We often hear that law schools seek a “diverse” student body, but exactly what does that mean? And why is it important for prelaw students to know?
First, let’s begin with what “diversity” does not mean to law schools. The meaning of “diversity” is not limited to what often comes to mind: i.e., diversity of race, sex and national origin. While those factors may be considered by law schools, their definition of “diversity” goes well beyond those criteria. Here are just a few things law schools consider in their quest to have a diverse law school student body:
- Diversity of life experiences.
- Diversity of academic experiences.
- Diversity of political beliefs.
- Diversity of undergraduate universities.
- Diversity of undergraduate majors.
- Diversity of accomplishments.
- Diversity of attitudes towards major governmental policies.
- Diversity of cultural influences.
- Diversity of geographic regions (e.g., West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, Deep South, etc.).
- Diversity of future work goals.
The above list is obviously far from complete. The point is to remind you that you should not consider yourself failing to add to a law school’s “diverse” mix of students simply because you have never considered yourself to be a “minority.” Think about what unique aspects you, as a person (not simply as a member of a certain race, gender, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation), would bring to the law school. When you begin asking yourself the right questions, you will be amazed how broad and expansive the term “diversity” becomes.
Learning to recognize and appreciate a student’s “diverse” attributes is one of the things I routinely do when helping students prepare their personal statements. Remember, you are a unique individual who will bring things to a law school that others won’t. The key is being able to recognize your “diverse” factors, and learning how to effectively communicate them to law schools.