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Author Topic: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?  (Read 7315 times)

theredbaron

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Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« on: December 27, 2005, 10:55:40 PM »
Hi, all --

Does anyone have experience with applications that contain a box indicating gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender identification and offer the option of writing a diversity essay?  (Particularly on Cornell & Penn's applications?)  I plan to check the boxes but am wondering if these schools would like to see some discussion of sexual orientation in the optional essay.

My dilemma is that I don't feel as though I have anything unique (sexuality-wise) to describe in a diversity essay that would strengthen my application; I can't talk about helping out with any queer clubs/issues on campus, for example.  My fear is that I'll look like I'm just trying to score minority points by checking the box but failing to address my sexuality in an essay.  I want to submit as many application materials as possible -- so I'm debating if it would look odd to write an entire diversity essay about work experience and skirt the sexuality issue.  I guess I could write a page about my girlfriend...  ;)

In all seriousness, thanks in advance for your input.

bosco8440

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2005, 09:08:43 PM »
I would maybe write a 250 word essay about it as an addendum, if there is nothing else self-explanatory about your orientation in your application (clubs, etc.).

theredbaron

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2005, 08:00:49 PM »
Thanks for the reply  :)

odaiko

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2005, 10:18:43 PM »
I think bosco's right--write a little addendum if you can come up with something that works. If nothing comes to mind, I wouldn't bother writing about it. Just because you identify as LGBT doesn't mean you need to rhapsodize about it; it can just be a fact of who you are, plain and simple.

This from a guy who wrote his entire personal statement about being gay.. :)

It is interesting that Penn has a box you can check, isn't it? I'd love to know how they use that data, if at all.
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theredbaron

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2005, 11:25:59 PM »
Thanks, odaiko.  Much appreciated.  I agree; it's interesting that both Cornell and Penn, which have those boxes, also include "sexual orientation" in their diversity statement prompt, unlike some other schools that don't use those boxes.  I was all ready to make a conclusion about that...but Michigan seems to defy the trend (if it can even be called that?) by noting "sexual orientation" and yet not explicitly asking for applicants to identify themselves.

mobo

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2005, 11:44:29 PM »
one way to approach the diversity essay might be to talk about how being gay has taught you lessons that you carry over in another part of your life. plus, schools consider diversity as more than just the check-boxes, so you can always work it is as part of all of the things that make you personally unique. it doesn't have to be the only point, or even the most important point, you make, but if the application gives you any additional chance to tell them more about yourself - take it. and definitely mention being gay - they will want to know what context it has in your life.

theredbaron

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2005, 12:11:05 AM »
You've offered some of the best advice I've gotten on LSD, mobo.  Thanks so much. 

Another question, if you don't mind --

How do you handle schools that do not specify "sexual orientation" in their list of topics for the diversity essay?  I guess I'm reading schools like Penn and Cornell, which do specify this, as being much more openly welcome of GLBTQ applicants, whereas schools that don't address sexual orientation in the essay prompt as perhaps being less willing to embrace this aspect of diversity.  (Of course this raises the question, do you really want to go to a school that doesn't welcome you?  But I am curious what you think concerning perhaps different ways to approach the statement for different schools.)

odaiko

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2005, 12:37:09 AM »
I wrestled with this question too, trb. I asked a lot of people--including current students at the schools to which I applied--what they thought about it, but I ultimately decided to come out to the same degree in all my applications. My (glib) decision was: if they have a problem with my sexuality, screw 'em! ;D

For what it's worth, the theme of my PS is that coming out is always an act of courage, and I discussed how the process of coming out--which I will continue to do for the rest of my life--has affected my work, my relationships, my outlook on life, etc. So I didn't really write about being gay, more about how one aspect of being gay has affected me and made me a stronger (and perhaps unique?) person. Not sure if this helps you or not. Good luck! Let us know what you decide to do.
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absy

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2005, 12:39:58 AM »
it's difficult to read too much into whether the application specifically mentions sexual orientation

coming from Duke UG, I know that sometimes when a school talks a lot about loving the LGBT students, it's for remedial purposes.  now at HLS (which I don't think mentioned sexual orientation), I've found the environment to be wonderful, accepting, and supportive

your best bet is talking to current students

SkullTatt

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Re: Sexual orientation/diversity essay?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2005, 01:40:04 AM »
My two cents...

(1) I don't see a conflict between checking the GLBT box and yet having not much more to say about it.

(2) I sent a diversity essay about being gay to every single school whether they asked for it or not. Frankly, I got sick of reading fine print, and decided that the ones that didn't want it could just ignore it. I have volunteer/community service experience with 6 GLBT groups over a span of many years, so I had a lot to say in my one-page essay. If you have nothing to say, perhaps don't write an extra essay on the subject.

Two more cents: I think that, even today, homosexuality is a polarizing issue, and I think being a gay activist (or even openly gay) may help you at some schools and hurt you at others. I think it can come down to the adcomm and/or the couple faculty members who end up reading your essay. Sucks but my guess is it's true.