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Mission Admission: The “Optional” Essay

Mission Admission is a series of JD admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

Last week, we discussed writing an effective personal statement. This week we discuss the “optional” diversity essay.  Many law schools ask you to write a diversity essay about how you will add variety to the incoming class. This third type of essay question is one that you should definitely take the opportunity to answer and should of course strive to do so convincingly. You can always find something about yourself that will set you apart from others in your law school class and convince the admissions committee that you would be a welcome addition. This essay is usually shorter than the free-form essay and the personal statement. A few full paragraphs should be enough to make your argument. The importance of highlighting your distinctiveness to an admissions committee has been recently echoed by two elite law schools:

“[Putting together an entering class is] like organizing a choir; we want 270 distinct voices. There are hundreds of similar applicants, but only one of you; so take the opportunity … to let us hear your voice.”

– Edward Tom, Dean of Admissions at UC Berkeley School of Law

“It’s important to us as an institution to have a variety of viewpoints represented in order to foster robust and challenging classroom discussion—to this end, we’re very interested in having ideological diversity in each class.”

– Asha Rangappa, Dean of Admissions at Yale School of Law

Your ability to differentiate is everything!

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