In recent years, there has been debate about how the commitment to diversity on university campuses intersects with the issues of free speech, safe spaces, and trigger warnings. One way to answer this prompt is to tackle those issues head-on. Some useful context and a few perspectives on these issues can be found here.
If you take this approach to the prompt, you should avoid making generalized statements about whether or not you think “safe spaces” are good or bad. A better approach would be to write a response to a specific quote from someone else. For example, in the series of radio interviews I’ve linked to above, Cameron Okeke discusses the role that safe spaces played in his education. In a piece that he wrote for Vox, he says:
If you want the perspective of someone with PTSD, then you better be prepared to do the work to make them comfortable enough to speak up in class, and that means giving them a heads up when discussing potentially triggering topics.
Do you agree or disagree? What kinds of institutional support beyond trigger warnings might be needed to make people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) comfortable enough to speak up? When you pick out a specific claim and respond to it, you are not only giving your essay a clear focus but also demonstrating that you can participate in a thoughtful discussion of texts — something that you will be doing no matter what university you end up at or what you decide to major in.
Another way to respond to this prompt is to begin with a story from your own personal experience and then discuss how that experience shaped your ideas about what an “inclusive environment” looks like. For example, maybe you went to the county courthouse with your mother and saw a statue of a Confederate soldier outside the courthouse door. How did seeing that statue make you feel? Can an inclusive environment “include” such monuments? Creating a welcoming space might be more than just a matter of welcoming people from a variety of different backgrounds into that space; it might also have something to do with the plaques, memorials, and architecture of the space itself.
A third way of approaching this topic might be to talk about an environment that you felt did a particularly good job of welcoming diverse perspectives and ideas. Maybe you had a high school English teacher who always seemed like she was able to get a good, respectful discussion going. How did she accomplish that? Maybe instead of just tossing out an “open-ended” question and letting the loudest students in the classroom talk, the teacher asked everyone to write down a response first and then had you form smaller discussion groups — giving those who might be more shy an avenue to start speaking.
On its face, this teaching technique might not seem directly related to welcoming people from diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives. But on closer examination, the link might be clear.
If a classroom only has one student from India, and the text for discussion on that particular day happens to be Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, it is very easy for that student to feel the pressure of somehow serving as the “example” of all of Indian culture to the class as a whole. Some students might welcome that role, but for many that can be an uncomfortable position.
Perhaps the small group discussion technique lets students address each other as individuals and sustain a more dynamic conversation that does not put one particular student “on the spot.” If you are interested, USC’s Rossier School of Education has assembled an online library of resources for building an inclusive classroom that you can investigate.
Whatever approach you take, I would encourage you to focus in on something specific: a specific quote from someone, a specific personal experience, or a specific form of institutional support that you encountered. This prompt runs the risk of inviting vague pontificating, but a thoughtful discussion usually begins with an analysis of a specific text or situation from which more general conclusions are later developed.
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MBA Application Essays: Diversity essays are an important aspect of application essays for business schools. They are intended to know the candidate's surroundings, values, beliefs which are not possible through other essays. The common questions in this group are:
1. How will you contribute to the diversity of the University/School?
2. Why you?
3. If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why?
4. What is unique about your background and experience that you would bring to your classmates at MBS?
5. How will you contribute to your classes and to the AGSM community?
Click here to know the MBA application essay questions of the Top 10 Business Schools.
Click here to know the MBA application essay questions of the Business Schools ranked 11–20.
Popularly known as diversity essays, these questions are an attempt to look into the applicant’s non-academic or social background. Diversity here does not only mean cultural, national, or racial diversity. Through the question, the Admission Committee (ADCOM) wants to understand how unique you are. What is the trait about you that is different from others in the course? How will you as a person contribute to the course? Is there something worth learning from you? MBA Application essay on Diversity is not just about race; here it is about geographic, socio-economic, cultural, religious, people with various disabilities. Read on to know how to write MBA application essays on diversity.
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Every MBA Application essay should have an apt title, to make the ADCOM or anyone for that matter to read on. While titles are glimpses of what’s to come, they should never be a gimmick. The reader should get more information when they read the whole essay and not feel tricked.
As the information about other applicants is not known, deciding why one is unique is a difficult task. Physical achievements know no bounds, it can be a big feat for someone to go down the Grand Canyon but then there might be someone else there who has visited the Challenger deep.
The uniqueness has to be about the person and their thoughts and the actions they have taken or the lessons they have learnt. It can be something as basic as philately, pottery, and origami or as big as participating in a Desert car rally. What is notable here is take-away of these activities. Teaching origami or chess to kids, or may be organising pottery workshops for old age home residents as a part of therapy and entertainment, counts towards diversity.
For that matter, a sports person, or someone who has learned a different language and experience the culture, or someone who plays in a band, anyone who has shown initiative in his life in however small a way matters.
Leadership, Focus, and Team spirit
Before writing an MBA application essay, it is important to remember that business schools aim to create future leaders and are, therefore, looking for people with team skills and leadership traits. You do not need to have performed exceptional feats to be able to write about your possible contribution to the school/university. So, in case, you have climbed Mount Everest, which would be very good but if you have led your school group on a treasure hunt successfully or unsuccessfully also works. The aspect to focus on here is to be able to showcase how and to what degree the situations or challenges you have been in have affected or changed you, the changes can be positive or negative, or both.
While being honest is good, we should be politically correct at the same time. In the present scenario, racial diversity is not as important as diversity of experience. In case, you decide to write about racial diversity, instead write about cultures, people, family, travel, social discomfort, maturation and introspection without the racial characteristics. The MBA application essay write-up should be more about the diversity observed and changes incorporated within the self. More than prejudices, the diversity essay should be showcasing your response to the situation you were in, what have you learnt from your experiences and more importantly how has it moulded your world view.
Similarly, views on LGBTQIA issues should be best avoided.
The diversity essay is about YOU, so instead of trying to impress the ADCOM with some great unachievable feat you have been planning, explain who you are, what are your life experiences, perspectives and background. Mention a story or episode from your life which has affected you.
There is a fine line between humour and offence. Keep the humour to a line or two. If you have doubts on the humour, remove it. Culturally, what is humour for one person might be offensive to someone else.
ADCOM members read through numerous MBA application essays and can smell a fake or doctored essay from a mile. They have already read about all the great feats done and planned. Rather than explaining why you are unique, concentrate on who you are, your upbringing, your culture, your environment etc. to naturally set you apart from the other applicants.
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