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Diverse applicant looking for help with diversity essay

Maybedoc1

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Dec 28, 2017
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Hello all,

I'm pre-Writing secondaries and I've been a little stuck on the diversity essay. I'm a pretty unique applicant so I have a lot I could write about, but I'm wondering what to focus on. Here are some things that I've thought of.

1) Both of my parents had serious medical issues come up within a few months of each other when I was thirteen. My mom had two major strokes during a brain aneurysm surgery and my dad had a whole host of medical/psychiatric issues stemming from his childhood/time in the military (his story is more complicated). They are both still disabled 13 years later. I talked about this in my PS, but I think this might work better for my adversity rather than diversity essay. In fact, I don't know what else I would talk about in an adversity essay since everything else would seem rather trivial compared with this.

2) I was a music major in college. I talked about this in my primary a fair amount already. It was in my PS and music was one of my most meaningful activities. I feel like I've talked too much about music on my app, so I don't think this one is a great idea even though it does separate me from most applicants.

3) I'm half black and I grew up in one of the whitest states in the country. At first, I didn't think I had anything that profound to say about my experience. I didn't grow up in the inner city or anything like that, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to take a racial angle with this question. I may have changed my mind though. I'm wondering if I could talk about my experience growing up as one of the few people of color in my classes? I was simultaneously the "token black friend" while also being "not black enough" due to the way I naturally act/my lighter skin tone. When I was younger I tried to "show my blackness" by subconsciously conforming to societal expectations of what "being a black male" means (being good at sports rather than school for example). As I got older I rejected this idea and began to excel in high school/college. I could talk about how I hope to use my experience to motivate other people of color to reach their full potential when that's not always encouraged? Or something like that.

I'm wondering if #3 would work? I guess it runs the risk of being slightly offensive, but also true in a sense.
 
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Rising_Sagicorn

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I think there is a way to combine 2 and 3 especially as you mentioned there are certain things that tend to be attributed to certain races! 3 alone can easily turn into a "woe is me" but added to the music piece, i could see how you have used your background to elevate Black individuals in typically white spaces. I also agree with 1 as a adversity essay; as long as you keep it focused on how you felt and coped, it could be really strong!
 
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Maybedoc1

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Dec 28, 2017
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I think there is a way to combine 2 and 3 especially as you mentioned there are certain things that tend to be attributed to certain races! 3 alone can easily turn into a "woe is me" but added to the music piece, i could see how you have used your background to elevate Black individuals in typically white spaces. I also agree with 1 as a adversity essay; as long as you keep it focused on how you felt and coped, it could be really strong!

I like the idea of combining things, however I barely have enough room to expand on one subject as it is! It's just hard to talk about things in depth when you only have 250 words. I think I could do #3 without making it sound like a pity party
 
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Maybedoc1

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I think that #3 is exactly what the adcom might be looking for as a response to this prompt.

Thank you for replying! I initially was going to use this prompt for Dartmouth's "describe a time when you were an other" prompt, but then figured it could work for general diversity if done correctly. Glad to hear that you agree.

Im guessing adcoms can kind of "fill in the blanks" with these essays? Sometimes I feel like its hard to answer the question super directly given the word limits and my desire to write well. For example: if a secondary asks "how would you contribute to the diversity of XSOM" and you write an essay (really a paragraph or two) about growing up biracial black in a homogeneous white state, how you felt the need to act a certain way because of societal expectations, then you rejected that and want to inspire other people of color to reach their full potential, you're not really explicitly saying HERE ARE 5 WAYS I WILL CONTRIBUTE DIVERSITY TO YOUR SCHOOL, but you are implying a lot with your life experience that you chose to share. Is that fine? It's just hard to expand on significant life experiences when you only have a paragraph or two to do it.
 
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LizzyM

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Just a word of advice, I would not post your PS on an open forum...
If you want feedback there are plenty of SDN resources that can help you

Good point. @Maybedoc1 should click Edit at the bottom of his page and delete his essay. I agree that it is good and that he should use it but he threatens his anonymity on this forum by posting that here.
 
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Maybedoc1

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Good point. @Maybedoc1 should click Edit at the bottom of his page and delete his essay. I agree that it is good and that he should use it but he threatens his anonymity on this forum by posting that here.

I didn't even think of that, but thanks for the reminder. It sounds like you were able to read what I had before I removed it and it sounds like it works! Thanks for your help
 
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Maybedoc1

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Is there any way you could combine all 3? Maybe in a narrative format?

Unfortunately with the word limits I think that would be hard to do. Some schools give me 150 words (!) to explain a great life challenge or how I'll contribute to the diversity of their school. It's hard to fit enough in with a limit like that.
 
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