How to Write a Diversity Statement Essay for Grad School

Before we proceed with the “diversity essay”, let us first understand the real meaning of the term Diversity. Diversity is what makes each of us unique and includes our backgrounds, personality, life experiences, and beliefs; all of the things that make us who we are. It is a combination of our differences that form our view of the world, our perspective, and our approach. In this post, we will walk you through how to write a diversity statement essay for graduate school.

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What is a Diversity Statement Essay?

A diversity essay speaks of you as an individual and the relationship you hold with a specific community. The purpose is to disclose what makes you different from others, focusing on unique challenges or hurdles you have faced, and your contribution to or learning from a specific community of people.

Not all colleges ask for diversity essays. Again, they are optional at some colleges and if so, we recommend that you write one. Here you will write about your background, values, community, and experiences, mainly what makes you special.

What to Write in a Diversity Statement Essay?

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The diversity college essay is used to encourage diversity in the student body. The limit of this essay is pretty large. Applicants can write about any community or experience. Given below are some examples:

  • Your cultural group
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Extended family
  • Religion
  • Your social and economic background, i.e. The family income
  • Sex or gender
  • Your sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Your values or opinions
  • Your experiences
  • Home country or hometown
  • Your school
  • The area you live in/your neighborhood
  • A club or an organization wherein you are an active member

Diversity essay is not limited to grad school or masters but even undergraduate programs require this essay from applicants. 

Why do Universities ask for Diversity Statment Essays?

Through diversity essays, the admission officers get to know the potential applicant individually. By describing your personal background, you tell your decision to pursue a graduate degree.

Inclusion of educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, community service, outreach activities, residency and citizenship, first-generation college status, or opportunities related to your academic journey; how your life experiences can contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity in a student campus and your selected field.

This essay should not be a duplicate of the Statement of purpose but complement it.

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We not only belong to different communities but also share different geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Therefore choose the community you belong to and describe that community and your place in it.

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We in our individual world are defined by our families and communities. By community we mean your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Narrate the world you come from and how you as an individual of the community can add to the diversity of the college. Colleges aim to create a community of students strongly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values, and viewpoints.

Why does diversity matter at school?

The admission committee believes diversity in the classroom improves the educational experience of all students. With more diverse students found in the classroom, the dorms, the dining halls, and mixed study groups, the discussions will be richer and the team will become more creative. Thus, learning and growing in a multicultural environment will help students work in a multicultural and global world.

Different examples to show your diversity which you can write about: 

  1. The environment you grew up in that taught you to respect your elders, attend family events, and learn your parents’ native language and culture.
  2. Your closeness to grandparents and extended family who have taught you the value of how teamwork can help everyone progress. The difficulties you had to face that arise from your parents’ values in conflict with yours or your peers.
  3. Teachers have failed to understand your culture or lifestyle and how it influenced your performance.
  4. Where you suffered from discrimination and yet got achievement because of your strong values, and character.
  5. The extra skills you learned like performing professionally in theater, dance, music, or sports; or even communicating with a deaf sibling.
  6. You have been a victim of racism or other prejudice; either towards yourself or others and the way you handled it by your tolerant values.

Remember that it is not all about who your parents are but about who you are – from withinNarrate the most notable challenge you have faced and the steps taken by you to overcome this challenge.

The impact this challenge had on your academic achievement.

When we talk about challenges, it could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Mention the reason why the challenge is notable to you.

It is perhaps the best time to talk of the obstacles you have faced and the lesson learned from the experience; also mention whether you had support from someone else or did you handle it all by yourself.

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Recommended Reading: Diversity statements: what to avoid and what to include

Conclusion: Writing Diversity Statement Essay for Grad School

For college admission, a diversity essay looks at applicants’ backgrounds and identities, particularly in the context of a particular community. By community, we mean race or ethnicity, income level, neighborhood, school, gender, sexual orientation, etc. the main aim of the college is to use the diversity essay to continue diversity in their student bodies. For some schools, it is mandatory, whereas others accept it as optional.

It’s okay if you’re not an under-represented minority and/or don’t fall into other categories. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to write about.

For example, you may have an unusual or special experience to share, like taking care of your grandparents, being a member of a dance troupe, or caring for a disabled sibling. These and other distinctive experiences convey how you will bring diversity to the school’s campus.

You could be the first member of your family to apply to college or the first to learn English in your household; you could have worked your way through college or helped raise your siblings.

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

Linda Abraham

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Keep in mind these points while writing a diversity statement essay

  • Think about what makes you unique—point out an experience or opinion that separates you from the rest of the crowd in an interesting, positive way.
  • Be honest and authentic—do not exaggerate or lie about your feelings and experiences. The key to writing a successful diversity essay depends on its authenticity. Schools require an honest essay about yourself and your background. Admissions committees read hundreds of applications every day and can easily spot a fake story.
  • Write clearly, correctly, and convincingly—edit, proofread and get someone else to look over your essay.
  • Take your time—start early, so you can have more time to make changes and get feedback from others.

The Diversity Essay exists because colleges want a student body that has different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, backgrounds, interests, etc. The essay is meant to ask students to clarify what sets them apart from others, so enables admissions committees to see the kind of diverse views and opinions they can bring to the campus

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Jaya Ghosh
A former legal eagle (Advocate), an avid reader, a passionate traveler, and an administrative professional with almost 20 years of experience both in the academic and NGO sectors.
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