Disadvantage Essay Law School

Re: Diversity Statement Samples

Postby friaznatch13 » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:09 am

I really like all of these. So when I wrote my DS I was sooo happy with it, but reading everyone elses it feels so inferior to me. Thankfully I'm done with applying or else I might have just gotten rid of it, but I guess some schools liked it so I hope you guys do to!

I cannot pinpoint the exact day as to when I realized that I was different, but at a certain point, I could never understand why I have always been treated so. Growing up, I have had society tell me many different things that I did not even know about myself. I have had the media dictate to society what they ought to expect from me because my skin complexion matches that of other people. Today, I have found comfort in my skin, no matter what people think of me, but the truth is that to understand who I truly am, I have to come clear on exactly what I am not...

I am not Black. It was not until I got a little bit older that people would start comparing me to other Blacks that I differentiated myself. I was not just Black. My skin might have been darker, but I was not the type of person you can fit into a category. What I truly am is: Canadian, Jamaican, Indian, Scottish and Jewish (the ethnicity, not the religion). What people do not know when they look at me is that I am a quarter White and the majority Indian, it just so happens that my skin color matches that of other African Americans. Although, I have found that I have no choice, but to mark the box that says so, I am not Black.

I am not a part of a simple family. Not only am I different than the majority of society, I am completely unique within my own family as well. Both of my parents and three of my brothers were born in Jamaica and all of them had previously grown up in a neighborhood that had a dominant Jamaican culture. My parents both had children in previous marriages and upon marrying, they had me. My father’s three sons are Jamaican, Indian, and Jewish and my mother’s two are Jamaican, Chinese, and Scottish. It was hard growing up in a family that was so different than myself.

I am not supported by my family in everything that I do. I grew up with the mainstream Canadian culture and at times this was very different than the many cultures found in my own house. While everyone in my family was listening to Reggae, I started listening to country music. My parents could not grasp the fact that I would listen to alternative music such as Our Lady Peace and Nirvana. Not only would my brothers find it amusing to fool with me for the sheer fact that I was a girl, but because of mere music selections, I had set myself apart and would pay the price. Not a day would go by that I would not be ridiculed for the fact that the majority of my friends were White, I listened to “White people” music, and had no idea how to be Black. Their favorite thing to call me was “White-washed.” I found out at a very early age that being “Black” had a lot more to do with than my skin color.

I am not a spoiled little girl. Both of my parents had respectable employment, but due to unfortunate circumstances, they became unable to work. My mother, working at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation as a court clerk, worked in a time before headsets and spent a lot of time with the telephone resting on her shoulder while typing. This caused arthritis from her neck right down through her fingers. My father was just as unfortunate. He used to deliver for UPS, but one day, while on the job, he fell down a staircase and now has incurable back problems and arthritis in his right shoulder. Both of my parents, due to their injuries are now on permanent disability and can no longer work. This created so many problems for my family. No longer could my father even pick me up, my mother had to learn to write with her left hand, and they both battled depression. My parents would trade sitting at home to go back to work in a second and it is their work ethic I wish to emulate. At a very early age, I had to realize that my parents could not financially support me. I have had to work hard to get to where I am today, and because of my parents, I know that I cannot take anything for granted.

I am not held back by stereotypes. Just as I do not classify myself as being “Black”, I do not believe that I have to live up to the stereotypes of that title. As a child, my parents gave me the freedom to try many things and entertain many dreams and for this I am grateful because I have become a very well rounded person. Unfortunately, many people would not use the term “well rounded”, but instead it changes into being “White”. For some reason, a Black person is acting White when they are able to ice skate and swim, do not watch Black Entertainment Television, but instead listen to country music. Those who get to know me at Niagara University say the same things, they call me an “Oreo” because I am supposedly Black on the outside and White on the inside. If I were to listen and internalize all of the stereotypes I have heard throughout the years, I would never have become the woman I am today. I have come to realize that by labeling certain things as either "Black" or "White" is putting a limitation on what I am capable of doing. No action should be unacceptable because of my race, because no matter what I look like on the outside, in the end I am still a human being.

Who I am is not easily explained, but over the years I have found myself knowing exactly who I am not. I am comfortable in my own skin, I have found a way to survive life without a great deal of money and I reject the stereotypes that could potentially hold me back. I no longer care if someone thinks that I am “acting White” and they refer to me as an Oreo, instead I have no problem in joining and letting them know that I am no ordinary Oreo, I am double stuffed.

Law School Application Optional Essays

The below excerpt on optional law school application essays, as well as other required addenda, is from A Guide to Optional Essays and Addenda.

Which Statements are Optional, and Why?

First, though, let’s delve into the gray area of those “should I or shouldn’t I?” statements. They come in two general variations: those that are of general application and those that may or may not apply to you. Interestingly, applicants often err in the wrong direction with regard to both types of statement. For example, if the school provides an optional statement on the subject of why you want to attend that particular law school, you should probably write that essay. By “probably”, I mean “if you’re interested in attending that law school and your numbers aren’t comfortably above the school’s medians”. Often, however, applicants disregard this type of question.

Paradoxically, questions like “describe any socio-economic disadvantages you’ve overcome that may be relevant to your future in the legal profession” send many applicants scurrying to conjure up a response, even though the question might have absolutely no application to the applicant’s background or present situation. While this second statement type is also loosely referred to as an optional or supplemental statement, it is more conditional in nature: it has an implied “if this applies to your circumstances!” attached to it that many applicants overlook.

So, while the general application questions like “why do you want to attend this particular law school” are often ignored, those geared toward students with a particular type of experience are often included when they shouldn’t be, resulting in statements that are forced, not directly on point and either unhelpful or actually harmful.

Why is It So Important to Answer the General Application Questions?

First, let me throw out some numbers: For the 2009 academic year, Harvard Law School rejected more than 5,700 applicants—about 87% of the applicant pool. The far less competitive Northern Illinois University only rejected 888; since that school received far fewer applications, the rejected applicants made up only about 70% of the total applicant pool. In other words, at every level the vast majority of applicants to a particular school are rejected.

Of course, some of those applicants are rejected for specific reasons, early in the weed-out process. Some will be eliminated based purely on the numbers, without more than a cursory review (or none at all) of the soft factors. Some will have dealbreakers of one kind or another in their backgrounds. Some will cut their own throats by submitting applications riddled with typos and omissions or by getting caught in the act of some unscrupulous application practice. But when all of those applicants have been removed from the pool, many qualified applicants will remain. More than the school has space to admit for the coming academic year. And at that point, the admissions process becomes a game of comparisons. Large numbers of applicants will cluster around particular numerical combinations and reviewers will be looking for the factors that set one prospective student apart from others. Your personal statement, as you undoubtedly know, is the generally the most significant of these factors. Letters of recommendation, properly managed, can come in at a strong second. But those aren’t the only factors.

Optional essays set you apart.

Note that I did not say, “Optional essays can set you apart.” With regard to general application optional essays, they set you apart whether you write them or not. The applicant who writes a pertinent, well-conceived essay in response to a general application question sets himself apart with the insights he provides and the quality of his writing. The applicant who chooses not to submit a response to a question clearly relevant to him sets himself apart by pointing out to the committee that he’s not willing to go the extra mile, that he’s either too lazy or too cocky to do everything he possibly can to enhance his application package.

Or, the omission may send a specific message. For example, with regard to the earlier mentioned question regarding the prospective students reasons for wishing to attend that particular school, failure to respond could easily be interpreted as “no special reason” or “I don’t really know.” Law schools, particularly top level schools, receive a large number of applications from prospective students who chose them because they’d heard of them or because they want to apply to as many schools as possible or because the school has a high ranking and generally good reputation.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with any of that, but there’s nothing terribly right about it, either. It’s certainly not compelling to an admissions officer.

That’s not to say that failing to answer that question will lead any particular reader to any particular conclusion. There are myriad possible explanations: laziness, overconfidence, running out of time, no articulable reasons for wanting to attend that particular school, not having done your homework on the school before selecting it and maybe more. Notice the trend, though? None of the possible explanations that spring to mind are going to build the admissions committee’s perception of the applicant who doesn’t submit that essay.

Of course, many general application questions have less baggage than this one. If, for example, you opt not to answer a question about a significant challenge you faced and how you overcame it, that won’t raise questions about whether you’ve adequately researched schools and chosen wisely where to apply. However, at the end of the first phase of weeding you’ll still find yourself in competition with a lot of people whose numbers are close to yours and whose extracurriculars are relatively similar to yours and who have gone to the trouble of answering the optional essays. It’s a separator before the content of those essays is even considered. Then, you can make your essay a separator at the next level, too, by making the most of the opportunity to tell the admissions committee still more about yourself, your interest in the school or whatever other relevant information that prompt invites.

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