. 5 Essays About Diversity

    Many see "diversity" as an empty buzzword. It's only empty when it isn't truly engaged with. In basic terms, diversity encompasses traits that make people unique from one another. This includes race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, and more.

  22. 21 Essays About Diversity For Students And Writers

    1. The Definition of Diversity One of the first ways to discuss diversity in an essay is by defining it. Many people consider diversity the mixing of different cultures and people groups into one cohesive group, but is it more? Could it be the attitude of respect and appreciation shown to people in these groups within a community?

  23. ≡Diversity

    Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Within The Workplace. Essay grade: 12/20. 2 pages / 904 words. To discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion this essay will first define these two concepts. Firstly, diversity is a concept that considers the many ways we are alike while respecting the ways we are different.

  24. Ethiopia's Linguistic Tapestry: Threads of Diversity and Identity

    An essay on the languages spoken in Ethiopia delves into the intricate tapestry of linguistic diversity within the nation. It explores the prominence of Amharic as the official language and a unifying force, while also shedding light on the multitude of indigenous languages thriving across various regions.

  25. 2024 Job Market Predictions From Career Marketplace CEO

    3. Companies might deprioritize diversity and inclusion. Hired noticed this year, when examining open positions, that companies were deprioritizing diversity and inclusion when hiring. We saw this ...

  26. Info Lomba 2024 on Instagram: "LOMBA SPEECH, STORY TELLING, ESSAY DAN

    42 likes, 0 comments - informasilomba on January 2, 2024: "LOMBA SPEECH, STORY TELLING, ESSAY DAN NEWS ANCHOR NASIONAL 2024 . . *Exciting News!* ..." Info Lomba 2024 on Instagram: "LOMBA SPEECH, STORY TELLING, ESSAY DAN NEWS ANCHOR NASIONAL 2024 . . 📢 *Exciting News!*📢 🌍 Join us in celebrating linguistic diversity at the 1st Beribahasa ...