Diversity Statement for non-URM

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Diversity Statement for non-URM

Postby oliver_h » Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:27 am

I am a non-URM but am applying to UPenn which requires a one-page additional essay on one of the following questions (paraphrased):

1. What about your experiences or background will make UPenn more diverse?
2. What piece of art or literature most inspired you to go to law school?
3. What about Penn will help you accomplish your 5 year plan after law school?

For various reasons I don't want to answer questions 2 or 3, which leaves question 1. Although I'm a white male, I spent time growing up in Indonesia and Cambodia, was an exchange student in India, took a gap-year prior to college to volunteer in Mexico, was a left-wing activist in college, and served 4 years as an Army Officer, so I have some "diverse" experiences I could write about.

My questions for the forum are:

1. Is it insulting/inappropriate/risky to call myself "diverse" because of such experiences?
2. Am I better off just making something up for one of the other questions?
3. If it is not insulting/inappropriate and I can write a good essay for UPenn, does it make sense to submit that essay as a "diversity statement" for other law schools (Yale, Harvard, Chicago, etc.)?


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Re: Diversity Statement for non-URM

Postby pkrtbx » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:01 pm

oliver_h wrote:1. Is it insulting/inappropriate/risky to call myself "diverse" because of such experiences?

I don't think it is necessarily insulting or inappropriate (although it definitely could be), but I think it is pretty risky to focus on the abroad stuff. Since so many young, affluent people are studying/volunteering abroad these days and often have an overblown sense of the significance of this, you would be running the risk of getting pigeonholed into that stereotype. I would think that your military experience probably contributes more to your diversity anyway, and TBH will probably impress reviewers more than the experience abroad.

oliver_h wrote:2. Am I better off just making something up for one of the other questions?

Making something up runs the risk of coming off as forced and inauthentic, I would think that you could write about your your military experience much more convincingly.

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Re: Diversity Statement for non-URM

Postby Helicio » Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:24 pm

Why would it be stupid?

Diversity should be about much more than the amount of melanin in your skin. At my UG we have different races but almost all of the races are from the same socioeconomic level and there feels to be less diversity than there was at my pretty much all-white high school.

Diversity is about way more than the color of your skin. Yes, the majority of Americans are white, so being non-white will automatically increase diversity; but experiences count for diversity as well.

So the short answer is that of course you can write on the first topic. However, I think you would do well to focus on your Army experience as much as you focus on your time abroad.

Good luck.

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