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Diversity - The fear of Goro in me

Welshman

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      I wrote my diversity essay awhile back and I thought it was relatively good, but after reading some of @Goro 's recent advice, e.g. "if you write that you'll get rejected." I panicked and wrote a new one.

      At first, what I wrote was basically a survey of my unique upbringing and work experiences, ie living in midwest, Florida, northeast and now the UK, working various blue collar jobs and white collar jobs and some challenging family experiences. The take away being that I this diverse range of experiences has given me a global perspective, the ability to relate to a wide range of people and a unique to approach problems that I want to bring to and expand upon in med school.

      The second, I went specific. I wrote about how from a young age my dad was obsessed with the benefits of dietary fiber, how this rubbed off on me influencing my senior thesis, my interest in preventative medicine and ultimately my dad sister and I started a company in the UK focusing on preventative nutrition (my gap year job). The take away is that this is a unique interest to share and build on in med school.

      I tried to follow the advice I've found here and write about a specific thing that my friends would use to describe me or that makes me cool. idk if fiber is cool but I hope it's unique.

      Which do you guys think is best? or will goro reject me?
       
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      LizzyM

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        The irony is that Goro's school doesn't even have a diversity question.

        I think I'd like to have you in my problem based learning group. To me, that is a measure of "diversity"... "would you be a good addition to our group of 7 students?"
         
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        CUatthefinishline

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          I'm just a lowly applicant, but I dig both. They are each unique and character building experiences. That being said, I think being as specific as possible (given word limits) is always good because the things specific to you are what make you "diverse".
           
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          Goro

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            The irony is that Goro's school doesn't even have a diversity question.

            I think I'd like to have you in my problem based learning group. To me, that is a measure of "diversity"... "would you be a good addition to our group of 7 students?"
            The divine Miss M just made me bellow out loud with laughter. Good thing I wasn't drinking anything!
             
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            Lawpy

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              The irony is that Goro's school doesn't even have a diversity question.

              I think I'd like to have you in my problem based learning group. To me, that is a measure of "diversity"... "would you be a good addition to our group of 7 students?"

              Out of curiosity, how would you define diversity? Does diversity mean having a diverse range of experiences or does it mean what makes someone unique/interesting/cool/memorable for a small class of students? Or both?
               

              djtallahassee

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                Lol with the no diversity school irony and the title, this is a funny thread.

                Can you fit both in it? To me I don't care you dad was obsessed but care more that you started a business in the U.K. I would read that and your other living areas and think you are interesting...but I'm not an adcom lol


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                LizzyM

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                  Out of curiosity, how would you define diversity? Does diversity mean having a diverse range of experiences or does it mean what makes someone unique/interesting/cool/memorable for a small class of students? Or both?

                  I want a diversity of life experience, knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes. I consider one's race and ethnicity as having a bearing on life experience so there's that. Also age and experience brought to the table by non-traditional students who have had a career prior to medical school (teachers, health educators, etc). A variety of undergrad majors brings a variety of perspectives to the table. A familiarity with customs and culture unfamiliar to the rest of us can bring something meaningful to discussions. (As an aside, during a PBL, one of my students gave a bit of insight into the etiquette handling of knives in Russian culture).
                   
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                  Goro

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                    I want a diversity of life experience, knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes. I consider one's race and ethnicity as having a bearing on life experience so there's that. Also age and experience brought to the table by non-traditional students who have had a career prior to medical school (teachers, health educators, etc). A variety of undergrad majors brings a variety of perspectives to the table. A familiarity with customs and culture unfamiliar to the rest of us can bring something meaningful to discussions. (As an aside, during a PBL, one of my students gave a bit of insight into the etiquette handling of knives in Russian culture).
                    And based upon an actual SDN post, taking a European vacation and seeing diverse cultures does NOT fulfill any of the above criteria!!!
                    Nor does having black friends in high school.
                     
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                    LizzyM

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                      And based upon an actual SDN post, taking a European vacation and seeing diverse cultures does NOT fulfill any of the above criteria!!!
                      Nor does having black friends in high school.

                      I feel as if one does not have an insight into a culture until one has had a lived experience of birth and marriage celebrations and funeral rituals within that culture. And recognize that there are multiple subcultures in the US with its own customs. Generally a vacation is not enough time to immerse one's self in the daily life of the people of a region. You might get that in a home-stay of 9 months or more.
                       
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                      CrunchyPeanutButter

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                        And based upon an actual SDN post, taking a European vacation and seeing diverse cultures does NOT fulfill any of the above criteria!!!
                        Nor does having black friends in high school.

                        What about growing up in England, and moving to the USA at 16?


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                        Welshman

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                          I've loved everyone's comments and advice. But just to bring everything back home, I gather that going with a broad survey of experiences would be the best course of action as it best shows a diversity/experience with/openness to a range of life experience, knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes. While an in-depth story does flesh out a unique attribute it's still narrow in scope and doesn't leverage the full extent of one's diversity.
                           

                          Goro

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                            What about growing up in England, and moving to the USA at 16?


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                            The immigrant experience is always appreciated, but given the similarities between the English and Americans, especially given that there's no language barrier, my gut tells me that this isn't as big as an advantage. But still worth mentioning.
                             
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                            CrunchyPeanutButter

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                              The immigrant experience is always appreciated, but given the similarities between the English and Americans, especially given that there's no language barrier, my gut tells me that this isn't as big as an advantage. But still worth mentioning.

                              I do agree.
                              I do think we are very similar and I'm sure it was a lot easier for me to adjust compared to other immigrants!

                              However, it's not such an easy adjustment as one would think.
                              I would word things differently and spell things differently (I had a teacher literally hand me back a paper full with red marks because of things such as "colour" or "realise" and I was told I need to become more American).
                              I didn't know a lot about popular culture in the USA, and I had no idea about sports other than "soccer" lol.

                              Also, the school I attended in England during my early education was very poor and quality of educarion was lacking. I also think leaving my whole family behind is and has continued to be the hardest part.

                              These are all points I plan to talk about, would you say they are valid?

                              But I absolutley agree, that we are very similar.

                              Thank you.



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                              CrunchyPeanutButter

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                                I would think that falls under more than 9 months with a homestay. A good experience if you have a good take away from it.

                                My take away would is I am a first generation immigrant and assimilating into a new culture!
                                Lots more etc..!

                                Awesome, thanks for the reply, and sorry to partially steal your thread lol.



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                                LizzyM

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                                  The immigrant experience is always appreciated, but given the similarities between the English and Americans, especially given that there's no language barrier, my gut tells me that this isn't as big as an advantage. But still worth mentioning.

                                  Sometimes the lack of a language barrier is exactly what gets us into trouble when we assume that people who look and speak like us are like us in every way.

                                  What is the protocol for attending a wake or a funeral or visiting a family sitting shiva? What is a typical or average wedding gift if you are attending the wedding of a nephew or cousin? What should you expect in the way of refreshments at a wedding reception? Is it appropriate to give a baby gift or have a baby shower before the baby is born? This can be very different even within a specific geographic region depending on religion and ethnicity.
                                   
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                                  cactusman

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                                    It is so hypocritical of most schools that preach all this diversity and then want to target certain minorities for admission. Often these minorities don't have the financial resources to achieve a high level of diversity of experiences and skills. Those with backgrounds involving poverty aren't likely to have lots of experience in a variety of the things that wealthier applicants have been able to do.
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                                    LizzyM

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                                      It is so hypocritical of most schools that preach all this diversity and then want to target certain minorities for admission. Often these minorities don't have the financial resources to achieve a high level of diversity of experiences and skills. Those with backgrounds involving poverty aren't likely to have lots of experience in a variety of the things that wealthier applicants have been able to do.


                                      :confused: You have missed the point entirely!
                                       
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                                      DaWeasel

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                                        I've loved everyone's comments and advice. But just to bring everything back home, I gather that going with a broad survey of experiences would be the best course of action as it best shows a diversity/experience with/openness to a range of life experience, knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes. While an in-depth story does flesh out a unique attribute it's still narrow in scope and doesn't leverage the full extent of one's diversity.

                                        I think there's a distinction between how you, the applicant, are diverse and how you can make the school diverse. Medical school classes are full of the most talented students in the country, you aren't going to be special in multiple ways. I've found it easier to focus on the specific aspects in which I can contribute to the diversity of a class, and this was effectively done by telling a story.
                                         
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                                        Upstage

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                                          The immigrant experience is always appreciated, but given the similarities between the English and Americans, especially given that there's no language barrier, my gut tells me that this isn't as big as an advantage. But still worth mentioning.

                                          How about spending your summers growing up visiting your family in south America(i'm first gen) and moving to france for a year, and traveling Europe? @Goro


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                                          cactusman

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                                            All things a child raised in poverty will never have the opportunity to do. It is silly to justify allowing one applicant into medical school over another because of travel.
                                            I think I was confused by your first post. It sounded like you were arguing against the recruitment of (often poor) minority students and otherwise disadvantaged students since most wealthy people would have been exposed to more diversity and be more qualified.

                                            Now it sounds like you were actually criticizing the unfair advantage this gives to wealthy applicants. Wealthy applicants get a lot of unfair advantages, but I don't think this is one of them. Most students will only see diversity abroad in a tourist context, or in a study abroad program which likely isolates them somewhat from the actual community and culture; adcoms know this and won't be particularly impressed. On the other hand, students from backgrounds which are underrepresented in medicine often have a more interesting answer. They actually bring a rarer perspective to a med school class, which will consist largely of upper and upper-middle class students who may have seen Europe, but are not necessarily knowledgeable about a big chunk of the patient population.
                                             
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                                            LizzyM

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                                              Yes, wealthier students have the advantage in regards to diversity of experiences. Even mission trips, those are expensive. I sincerely want to do one (and for the right reasons), even now and I'm not applying to medical school, but can't afford it.

                                              Go read Hillbilly Elegy and come back when you've finished. There are domestic (vs. international) experiences that may be unknown to most students but familiar to someone who grew up in poverty. Students who have had those experiences bring something to the class that would be otherwise lacking.
                                               
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                                              SuaveCardigans

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                                                Go read Hillbilly Elegy and come back when you've finished. There are domestic (vs. international) experiences that may be unknown to most students but familiar to someone who grew up in poverty. Students who have had those experiences bring something to the class that would be otherwise lacking.
                                                Met JD Vance once irl through a friend of a friend. My whole family is from rural east Tenn, so we talked about the shared experiences. Hes a cool guy.
                                                 
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                                                SuaveCardigans

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                                                  I don't need to read a book or be educated about poverty. I have lived poverty, perhaps you have not (maybe you have), I could write a book about it. Are you one of the hypocrites from a wealthy background who pretends to know everything about poverty? I am fully aware of the limitations that it places on people, regardless of race. Want to travel? Too expensive. Want to play piano? Too expensive. Want to play sports? Gas costs to much to make an extra trip and that 2nd job makes it difficult to pick you up, not to mention all the associated fees. Want a private tutor for the SAT? Not going to happen. Want to play high school sports? Kinda difficult when you work to help pay for household expenses while others are learning how to play the violin. Could go on and on and on.

                                                  I'm not sure what the point of your post was.
                                                  Point is that your background is underrepresented in the applicant pool, and your perspective is valuable.

                                                  There is no need for name calling
                                                   
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                                                  LizzyM

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                                                    I don't need to read a book or be educated about poverty. I have lived poverty, perhaps you have not (maybe you have), I could write a book about it. Are you one of the hypocrites from a wealthy background who pretends to know everything about poverty? I am fully aware of the limitations that it places on people, regardless of race. Want to travel? Too expensive. Want to play piano? Too expensive. Want to play sports? Gas costs to much to make an extra trip and that 2nd job makes it difficult to pick you up, not to mention all the associated fees. Want a private tutor for the SAT? Not going to happen. Want to play high school sports? Kinda difficult when you work to help pay for household expenses while others are learning how to play the violin. Could go on and on and on.

                                                    I'm not sure what the point of your post was.

                                                    You seem to miss the point that people in poverty have a life experience that is different than the typical medical school matriculant and representation of that life experience is of value in a medical school class.

                                                    Some schools do value the diversity that includes socio-economic diversity, geographic diversity, etc. Other schools, maybe not so much.

                                                    An applicant who has to work should put that work experience in the experience section. And they should list jobs even if they aren't related to medicine. Tell me you worked 20 hours a week at Walmart or Taco Bell and that will put your "only" 1 hour/wk of volunteering in perspective. An applicant who grew up in poverty should not be too proud to check the "disadvantaged" box and provide the requisite explanation.

                                                    I don't want to reveal too much about my own circumstances. I did not grow up in poverty but my neighbors did, particularly when the factory workers were on strike. In the present day, I make visits to the homes of people living in poverty or in difficult circumstances and I hear their stories and try to provide assistance through the generosity of my faith community. The chasm between rich and poor in America is not lost on me.
                                                     
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                                                    Goro

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                                                      How about spending your summers growing up visiting your family in south America(i'm first gen) and moving to france for a year, and traveling Europe? @Goro


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                                                      Needs to be done in a way that doesn't reek of privilege.
                                                       
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                                                      Goro

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                                                        I hope medical schools have the ability to seek out applicants who don't have all these fancy experiences and histories due to circumstances beyond their control, such as poverty. Maybe the student who had to work to support his family with 100 volunteer hours gets the same consideration as the rich kid who doesn't hold a job and has 1500 hours.
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                                                        SuaveCardigans

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                                                          I hope medical schools have the ability to seek out applicants who don't have all these fancy experiences and histories due to circumstances beyond their control, such as poverty. Maybe the student who had to work to support his family with 100 volunteer hours gets the same consideration as the rich kid who doesn't hold a job and has 1500 hours.
                                                          Love the smack of that banhammer!

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                                                          Jaigantic

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                                                            And based upon an actual SDN post, taking a European vacation and seeing diverse cultures does NOT fulfill any of the above criteria!!!
                                                            Nor does having black friends in high school.
                                                            How does spending a significant amount of time (~6 months) in a foreign country and undergoing culture shock but overcoming it by immersing oneself completely in the culture play into those criteria? or does that qualify as taking a vacation and seeing diverse cultures?
                                                             

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                                                              How does spending a significant amount of time (~6 months) in a foreign country and undergoing culture shock but overcoming it by immersing oneself completely in the culture play into those criteria? or does that qualify as taking a vacation and seeing diverse cultures?
                                                              I think it does. My learned colleague LizzyM referred to this in an earlier post.
                                                               

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                                                                I think it does. My learned colleague LizzyM referred to this in an earlier post.
                                                                I feel as if one does not have an insight into a culture until one has had a lived experience of birth and marriage celebrations and funeral rituals within that culture. And recognize that there are multiple subcultures in the US with its own customs. Generally a vacation is not enough time to immerse one's self in the daily life of the people of a region. You might get that in a home-stay of 9 months or more.

                                                                Sorry, you think it does what? Fit the criteria? Or act as a not so significant "vacation". While I didn't spend over 9 months here, I did participate in cultural rituals such as weddings, religious celebrations, parties, etc.

                                                                I just wanna know you guys' opinions bc this is the diversity essay I have been using (but I didn't go into detail about the actual activities I participated in, like the weddings and such). As this trip was one that I had intended to be much shorter, I focused more on how I overcame culture shock, learned to be adaptable, found something meaningful in the midst of a difficult time, and had a greater appreciation for the variability of cultures and lifestyles after finding out that I would have to stay in this country for a much longer time.
                                                                 

                                                                Goro

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                                                                  Sorry, you think it does what? Fit the criteria? Or act as a not so significant "vacation". While I didn't spend over 9 months here, I did participate in cultural rituals such as weddings, religious celebrations, parties, etc.

                                                                  I just wanna know you guys' opinions bc this is the diversity essay I have been using (but I didn't go into detail about the actual activities I participated in, like the weddings and such). As this trip was one that I had intended to be much shorter, I focused more on how I overcame culture shock, learned to be adaptable, found something meaningful in the midst of a difficult time, and had a greater appreciation for the variability of cultures and lifestyles after finding out that I would have to stay in this country for a much longer time.
                                                                  LizzyM was referring to my post about people who vacation and try to claim a diversity experience from that. Your six months is no mere vacation
                                                                   
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                                                                  7331poas

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                                                                    I want a diversity of life experience, knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes. I consider one's race and ethnicity as having a bearing on life experience so there's that. Also age and experience brought to the table by non-traditional students who have had a career prior to medical school (teachers, health educators, etc). A variety of undergrad majors brings a variety of perspectives to the table. A familiarity with customs and culture unfamiliar to the rest of us can bring something meaningful to discussions. (As an aside, during a PBL, one of my students gave a bit of insight into the etiquette handling of knives in Russian culture).
                                                                    As far as race. Does that need to be explicitly stated? I am urm, but I generally don't explicitly state this in diversity essays because it seems in bad taste whenever I write about it. Almost too...overt?
                                                                     
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                                                                    LizzyM

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                                                                      As far as race. Does that need to be explicitly stated? I am urm, but I generally don't explicitly state this in diversity essays because it seems in bad taste whenever I write about it. Almost too...overt?
                                                                      You check the box, right? So it is already "out there". Some other things, aren't quite as overt. I really don't care about the diversity essay. My school has something short and I generally don't even bother looking at it.
                                                                       
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                                                                      7331poas

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                                                                        You check the box, right? So it is already "out there". Some other things, aren't quite as overt. I really don't care about the diversity essay. My school has something short and I generally don't even bother looking at it.

                                                                        Yea thats how I look at it. I already specified that I am URM. I shouldn't necessarily need to specify or touch on it in a prompt.

                                                                        However your "short thing" is only for places like Stanford, but for Harvard a diversity topic is the only essay.

                                                                        Regardless, im just getting neurotic this early in the cycle.
                                                                         

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                                                                          In regard to one of Goro's earlier comment, would it be bad to comment on growing up in an ethnically diverse community? One of the points I raised in my diversity essay was that I was able to learn how different cultural backgrounds could dramatically shape viewpoints, even on issues that I thought were not up for debate (ex: duty of children to parents).

                                                                          I am an ORM and not sure whether commenting on my cultural background alone would really convey diversity, lol.
                                                                           

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                                                                            In regard to one of Goro's earlier comment, would it be bad to comment on growing up in an ethnically diverse community? One of the points I raised in my diversity essay was that I was able to learn how different cultural backgrounds could dramatically shape viewpoints, even on issues that I thought were not up for debate (ex: duty of children to parents).

                                                                            I am an ORM and not sure whether commenting on my cultural background alone would really convey diversity, lol.
                                                                            Could be OK.
                                                                             

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                                                                              So it seems like the consensus is that study abroad is okay as long as it involves actually making connections with locals/learning the language? What about international travel with a service/educational bent?

                                                                              I don't know why I'm asking since I've already submitted like 75% of my secondaries.

                                                                              Study abroad is fine as a way to take academic classes on a different campus than your own but if you are going to claim to know another culture because you spent 15 weeks in Madrid (or Paris, or Rome or London, etc), including 12 weekends traveling all over Europe, you need to rethink using it to claim you bring "diversity" to the table.


                                                                              If you lived abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer etc, it is likely that you had a more immersive experience that put you in a situation of really living the local culture.
                                                                               
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                                                                              LizzyM

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                                                                                I get that you're being illustrative by using the most extreme examples (spending lavish weekends in extremely touristy western European countries vs. spending a year in a developing nation with the Peace Corps), but I fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Can I assume from your answer that study abroad and service/educational trips in places that aren't so stereotypically touristy is at least not as damning as your examples? Or should I withdraw all of my applications?

                                                                                Traveling as a student in Europe is not necessarily "lavish" (trains, hostels) and there is nothing "damning" about it... it is just not something that provides a a student with an experience of how people in a different culture actually live and their values/sensibilities.

                                                                                If you want to claim that your life experience will bring an otherwise unrepresented viewpoint to your medical school class then go for it. Do your best to justify why you believe that to be true.
                                                                                 
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                                                                                calivianya

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                                                                                  I'm so glad this thread is here - it's made me think of something I didn't realize before.

                                                                                  I have an unusual upbringing situation as far as money goes. The AMCAS application asked me what income bracket I was in for the majority of my childhood. We were in the 200-250k bracket, so that's what I put... but we were only there until I was 11 and my 58 year old father got laid off, made a crapton of stupid investments trying to make money, tried to start several failed companies, and lost one of our houses in the process. All the money disappeared within the first few years. Like stupid rich people, they never paid off their house because any tax deduction helps at that income bracket and you can deduct mortgage interest, so we almost lost our primary home, too. My mother had to get a job making ends meet working for Dillard's for $9/hr, and my father... well... even McDonald's and Walmart don't like hiring people in their 50s to be cashiers.

                                                                                  So yes, the majority of my childhood, I was rich... but the other half, I was in a family of 3 within spitting distance of the poverty line living on a stupid small budget still paying a decent sized house's mortgage. My dad had to move a thousand miles away, literally, to finally get a part time job - his brother pulled some strings to even get him that. Should I mention that somewhere, and where should I mention that if I do? I've had things I've considered way more personally significant to write about for diversity and challenge essays.
                                                                                   
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