Uneducated city as diversity?

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JDndMSW
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Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby JDndMSW » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:18 am

So I have always felt that I was living in a very uneducated area and as I was thinking about applications I was considering on putting this in my applications. I personally know only a small handful of people who are pursuing advanced degrees and I am the only person I know who is or has applied to law school. In doing a little research I have found that both of the more populated cities that each border my smaller town were ranked in the "Bottom 10 metro areas, by proportion of adults 25 and older with a Bachelor's degree or above". Would this be something to highlight in my application?

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birdlaw117
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby birdlaw117 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:25 am

JDndMSW wrote:So I have always felt that I was living in a very uneducated area and as I was thinking about applications I was considering on putting this in my applications. I personally know only a small handful of people who are pursuing advanced degrees and I am the only person I know who is or has applied to law school. In doing a little research I have found that both of the more populated cities that each border my smaller town were ranked in the "Bottom 10 metro areas, by proportion of adults 25 and older with a Bachelor's degree or above". Would this be something to highlight in my application?

I think it would be very difficult to use this in a way that doesn't say "I think I'm better than everyone I grew up with." Also, I'm not really sure what benefit this could possibly be in the process. Now, if your area is economically disadvantaged (which it may be due to the lack of education), you could potentially use that. However, you can really only use it if your family was economically disadvantaged and if it allows you to tell a compelling story.

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JDndMSW
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby JDndMSW » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:30 am

birdlaw117 wrote:
JDndMSW wrote:So I have always felt that I was living in a very uneducated area and as I was thinking about applications I was considering on putting this in my applications. I personally know only a small handful of people who are pursuing advanced degrees and I am the only person I know who is or has applied to law school. In doing a little research I have found that both of the more populated cities that each border my smaller town were ranked in the "Bottom 10 metro areas, by proportion of adults 25 and older with a Bachelor's degree or above". Would this be something to highlight in my application?

I think it would be very difficult to use this in a way that doesn't say "I think I'm better than everyone I grew up with." Also, I'm not really sure what benefit this could possibly be in the process. Now, if your area is economically disadvantaged (which it may be due to the lack of education), you could potentially use that. However, you can really only use it if your family was economically disadvantaged and if it allows you to tell a compelling story.


It actually says nothing about the people who I grew up with since the data is about those currently living here (most people who I grew up with who are successful have since moved). I am just talking about the effects of growing up in an area where only about 15% have a bachelors degree and 5% have a graduate degree.

On a side note when talking about economic disadvantage does this have to be for an extended time? Due to a divorce, abandonment, mental breakdown my family pretty much lost everything for a brief time but with help of others were able to rebound (mostly it's a compelling story about my mom)...

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birdlaw117
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby birdlaw117 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:38 am

JDndMSW wrote:
birdlaw117 wrote:
JDndMSW wrote:So I have always felt that I was living in a very uneducated area and as I was thinking about applications I was considering on putting this in my applications. I personally know only a small handful of people who are pursuing advanced degrees and I am the only person I know who is or has applied to law school. In doing a little research I have found that both of the more populated cities that each border my smaller town were ranked in the "Bottom 10 metro areas, by proportion of adults 25 and older with a Bachelor's degree or above". Would this be something to highlight in my application?

I think it would be very difficult to use this in a way that doesn't say "I think I'm better than everyone I grew up with." Also, I'm not really sure what benefit this could possibly be in the process. Now, if your area is economically disadvantaged (which it may be due to the lack of education), you could potentially use that. However, you can really only use it if your family was economically disadvantaged and if it allows you to tell a compelling story.


It actually says nothing about the people who I grew up with since the data is about those currently living here (most people who I grew up with who are successful have since moved). I am just talking about the effects of growing up in an area where only about 15% have a bachelors degree and 5% have a graduate degree.

On a side note when talking about economic disadvantage does this have to be for an extended time? Due to a divorce, abandonment, mental breakdown my family pretty much lost everything for a brief time but with help of others were able to rebound (mostly it's a compelling story about my mom)...

I'm just saying that talking about how people where you're from are uneducated while you're attempting to seek a graduate degree is likely to come off douchey.

If you can write about how those factors affected you and how you grew from them (particularly if they were slightly more recent or had a lasting impact) it could be a good topic to write about. Really, most things could be good topics if well-written.

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JDndMSW
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby JDndMSW » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:48 am

Hmmm I can somewhat see where you are coming from but I do not see where this automatically comes off as being douche-y.

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birdlaw117
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby birdlaw117 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:17 am

JDndMSW wrote:Hmmm I can somewhat see where you are coming from but I do not see where this automatically comes off as being douche-y.

Maybe you can include it tactfully. You can always write it and ask people what they think. You asked for an opinion. I gave you mine.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:17 am

"In my city only 15% of people graduated college". Auto Reject.

"Due to a divorce, abandonment, mental breakdown my family pretty much lost everything". Potential.

Don't kid yourself. This won't get you a URM-caliber boost. It's still all about the LSAT and GPA.

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JDndMSW
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby JDndMSW » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:19 am

Tiago Splitter wrote:"In my city only 15% of people graduated college". Auto Reject.

"Due to a divorce, abandonment, mental breakdown my family pretty much lost everything". Potential.

Don't kid yourself. This won't get you a URM-caliber boost. It's still all about the LSAT and GPA.


I just realized I didn't expect to get much of an URM boost. Which then made me rethink why I even care to write a statement. Should I?

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:29 am

The DS prompt will generally ask about how your unique background will improve the class. If you can explain your difficult upbringing in that sort of way, then go for it.

sold123
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby sold123 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:54 am

You can use statistics to support whatever mechanism you use to frame your story, but don't let it be the frame. Let your story be guided by anecdotes and experiences from your life.

As long as these are relevant to who you are, and shaped you in a way that is unusual, you have a potential story. In other words, DS's have a broad, broad reach, and if you are a good storyteller, worth taking advantage of.

MrAnon
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby MrAnon » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:58 am

The purpose of the diversity essay is to probe for racial minority status. They don't care if you are an uneducated white.

delusional
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby delusional » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:05 am

birdlaw117 wrote:
JDndMSW wrote:So I have always felt that I was living in a very uneducated area and as I was thinking about applications I was considering on putting this in my applications. I personally know only a small handful of people who are pursuing advanced degrees and I am the only person I know who is or has applied to law school. In doing a little research I have found that both of the more populated cities that each border my smaller town were ranked in the "Bottom 10 metro areas, by proportion of adults 25 and older with a Bachelor's degree or above". Would this be something to highlight in my application?

I think it would be very difficult to use this in a way that doesn't say "I think I'm better than everyone I grew up with." Also, I'm not really sure what benefit this could possibly be in the process. Now, if your area is economically disadvantaged (which it may be due to the lack of education), you could potentially use that. However, you can really only use it if your family was economically disadvantaged and if it allows you to tell a compelling story.

I agree that it would be difficult, but it's certainly not impossible. Instead of emphasizing that everyone you know is dumb (just hyperbole, relax), you can talk about how the area is suffused with a blue collar work ethic, and you have learned the lessons of that lifestyle and want to apply them to more intellectually stimulating educational options.
I had to walk a similar line in my PS, and I think that being aware of the issue as I wrote about it made it a strong point of the essay.

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bk1
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby bk1 » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:20 am

First off, your reasons for writing a DS as you have posted them seem pretty thin. While at my high school probably about 1/2 of the kids didn't get a BA/BS, I was surrounded with the ones that did. And prior to starting law school, I knew only a couple people going to graduate school and only 1-2 going to law school yet I would never consider myself someone who has constantly had to put up and live around dumbs. So I think your reasons seem pretty sketch as you've laid them out (but I dunno, maybe there's more to it).

More importantly though, I think there is a valid argument to be made for this kind of DS if you are actually affected by it. In my opinion it would be more appropriate if it was family oriented. Meaning, who gives a shit if you were surrounded by dumbfucks at school all day if your parents were middle class college educated people? It's your own dumbass fault for choosing to hang around those kids and you still have a family that likely values education. Where it makes more sense is if you come from a family that doesn't value education or you come from a family that lacks education (i.e. they do value education even though they never went to college). This sort of DS (first generation college grad) is often explicitly desired by the wording of applications and I do think it is worth including.

Will it give a boost and help you outperform your numbers? Of course not, but if it is well written you should include because it is another opportunity to make yourself stand out.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:08 pm

sold123 wrote:You can use statistics to support whatever mechanism you use to frame your story, but don't let it be the frame. Let your story be guided by anecdotes and experiences from your life.

As long as these are relevant to who you are, and shaped you in a way that is unusual, you have a potential story. In other words, DS's have a broad, broad reach, and if you are a good storyteller, worth taking advantage of.

This. This is great advice.

Statistics can help tell a story, but don't treat them like they are the story. You can have facts you want to reveal, but that sound boring. For example, I could say I came from a school district with a high poverty rate, or that I came from a very small rural town. These are potentially interesting facts, but they don't really make you care about the person conveying them as you read them. But if you think about connecting your personal experiences to those facts, you can make them really stand out by showing how they relate to you, like the following:

"My hometown lacked its own library, supermarket, or gas station, but is often described as too small to have its own Dairy Queen. My school district had one of the highest poverty rates in the state, and two-thirds of my classmates ate for free the bland school lunches that I had to pay for. Sometimes I got to bring a tasty packed lunch instead, though due to family pride and financial instability, there were a few days I just didn't eat at all."

Still gets the message across the small town size and the poverty rate. But they're not being read as statistics anymore, they're being read as part of a person's life. They pack a much bigger punch than just giving straight facts.

Figure out how your facts fit naturally into your story. That's how you write great essays.

MrAnon wrote:The purpose of the diversity essay is to probe for racial minority status. They don't care if you are an uneducated white.

Doubly untrue. The purpose is broader than just screening for URMs, and they would care if you're an "uneducated white" since top law schools generally don't want uneducated people. (That's what other posters are cautioning about; making yourself appear uneducated is shooting yourself in the foot.)

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Uneducated city as diversity?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:12 pm

vanwinkle wrote:(That's what other posters are cautioning about; making yourself appear uneducated is shooting yourself in the foot.)


I know I was more focused on keeping the OP from coming across as elitist.

OP: Keep in mind that only 30% of those 25 and older in the US have a bachelor's degree, and around 10% an advanced degree. Plenty of applicants will have grown up in places where those numbers are closer to 15% and 5%, as you did.




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