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Last year more so than any other year, schools added a new essay which is meant to challenge an applicant. This new essay will help admissions officers discover who you really are, how you think, and in what ways you will fit into their school. The world is changing on a daily basis, and this new essay will help them see if and how you are changing with it. It’s the “diversity” essay.

When applicants think about diversity, they typically think of: race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and more. How you relate to someone who doesn’t look like you, grew up in a city or country different from you, think/act differently than you, says so much about how you adapt. And outside the safe bubble of your city, town, high school, and state, you will find a huge group of people who aren’t like you at all. Will you be open and accepting of these new peers?

But diversity also means “diversity of thought.”  Yes, just having a different thought process or belief is a great topic for this essay. Let me explain by example:

Last year, I worked with an applicant who was devoutly pro-life. Don’t judge! It’s her belief, and it stems from her faith, and she has a right to it. It’s how she was raised. One day, she was in a class and the topic was abortion. Her classmates were for the most part “pro-choice,” while she was avowed pro-life. She tried to explain her thoughts on the subject in an honest, heartfelt way. She swayed no one. But after listening to her classmates speak passionately about a woman’s body is her own, she started to see that it wasn’t right tell someone else what to do with their body. This is diversity of thought.

Maybe you think differently with your friends and peers about other topics like: the death penalty, tax rates, the federal minimum wage, the right to unionize, and others. Whatever you choose to write about about is fine – as long as you articulate how your thoughts differ from others and what you learned, how you changed, or how you evolved, then you will have a powerful essay which will show admissions officers how you think.

So when thinking of diversity, open your mind and explore what that means. Then write about it!