These prompts are similar in that they both want you to focus on the topic of diversity and inclusion. However, they each have slight differences. Prompt A invites you to describe your relationship with the value of diversity, while Prompt B focuses on particular actions you took (or plan to continue to take) for diversity measures.
Let’s break them down one by one.
We believe that everyone has something to contribute and receive from a diverse community. Why is belonging to a diverse and inclusive college community important to you? (200 words)
For this prompt, focus on why the value of diversity is important to you. Maybe that means describing a particular experience when you learned from people who were different from you. Or recall a time you felt (perhaps surprisingly) welcomed in a multicultural community. Or, on the flip side, describe a time when you didn’t feel included and how it made you realize the importance of diversity.
Since these prompts are new, we don’t have any specific examples to share, but this essay, written for UNC Chapel Hill, could work, with some tweaks that we’ll explain in the Tips + Analysis section below (though you’ll have 46 fewer words to use).
You wouldn’t think an American Asian Affinity Space would be diverse, after all its whole premise is centered around one specific identity. However, members of the affinity space at my high school come from several different grades, genders and ethnicities. The group included a sophomore from China, a junior from Pakistan, and members from Korea, Japan, and even Israel. We each had unique stories of living as an Asian-American, yet, we had all chosen to come to this affinity group. As we spent time together, we were able to find shared experiences, like our parents preparing packed lunches for us from our country and being too embarrassed to bring them to school. Whether eating humbow or biryani, we all knew what it was like to feel out of place.
My work with the AAAS got me thinking about what diversity can look like, and what it means to embrace diversity. On the one hand, you can find diversity even when people appear to be alike. By exploring our differences, we can continue learning from each other even when it seems we have shared backgrounds and values. At the same time, people who seem really different may have shared human experiences, feeling like the “other” or being embarrassed by their parents, that can bring them together. Moving forward, I want to learn about people’s differences, hearing their stories and learning about their backgrounds while also creating spaces for people to have shared experiences that bring people together. (246 words)
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Tips + Analysis
Be specific when describing your experiences. This student does that well, relating how the value of diversity (“different grades, genders and ethnicities”) impacted her American Asian Affinity Space club, using details like “eating humbow or biryani” to describe shared experiences. As you go to write, try to engage your 5 senses in the color and examples you use.
Don’t just describe what your experience with diversity was, but describe why the value of diversity is important to you. In this example, the student describes her experience with AAAS and what she learned, but she didn’t specifically mention how it made her value diversity. Think of this essay as what you experienced + why/how that influenced the kind of diverse environment you’re seeking in college. To answer this version of the prompt, this student could have tweaked her essay to add a sentence or two that described how hearing the stories of her peers in AAAS made her realize the importance of being surrounded by a multicultural blend of students and how she craves that same environment in college.
Be you. In other words, pull from your own experience. There’s no right or wrong answer to this prompt(or, really, any prompts, for that matte). The admission team merely wants to understand your relationship with diversity and whether you think it’s an important element of y0ur environment. You could have grown up in a homogenous community and still have important insight to share. You could talk about how you hope to be in a more diverse environment in college, for instance, to have the opportunity to learn about different cultures and perspectives. You don’t have to have a crazy story of your experience as a marginalized group or of living in a robustly diverse city to write an impactful essay.
Advancing diversity and inclusion (D&I) can be hard work and a continuous learning process. Tell us about how you have either recently championed D&I or how you plan to maintain a deep commitment to D&I in college. (200 words)
For this prompt, focus on a time you specifically made an impact on diversity in a community or other setting, or a plan you have to continue implementing D&I practices in college. Maybe you were the Editor-in-Chief of your high school paper and you started a D&I officer position on the Editorial Board. Or, maybe you started a club at your school that centered around diversity efforts, and you want to found a new chapter of your club at Pomona.
This example was also written for another school, but with a few changes, could be a nice response for this Pomona prompt (though yours would have to be shorter).
As the oldest child of immigrants, I’ve often been the first person my parents turn to when they needed help writing an email or simplifying a wordy article into layman’s terms. Even I originally struggled to connect with my peers, pronouncing certain words with an accent. Although my writing and reading skills drastically improved due to necessity, I became fascinated with the ways people got messages across.
As an individual who constantly sees inequality, I became intrigued by the intersection of communications and sociology with the Muted Group Theory. The theory explains that the English language devalues the words, thoughts, and experiences of marginalized groups. Originally studied in relationships between men than women, the theory has come to describe groups such as the LGBTQ community and people of color. I began to see this theory in my everyday life.
I continued to write and translate for my family who struggled with English as their second language throughout my time in high school. Realizing that in certain situations the Muted Group Theory would make it harder for me to express how they felt or portray my family in a bad light, I worked to make sure that was not the case. I even joined the high school newspaper, learning how to professionally communicate and support a point through writing. Eventually, I passed on that knowledge to the younger newspaper staff.
Furthering my interest in the intersection of communications and societal impacts, I studied in my summer college course on Intro to Sociology, how societal norms regulate our actions while our individual actions shape society. I particularly was drawn to ethnomethods, ways people make sense of others’ actions or statements. This course empowered me as an activist. I realized how impactful race, gender, and socioeconomic status are and how to create dialogue between groups. Utilizing my knowledge on the Muted Group Theory, I put extra effort when speaking about or to marginalized groups. And I shared my newfound knowledge with my chapter of Amnesty International in hopes that I would eventually create greater understanding across diverse social identities. (346 words)
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Tips + Analysis
Choose this prompt if you have actual experience championing D&I or plan to do so in college. This student has personal experience translating for his family and taking a sociology course that added to his knowledge of diversity. Don’t try to pull something from thin air to answer this prompt because you think it’s what admission officers want to hear. At the risk of stating the obvious: Just as there is no “right” answer, there’s no “better” prompt to pick. Choose the one that resonates with you. Yep, it’s that simple.
Focus on one D&I topic. Since you only have 200 words to work with, think about narrowing your focus (and simplifying your thesis) by staying on one topic in the D&I realm, rather than talking about a variety of different, disconnected D&I efforts you’ve made. This student, for example, focuses on the Muted Theory Group and how the English language devalues marginalized peoples. Although he talked about different actions he took both at home and at his school newspaper, his stays focused around the same topic, making for a clear delivery.
Show impact, big or small. This student talks about an D&I effort inspired by what was happening in his own home. Whatever your action, don’t assume you have to make a huge impact on the rest of the world to deliver a compelling essay. Whether you’ve improved conditions in your home, your local community, or the entire country, it’s worth talking about.
Don’t forget about the second part of the prompt. This part—“how you plan to maintain a deep commitment to D&I in college”—is critical. It doesn’t have to be the focus of your essay, but you can easily add a sentence that shows your commitment to the value of diversity. For instance, if this essay was written for this prompt, the student may have added a sentence or two describing how he plans to apply his diversity lessons to his life in college, maybe by founding a new chapter of Amnesty International at Pomona.