How to Show Diversity in the College Application
There are several components of the college application where you can show diversity. Here are some to take under consideration.
Many colleges use the Common Application so this is your first opportunity to make the admissions office aware of your minority status. The Demographics section has a box you can tick to state your race and origin.
A second, more in-depth chance at discussing your diversity is presented with the personal statement portion of the Common Application. The 5th option offered as an essay topic in this year’s Common Application is, “Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.” 1 Colleges actively seek students who will bring a wide variety of experiences and beliefs to share with their peers and you can use this part of the application process to showcase how your diverse background would make you a positive addition to the student body. If not this essay topic, the other alternatives also allow for students to show diverse experiences and backgrounds. Whether you are from a family of Holocaust survivors or you grew up in an Asian community, you have unique experiences that will be a valuable addition to any college campus. Use these to show your core value and differentiation.
Many colleges request a supplemental application that includes additional essays. Here is another chance to stand out and be noticed. When writing your essay, be up front about how you might be different from other students. Race and ethnicity are important if they have permeated your experiences in some way. If your experiences include having had to fight against discrimination, this also is valuable to college communities as you will provide an excellent example to your peers regarding acceptance and collaboration in multicultural environments.
Many students send résumés with their college applications to give the admissions office a complete picture of who they are. If you have been involved in your community in anyway, be sure to list your involvements in your résumé. Perhaps you have worked at a Jewish summer camp, or volunteered in your church, or mentored younger children from your community. These types of activities demonstrate your commitment to your cultural heritage, and enhance your résumé.
One pitfall to avoid in both your personal statement and your résumé is to assume that just being a minority is a shoe-in to college. Use these opportunities to explain how your ethnic heritage has affected your life and made you special. The Accepted to College website reminds us that, “Colleges are savvy and aren’t interested simply in what you are, but what you have done. Show them how your own personal diversity has played a part in your life, and how the experiences you’ve gained because of your minority status will be valuable to the college.” 2
As an African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, first generation American, etc., you have a wealth of unique experiences and beliefs that you can share with the Caucasian majority on campus, enriching their lives and expanding their horizons. You are an asset to any school, but you must articulate this in your college application. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to show your genuine self, and know that the schools that accept you will appreciate your diversity and help you embrace it on campus.
1 The Common Application for Undergraduate College Admissions. Commonapp.org (9/08/11)
2 Expressing Diversity in the Personal Statement. Accepted to College.com (9/08/11)