Diversity statements
<div>Williams, the Harvard law student, says she deliberately began her essay with a matter-of-fact statement that starkly laid out the difficult circumstances she faced during high school. The goal, Williams says, was to immediately make it clear to admissions officers what her situation was and what her essay would discuss. "It was very important for my entire essay to tell a story," Williams says.</div>
<div>Williams says that, in this paragraph, she wanted to show admissions officers that she could maintain a positive attitude in a difficult situation. She says it was important to her to say that there was happiness in her childhood and that she was grateful to the community she came from, even though her family struggled financially.</div>
<div>Shinners, the expert from Manhattan Prep, says that this description of how Williams felt when she arrived at college, what she was thinking at the time and the objects she brought with her to campus is a good example of how small details can make a diversity statement feel more personal and real. Describing the objects she had with her was a particularly good move, Shinners says, because someone else is unlikely to have had those exact same belongings with them when they started college.</div>
<div>Williams says she wanted admissions officers to understand that she was working full time during college so that they put her grade point average in context, because her grades were not as high as she wanted.</div>
<div>Shinners says that this paragraph's introductory sentence isn't necessary, because Williams' persistence and drive is obvious based on what she has already written.</div>
<div>Shinners says that the description of Williams' leadership at Food4Thought is the most impressive aspect of the essay, because it shows how she channeled her adversity into a creative activity that helped her community.</div>
<div>Williams says that she deliberately chose to end her essay by talking about her family and the example she hopes to set for her siblings. Since she started her essay by talking about where she came from, she also wanted to end by discussing her personal roots.</div>
<div>Shinners says he likes that Williams mentions her family at the end of her essay but that the last two sentences where she talks about contributing to a law school's egalitarian mission are generic and could have been written by many disadvantaged J.D. candidates. Shinners says Williams could either have removed those two sentences, or she could have replaced them with some details about her personal experience.</div>
<div>Baker, the California Western School of Law student, says applicants should seriously consider writing a diversity statement. "I think a lot of people see 'diversity' as being racial or gender-oriented," she said via email. "Diversity can be anything and can show a potential law school what an applicant can bring to contribute to the school."</div>
<div>Fugate, the California Western School of Law admissions official, says J.D. applicants who are unsure about whether they should write a diversity statement should read the essay prompt carefully to determine whether they have something thoughtful to say. If they have any doubts about whether their essay idea fits the prompt or whether their life circumstances qualify them to write a diversity statement, Fugate suggests they contact the school's admissions office to inquire about the kind of information the admissions committee wants to see. </div>
<div>Fugate says it is a mistake for law school applicants to include an optional diversity statement if it repeats topics covered in their personal statement, because each component of a law school application is valuable "real estate" that needs to be used wisely. She says that some J.D. applicants from an underrepresented background might want to discuss it in their personal statement, whereas others may prefer to discuss that topic in a separate diversity statement.</div>
<div>Fugate says she was moved by the way Baker wrote about her birth mother, showing compassion for the woman's situation and respect for her choice. Fugate says she also appreciated the level of commitment and devotion Baker conveyed for her adoptive parents.</div>
<div>Baker says writing about her birth mother was a struggle. "The most difficult part about being adopted as of right now, is knowing that there is another mother out there who may be thinking of me and what she had to go through to give me up to lead a better life," Baker said.</div>
<div>Baker says she wanted to convey her appreciation for having been adopted. "I wanted to show that even though I do feel there are 'nature v. nurture' differences between me and my adopted parents, that I am grateful for the journey that I have taken to get to where I am and that I wouldn’t have changed anything about it," she said. "Toward the end of my essay I wanted to relate how me being adopted would make me a good lawyer, and I wanted to show the law school that I would be a good asset to the community."</div>
<div>Fugate says she didn't even notice the scrambled words in the third-to-last sentence in this diversity statement, and that even if she had, it would not have changed her strong positive impression of the applicant.</div>
<div>Shinners says J.D. applicants should avoid using over-the-top language in their diversity statement, so he would have replaced the word "limitless" with more down-to-earth language.</div>
<div>Shinners says this short paragraph that gives information about Williams' leadership titles and accomplishments isn't crucial to the essay because this information is likely on her resume. However, Shinners says the last sentence of this paragraph is a good one, because it fits into the theme of the essay, which is finding a sense of belonging and community despite adversity.</div>
<div>Williams says it was very important to her to state that she would never use her disadvantaged upbringing as an excuse for failure. </div><div><br></div><div>“In society at large, people tend to think that because an individual is coming from a disadvantaged background, they want to use that as a crutch or even an excuse for not being able to persist,” she says.</div><div><br></div><div>Williams says she wanted to combat any preconceived notions a reader might have about someone in her situation. </div><div><br></div><div>"I wasn’t using the disadvantage addendum for sympathy or even empathy,” Williams says. “I just wanted to contextualize my experiences, but I did not want to use them as a crutch or a reason why I was not able to succeed."</div>
<div>Williams says she mentioned various leadership roles in this paragraph because she had not had an opportunity to mention those positions in her personal statement. She wanted to highlight them in a way that admissions officers would notice.</div>

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