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Diversity Statement - Do I need to explicitly say why I am different from other students?

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TomBombadil14

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Here are two diversity prompts -

  1. Describe any unique personal characteristics and obstacles you may have overcome that will contribute to the diversity of, and bring educational benefits to, the entering class. (Iowa)
  2. What makes you a unique individual? What challenges have you faced? How will these factors help you contribute to the diversity of the student body at GW? (GWU)

I plan on talking about how my unique circumstances (poverty/family dysfunction & health) have helped me understand and work with difficult-to-treat populations and other benefits as a physician.

My question - Am I supposed to directly acknowledge that most med students are upper-middle class/generally functional/not poor? The prompts seem to be asking how I will be different/unique within my potential med school class, not how my unique experiences will benefit me as a physician. It feels awkward and presumptuous, especially since I only know that poverty is uncommon for med students from SDN threads. I am hoping essay readers can just make the comparison to other students on their own. At the same time, I want to answer the question they're asking properly.
 

Goro

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For the gazillionth time, the prompt is not about ethnicity or economic status. It's about what makes you cool. What unique thing(s) do you bring the entering class?

If you can't figure that out, you're incapable on introspection and it will handicap you in applications.

di·ver·si·ty
dəˈvərsədē,dīˈvərsədē/
noun
  1. the state of being diverse; variety.
    "there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports"
 

aalamruad

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For the gazillionth time, the prompt is not about ethnicity or economic status. It's about what makes you cool. What unique thing(s) do you bring the entering class?

If you can't figure that out, you're incapable on introspection and it will handicap you in applications.

di·ver·si·ty
dəˈvərsədē,dīˈvərsədē/
noun
  1. the state of being diverse; variety.
    "there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports"
Both of the prompts OP listed ask about how challenges you've faced help you contribute diversity to the class. That's certainly not "about what makes you cool" or about the "unique thing(s) you bring to the entering class." I'm not saying that things that make you cool can't be included instead, since there is a "unique personal characteristics" clause, but it's similarly not incorrect to discuss challenges. Economic struggles can certainly be classified as challenges, which in turn can help you contribute to class diversity. OP hasn't demonstrated that s/he's incapable of introspection, as you rather aggressively concluded.

OP, I'm wondering the same thing. I feel like schools will be able to connect the dots, but I really don't know what's expected. My diversity essays are about my unique perspective of unusual family dynamics, but I'm struggling to decide whether or not I should say anything about other students not having those perspectives. I'm leaning away from that at the moment, just since it might come across as condescending (and unnecessary).
 
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toogoofy

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I think you should describe your situation and what you learned without addressing the richer premeds.

Benjamin Franklin made it his policy to never speak ill of another man and I think we should do the same.
 
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Goro

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What makes you a unique individual?


Both of the prompts OP listed ask about how challenges you've faced help you contribute diversity to the class. That's certainly not "about what makes you cool" or about the "unique thing(s) you bring to the entering class." I'm not saying that things that make you cool can't be included instead, since there is a "unique personal characteristics" clause, but it's similarly not incorrect to discuss challenges. Economic struggles can certainly be classified as challenges, which in turn can help you contribute to class diversity. OP hasn't demonstrated that s/he's incapable of introspection, as you rather aggressively concluded.

OP, I'm wondering the same thing. I feel like schools will be able to connect the dots, but I really don't know what's expected. My diversity essays are about my unique perspective of unusual family dynamics, but I'm struggling to decide whether or not I should say anything about other students not having those perspectives. I'm leaning away from that at the moment, just since it might come across as condescending (and unnecessary).
 

TomBombadil14

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Both of the prompts OP listed ask about how challenges you've faced help you contribute diversity to the class. That's certainly not "about what makes you cool" or about the "unique thing(s) you bring to the entering class." I'm not saying that things that make you cool can't be included instead, since there is a "unique personal characteristics" clause, but it's similarly not incorrect to discuss challenges. Economic struggles can certainly be classified as challenges, which in turn can help you contribute to class diversity. OP hasn't demonstrated that s/he's incapable of introspection, as you rather aggressively concluded.

OP, I'm wondering the same thing. I feel like schools will be able to connect the dots, but I really don't know what's expected. My diversity essays are about my unique perspective of unusual family dynamics, but I'm struggling to decide whether or not I should say anything about other students not having those perspectives. I'm leaning away from that at the moment, just since it might come across as condescending (and unnecessary).


Thank you for your responses and support. I think I will go with my gut and not include a comparative statement, despite the risk of not perfectly answering the "student body" portion of the prompt. It seems... Unbecoming? And also not how I naturally think about my experiences.

In regards to discussing SES/family challenges - I think it is really about the school's specific secondary. If they have separate challenge and diversity prompts, I will probably include another topic for diversity just so I can show a well-rounded picture of myself. Also I think it's perfectly okay to discuss unique family problems/poverty for the diversity essay and a different challenge for the adversity question for the same school, especially if the diversity prompt specifically mentions SES/obstacles (which a majority of mine do).

Good luck with essays! It's been hard for me to be open about personal struggles in my writing, which maybe you've felt as well considering your background and essay topics. I hope your secondaries lead to all the interviews!! :D
 
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TomBombadil14

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I think you should describe your situation and what you learned without addressing the richer premeds.

Benjamin Franklin made it his policy to never speak ill of another man and I think we should do the same.
Thanks, I agree! Making a comparative statement seems unnecessarily judgemental towards the prospective student body.
 
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Iz_FtB

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For these prompts, I usually share formative experiences I had growing up and how they contributed to my perspective as an adult.

On the one hand I can understand the desire of schools to push for diverse student body, but on the other I find the extent to which these prompts are emphasized pretty awkward. A well written personal statement and activities list should be enough to present an individuals personality to adcoms (assuming a personality exists) . As a push back, I usually toss in a line that says something like there is more that makes us similar than makes us different.
 
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gonnif

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For the gazillionth time, the prompt is not about ethnicity or economic status. It's about what makes you cool. What unique thing(s) do you bring the entering class?

If you can't figure that out, you're incapable on introspection and it will handicap you in applications.

di·ver·si·ty
dəˈvərsədē,dīˈvərsədē/
noun
  1. the state of being diverse; variety.
    "there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports"

The more I read these, "dis-verse" it gets
 
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TomBombadil14

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I'm OK with those, but OP, you and it seems every other newbie on SDN are ignoring this part.
Like I said later on, I am usually putting a completely different topic if the school's secondary asks for separate challenge and diversity essays OR if they do not mention "obstacle" or "SES" related terms in their diversity prompt. Otherwise, I'm also trying to find ways to connect unique/nonSES related activities/passions into the responses.
 
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