Here at IMA, we believe in writing strong essays. We provide samples in our medical school guides, and we’ve shown you how to write strong personal statements. In today’s article, we’re going to examine the diversity essay.
The diversity essay is among the classic essay prompts that many universities employ to better understand their applicants. If you don’t know how to write a diversity essay, this can be tricky. That’s why we’re going to break down the elements. If you know what the essay question is asking and how to answer it, you can write a fantastic essay.
What Is Diversity?
Diversity is what makes you diverse. You could also say that diversity sets you apart from others. It makes you unique. It gives you an individual story to tell. Some kinds of diversity include:
- An unusual background
- A different educational experience
- A unique family history
How To Show Your Diversity
- Are you a U.S. immigrant?
- Were your parents immigrants?
- Do your parents have an unusual background?
If any of these apply to you, you can describe diverse aspects of your childhood. For example, if your mom was from China and ran a restaurant to support your family, you could talk about how your immigrant mother built a business from the ground up and taught you the value of hard work. What might seem ordinary or common to you could be unique and inspirational to someone else (like the admissions committee!).
- Are you a veteran?
- Did you serve as president of a club?
- Were you on your debate team?
Not all diversity means having diverse roots. Some experiences can make you diverse as well. For example, if you’ve been through the Army’s Basic Combat Training or Advanced Individual Training, you’ll surely have stories to tell. Your experiences will bring diversity to the campus you’re attending.
In short, diversity is about anything that makes you unique. Your diversity can come from your religious or cultural background. It could come from your sexual orientation or gender identity. But it could also be something entirely different. Indeed, you could write a story about having a rare disease and how you’ve worked through setbacks. Even that is diverse.
We go into such great detail on what you can classify as “diversity” because some students get freaked out. They think that coming from a middle-class family in a suburban neighborhood means they’re not “diverse.” Then they worry that they won’t get into medical school because they’re not “diverse enough.” That is not true! Everyone has something that makes them diverse. And sharing that story will help the admissions committee to get to know you better.
Why Is Diversity Important?
Diversity matters for a few reasons.
- Diversity improves a student’s classroom experience.
- Diversity teaches things you can’t learn in a textbook.
- Diversity in medicine allows for better healthcare.
If everyone came from the same background, had the same interests and interacted the same way, we’d have a pretty boring world. But if we surround ourselves with a diverse population, our opportunities for growth never end.
Once you don your white coat as an M.D. or D.O., you’ll be surrounded by diverse populations. The more diversity you’ve been exposed to, the better of a healthcare provider you’ll be.
10 Diversity Examples to Get You Started
We’ve talked about diversity… now let’s get you started! Here are ten examples to showcase your diversity.
- You were raised by your grandmother after your single mother passed away from cancer.
- You subscribe to a different set of beliefs than you did when you were a child.
- You didn’t have that many friends at school. Only 3% of students were also of your ethnicity. It was hard to find others to relate to.
- You grew up in the military. You called your father “Sir” far more than you called him “Dad”. You have deep respect for him, but not really a relationship.
- You learned to adapt to an ever-changing environment because your family was part of a traveling circus.
- You’re a dual citizen. You grew up in France but moved to the U.S. as a teenager.
- Your little brother has cerebral palsy. You’ve helped take care of him since he was a baby.
- You grew up in a neighborhood with lots of different political beliefs. You’ve seen a lot of injustice and have protested for positive change.
- You were diagnosed with dyslexia when you were little. You adapted to your environment and learned different ways to study.
- You’ve been a ballerina since you were five years old. Not only do you love the sport, but it’s taught you the value of hard work, determination, discipline and grit.
These are just a few of the examples you could use to get started with your own diversity essay.
Writing Your Diversity Essay
Now that we’ve covered what diversity is, let’s talk about how to write about it. Because you want to tell a story, but you also want to appropriately craft your essay for the admissions department.
First, let’s examine what the question is. Not every school asks about diversity in the same way. For example, one school might ask how diversity has shaped you as a person, while another school might ask what diversity means to you. Some schools even combine diversity with adversity. They’ll ask you how you’ve overcome injustice related to diversity. Carefully examine the question to ensure you properly answer it. And whatever you write about, be bold. Shyness won’t show the admissions committee who you are as a person.
Second, formatting your essay is the way to go. This will help you write within a framework so that your writing isn’t all over the place. You don’t want the admissions committee to have a hard time following what you wrote.
- Introduce yourself. First off, tell the admissions committee who you are. But don’t write, “Hi, I’m Hannah, and I want to attend Perelman School of Medicine.” The admissions committee already knows who you are. Your name is listed on your application. Instead, describe who you are. What is your gender identity? What about your sexual orientation? Your background? Did you grow up Catholic but became a Latter-day Saint? Are you the first doctor in your family? Did you grow up in poverty?
And those questions are just ideas to get you started. Think about what makes you unique, and describe yourself in that light. This will make up the first part of your essay.
- How has your diversity impacted you? The admissions committee knows you’re diverse. It’s time to tell them what you’ve done with your diversity. How have you grown through it? How has it affected you? This could be negative or positive. How have you adapted to different circumstances?
The sky is the limit with this one. You can talk about scholastic achievements, leadership positions, service projects, work or internships, or even serving in the military.
- Tie it back to diversity. It’s really easy to get lost in the experience you’re sharing, especially when you’re passionate about something. Be sure to tie your experience into your diversity, and how that contributes to your M.D. candidacy. Why should this school accept you? How do your ideas, your philosophical approach and your work ethic influence you?
This is also where you’ll want to wrap up your essay. Transition into your conclusion.
We’re Here to Help
Do you need help with your diversity essay? If so, International Medical Aid is here to help! We offer medical school admissions consulting, which includes reviewing your secondary application essays. Our experts can guide you through the writing process. We’ll even proofread your essay for you and provide pointers on how to improve it.
It’s easy to schedule a virtual appointment with us right on our website. We look forward to helping you.
Are you deciding which medical schools to apply to? Check out our series of definitive guides on how to get into different medical schools. We regularly update our blog with more universities, so check back often!
- Baylor College of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Pennsylvania)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences (in California)
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School
Finally, if you want to immerse yourself in experiences that will build your diversity, consider going on an internship with us. We offer internships all over the world to students just like you. Our doctors travel to multiple countries to provide healthcare to individuals who live in remote areas without easy access to healthcare.
We wish you good luck as you write your diversity essay and with every section of your medical school application! Remember that we’re here to help, should you need it along the way!