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.


Economic Factors

The difference between being rich and being poor is more than one of money; it is one of world view, as well.  Wealthy people assume that opportunities exist; poor people assume that they don't.  In large families, older children are expected to take on a large share of the household and child-rearing tasks -- unless the family can afford a nanny or a housekeeper.

Even middle-class families can vary from the expected norm.  If the absence of one or both parents from the home placed an unusual amount of responsibility on you, make sure the law school knows this.  It indicates a level of maturity and responsibility many students have not attained.  It may also help explain lower grades for a semester or throughout college. The value of this extra maturity may be two or three index points.  For admissions officers who evaluate grades and LSAT scores separately, family responsibility is seen as a justification for lower grades, but not lower LSAT scores.

"I'm Not Rich"

When I discuss socioeconomic factors with prospective clients, the most common comment is, "We weren't poor, but we weren't rich either."  

I've got news for you, people:  you're wrong!  Here's what the U.S. Census Bureau says about income:

Half the people in the U.S. make less than $45,000 per family.  If your family makes $105,000, your income is in the top 10% of all families in the U.S.  If your family makes that much money and you think you're not rich, you're only looking at the people who make more money than your family.  

Social Factors

The importance of socioeconomic variables is not defined exclusively by money.  As the "socio" part of "socioeconomic" implies, class is an element in the equation. The child of a famous athlete may not take college grades very seriously; after all, Dad wasn't Phi Beta Kappa, and he's rich.  Parents who are plumbers or policemen may not see the need for college at all; they make good money without having gone.  Children in these families may see college itself as the goal, and not understand the need for good grades.

People's expectations are formed by their peers, as well as by their families. If the guys in your neighborhood all grew up to be blue-collar workers and the women to be secretaries or homemakers, you had relatively little stimulus to pursue a college or professional degree. This may not seem like a major factor in your development, but it's a lot harder to stay home and study when all your friends are going out to play; that's as true when you're twenty as it was when you were twelve.

Socioeconomic Plus Demographic

In certain parts of the country, jobs are so scarce and so limited in scope that virtually no opportunities exist.  Residents of Appalachia, as well as folks from East Los Angeles, may find that the combination of poverty and lack of opportunity can be worth up to 6 index points -- so long as you make sure the admissions officer sees the background from which you came. Use your diversity statement to paint a picture of the place where you grew up, as well as of your family's circumstances. If the application doesn't allow for a diversity statement, make sure you include this information in your personal statement.  You can also include it in answer to a question about lower grades.  


Many law schools will consider economic disadvantage in evaluating a file.  They'll ask how many hours you worked during college, your parents' occupations, etc.  In addition, the Council on Legal Education Opportunities offers summer head start programs for folks whose background has so disadvantaged them that their gpa or LSAT score is a real risk.  For information from me about CLEO and its summer institutes, click here. To go directly to the CLEO Summer Institute web site, click here.

Too Poor to Pay Tuition

An interesting item showed up in my in-box a while back. The question from a prelaw advisor was, "How do you feel about students who cannot get a transcript because they have not paid their tuition?" The answer was,

" A red flag goes up for us when we receive from LSDAS a report that says "transcript unavailable due to outstanding financial obligation." This person would not be able to get loans for law school, first of all, and it's awfully risky to admit someone who may be averse to paying their tuition!

Mostly, though, it's because the student needs to take care of his or her prior financial considerations before taking on additional debt. Just as we do not provide transcripts on behalf of a student who owes money to our University, we would not aid a student who wants to circumvent another school's attempts to receive payment for outstanding debts."

So if you have any unpaid transcripts out there, I advise you to get them taken care of before you apply. At least one law school is going to put your file on the back burner until all your bills are paid.

Too Poor to Apply to Law School

Economic disadvantage usually refers to your family's finances when you were growing up; however, many applicants are still in those circumstances.  Law Services has made arrangements for severely impoverished applicants to get many services at no charge.  

Fee waivers are available for the LSAT as well as for application fees. You can get a fee waiver from a law school, not from your undergraduate institution. If there is a law school locally, make an appointment with the admissions officer, bring them the letter in support of your request, and ask them for a waiver letter. If there is no local law school, you can get a fee waiver from Law Services. Fee waiver information is also available on-line.  




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