Law School Discussion

"Appropriate" Adversity?

"Appropriate" Adversity?
« on: October 14, 2008, 10:05:09 AM »
I would like to preface this by saying that I'm not someone who constantly feels victimized and has a chip on his shoulder about everything.  That said:

I'm gay (and unfortunately not very closeted in my mannerisms).  If I wrote a diversity statement, I think it would reflect this because otherwise I'm pretty bread and butter, white, middle class male.

So, some bad things have happened pretty much as a result of the gay thing.  In high school, I was assaulted on my way home from work in broad daylight in an extremely safe suburban neighborhood by a stranger who'd been waiting for me and called me "the f word."  I was also very recently raped after I went to a bar by myself.  I'm pretty sure neither of these things would have happened had I been straight.

That said, I wouldn't want to write a sob story or dwell on gory details, and it would have to have a positive spin.  I just am asking if these are "appropriate" things to mention as concrete examples of adversity that I've overcome.  To be honest, I don't really consider myself a victim as much as someone who's lucky that he's not dead, which might be a weird way to look at what's happened.

clairel

  • ****
  • 977
  • UChicago 3L
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: "Appropriate" Adversity?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2008, 06:41:42 PM »
totally up to you, but this is just my take on addendums (and i tend to be anti-addendum because i think it's hard to write them without being whiny, even if the circumstances absolutely justify an explanation).

i would include either of those in an addendum if:

a) they affected your desire to study law or are part of a larger narrative for your personal statement, or
b) your grades dropped/you have a period of unexplained time after either when you were dealing with trauma or medical concerns

that being said, if you decide to disclose either, you'd need to tie it to your application somehow. if your grades dropped/you lost your job after the rape incident, use that in an addendum. if it led to your desire to study law or got you to volunteer for a victim's rights or gay eight's group, include that in an addendum. i think your circumstances definitely merit an explanation if you can tie it in to why you decided to study law or how you've overcome either incident. i would err on the side of not writing an addendum if you don't feel you can tie them in to make your entire application stronger.

not meaning to be harsh about it...i hope you're recovering from your recent incident and good luck in your cycle!

Re: "Appropriate" Adversity?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2008, 12:46:06 PM »
From the applications that I've seen, a ps about discrimination is often something adcomms want to read. Even if it didn't affect your grades, I'm sure it affected your outlook. You have some very concrete discrimination to talk about...if you're squeamish about it, that sounds like an effect of discrimination you may want to explore: that you don't want to be understood as "weak" or "powerless" speaks volumes about going into a field like law.

CTL

  • ****
  • 1185
    • View Profile
Re: "Appropriate" Adversity?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2008, 01:05:20 PM »
THAT IS HUGE!

Being a victim of rape is most certainly a life-changing event in one's life, so why not talk about it in a diversity statement?  I'm sure noone has to tell you that gay people are discriminated against regardless of their socio-economic background or race.  It sounds like you've definitely faced adversity, which no doubt shaped who you are today.  Why not write about it?  The whole reason that law schools offer applicants the option to write a 'diversity' statement is because they seek to admit individuals with particularly diverse backgrounds.  Seize the opportunity to reflect on your experience with injustice, and write it from the heart.  I guarantee you will not sound 'whiny' if you tap into what YOU feel, leaving any preconceptions that you might have about what the readers WANT to hear aside.

Re: "Appropriate" Adversity?
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2008, 06:21:50 AM »
My advice is to write about this in your PS. Explain how you were a victim and what you did to overcome it and how it's changed your life in a posative manner. I know that while thinking of the posatives might be hard, i'm sure in some respect it has made you a better and stronger person. Also, the fact that you are a homosexual gives you a up in the admissions process since schools wont want to discriminate. Best of luck to you.

Re: "Appropriate" Adversity?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2008, 01:56:54 AM »
I would like to preface this by saying that I'm not someone who constantly feels victimized and has a chip on his shoulder about everything.  That said:

I'm gay (and unfortunately not very closeted in my mannerisms).  If I wrote a diversity statement, I think it would reflect this because otherwise I'm pretty bread and butter, white, middle class male.

So, some bad things have happened pretty much as a result of the gay thing.  In high school, I was assaulted on my way home from work in broad daylight in an extremely safe suburban neighborhood by a stranger who'd been waiting for me and called me "the f word."  I was also very recently raped after I went to a bar by myself.  I'm pretty sure neither of these things would have happened had I been straight.

That said, I wouldn't want to write a sob story or dwell on gory details, and it would have to have a positive spin.  I just am asking if these are "appropriate" things to mention as concrete examples of adversity that I've overcome.  To be honest, I don't really consider myself a victim as much as someone who's lucky that he's not dead, which might be a weird way to look at what's happened.

I would be careful in using your sexual orientation to your advantage. Being gay by itself and being victimized throughout your life doesn't necessarily reflect your character. Be sure to show how your sexual orientation has hindered your progress in life, academics, career, etc and how you've overcome. Talk more about who you are today and who you've become as a result of overcoming those challenges.