How to Write the Princeton Diversity Essay
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Yesh Datar in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Princeton University asks its applicants to reply to one of two options for its supplemental essay. The prompt for option 1 asks:
“At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? (250 words)”
In this article, we will discuss how to approach the diversity prompt in a way that keeps your reader engaged. If you are interested in reading about other Princeton essays, read our post of tips on how to write the Princeton University essays for 2022-2023.
Breaking Down the Prompt
The first step to writing this essay is to figure out which conversation you want to talk about. Only after that can you explain what helped you discuss a difficult topic respectfully and learn from the experience. This is a serious topic about which you should spend a lot of time brainstorming. You want to make sure to pick an event that showcases you in the best way possible and also answers the prompt.
This could be something related to an issue in your community, or maybe even religion. There are a lot of difficult conversations happening right now around gender and sexuality, so you could also pick a topic in that realm. Whatever topic you end up choosing, make sure it showcases the unique perspective that makes you a diverse individual that will be a positive addition to Princeton’s campus.
While answering this prompt, you want to highlight what makes you unique. Diversity can be a lot of things, it doesn’t only mean gender, sexuality, or ethnicity. Diversity can come from your hobbies, interests, or views on life.
As Princeton mentions in the prompt, they want students to bring a unique and diverse perspective to the Princeton community, so tell them how you will do that. It can be tempting to simply retell the events of the conversation that you are writing about but, remember, it is equally important to talk about the insight you gained from this difficult conversation. Overall, Princeton wants to understand how you approach and learn from difficult situations.
When you are writing, make sure to show your growth as a person and the progression of your ideas throughout the experience. Include these insights throughout your writing―don’t just include a sentence or two at the end of your essay about what you learned. You want to break down your thought process at every point in the difficult conversation you had. This will help your reader follow along better and feel more connected to your story. By weaving growth and development throughout your essay, it becomes more believable.
When people read about a difficult conversation, it is natural for them to come up with their own opinions and ideas. This is what the admissions officers will be doing while they read over your topic. By sharing your own thoughts and opinions, you are bringing the admissions officer into your world and having a conversation with them. This is the best way to keep your readers engaged.
Connecting Your Topic to Princeton
At the end of your essay, you want to have expressed how, going forward, your experience having―and learning from―difficult conversations will help you during your time at Princeton. You want to talk about how you will apply what you learned and how you will act as a Princeton student.
As mentioned in the prompt, Princeton values diversity, so there are going to be students from all different backgrounds on campus. Ultimately, this will lead to some difficult discussions inside and outside the classroom as no two students will share the same point of view. Princeton wants to make sure the students they admit will not only be able to handle these difficult conversations respectfully, approaching them with an open mind, but also that they will add to them in a way that fosters growth for all students.