What You Need to Know About Diversity Statements
Law school applications typically consist of essay prompts that applicants are required to complete. Many law schools, however, also tend to include optional essays such as a diversity statement.
“Prompts for diversity statements vary among law schools, but typically concern an applicant’s identity and background, past hardships or potential to contribute to a diverse and inclusive campus environment,” Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, writes.
While you may feel inclined to submit as much material to admissions officers as possible, experts say applicants should think twice before submitting a diversity statement. Mike Spivey, founder of Spivey Consulting, recently discussed a few factors that applicants should consider if deciding whether a diversity statement fits in their application.
WHO SHOULD WRITE DIVERSITY STATEMENTS?
While every school’s diversity statement prompt differs, most are intended to give applicants a space to offer more perspective on who they are and where they came from.
Spivey says areas such as race, ethnicity, national origin, and culture are most commonly used to define ‘diversity,’ but diversity statements aren’t only limited to these classifications.
“Socioeconomic disadvantage, first-generation status, religion, sexual orientation, disability (and the intersectionality of any and all of these) are all examples of possible topics for a diversity statement,” Spivey writes. “Also, an uncommon upbringing, overcoming adversity, or having gone through a serious, life-altering experience are examples of other themes — and even this is not an exhaustive list.”
DIVERSITY STATEMENT VS. PERSONAL STATEMENT
While they may appear similar, diversity statements and personal statements are different.
“Your personal statement can be a topic that would fit as a diversity statement, but then be sure your diversity statement is not redundant with your personal statement, and it shouldn’t be used to simply lengthen it,” Spivey writes.
If you’re having trouble differentiating topics for the two statements, experts recommend looking at the two essays as complimentary of one another.
“To do this, make sure to develop an overall strategy before beginning to write either essay,” Shawn P. O’Connor, of US News, writes. “This way, you can make sure that both the topics of the essays and the specific events or experiences combine to create a complete picture of you, the applicant, without being redundant.”
In the end, Spivey says, if you’re still struggling to find a topic for your diversity statement, you probably shouldn’t be writing one.
“It is not something that everyone should submit, but when done well, a diversity statement can make a strong impact in a law school application,” Spivey writes.