How to Write Duke’s Optional Diversity and Inclusion Essay
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Robert Crystal in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Duke University has one required essay and one optional essay that allows you to choose between four prompts (a maximum of two can be chosen). The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion prompt reads as follows:
“Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. If you’d like to share with us more about your identity in this context, feel free to do so here. (250 words)”
Highlight Your Identity
Duke places a particular emphasis on creating an inclusive campus where students feel empowered to embrace their individual identities and all the unique elements that make them who they are.
Your approach to this prompt should be specific to your perspectives and experiences related to your sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
For example, students who are LGBTQ+ can talk about how sexuality is an important or defining facet of their life. Perhaps your sexuality has recently caused you to question how you perceive the world, and maybe you want to expound upon the nature of how that has developed over time. This essay would be the perfect place for that.
Make sure whichever topic you choose, you discuss it confidently and thoroughly explain why it applies to you.
Discuss How Diversity Shaped Your Experiences
Thinking about everything that has shaped you into who you are at this point in life, what have you learned and how have you grown? Think about specific moments in your life where your identities were most salient to you. Maybe you have developed a deeper sense of empathy as part of your journey with your sexual or gender identity, or maybe your academic interests have been influenced by these experiences.
Regardless of how you choose to approach this topic, your essay should still incorporate deep, thorough reflections. Discuss how the topic folds into your overall identity, complements your passions, influences your perspective, and impacts your values.
It is okay—and totally normal—to not have your identity completely figured out. Maybe you’re just beginning to explore elements of these identities. You may be processing what they mean for you and how to approach the world around you. Even if you have more questions than answers, feel free to reflect on these. Expressing these questions demonstrates your curiosity, maturity, capacity for self-reflection, and ability to evaluate a situation. If you choose to take this approach, do be careful not to incorporate too many rhetorical questions.
Keep Your Conclusion Strong
Ultimately, you want to finish your response to this prompt in a way that feels conclusive, even if the conclusion is that you are still learning. On the topic of diversity, there is always more to be considered and ways to further your education and experiences. Try to keep that in mind as you wrap up your essay, but make sure your conclusion is significant enough to end your response.