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Hypomelanosis does not sound compicated to me!; UofM Diversity Essay

worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 16, 2009   #1
"We know that diversity makes us a better university -- better for learning, for teaching, and for conducting research."
(U-M President Mary Sue Coleman)
Share an experience through which you have gained respect for intellectual, social, or cultural differences. Comment on how your personal experiences and achievements would contribute to the diversity of the University of Michigan. (world limit = 250 words...currently at 300)

Hypomelanosis of Ito sounds like a complex thing to a child, but to me, it has always just been the disease that my cousin has. Growing up, I noticed no differences between the two of us. We were inseparable, always playing together and always interested in the same boy bands and Barbie dolls. It wasn't till I was older that I realized the complexities of her disease, as well as how much more serious it could have been. Hypomelanosis of Ito causes unusual patterns of de-pigmented skin and one side of the body to be smaller than the other; severe cases can cause mental retardation and seizures. I knew that Sarah had to buy different size shoes and that her face was shaped slightly different than most, but still, it didn't seem to affect her much. She is an excellent ballet dancer, receives good grades, and has plenty of friends.

As I've gotten older, I know that Sarah's condition has caused her many hardships. Other people don't see her like I do; other people notice instantly that she is different. She has had to have jaw surgery; all of her teeth removed and replaced with dental implants; and facial construction surgery, which included adding cheekbone and chin implants. Despite all this, Sarah can do just as much as the next person. Just because someone may be different and have some ailments or disadvantages doesn't mean they don't have the same capabilities as an average person. People are not defined by their misfortunes.

Most often, people associate diversity with ethnic background or socioeconomic status, but diversity isn't contained to these definitions. Diversity can include things like an illness, in my cousin's case, but it provides the same example as the more common ideas of diversity, like race or class. I have learned to be accepting of others because I know someone personally that is seen as different and has some shortcomings. Every person is different from the next, but how different are we when it comes to potential? As different as people may be, we are all capable of the same things.

PLEASE HELP me edit this...any suggestions for improvement?? This is a very rough draft and I know that it doesn't completely answer some aspects of the prompt. My main dilemma was not being able to think of an actual experience - I haven't been exposed to much diversity directly (even though I want to be because I think it's so important - one of the reasons I'm attracted to U of M). I didn't actually interact with any of the people in Chicago directly...I just enjoy observing different people. I don't really include how I will be able to CONTRIBUTE to the diversity of U of M because I don't know how! I'm also very crunched for time. Thank you!
Notoman 20 / 419  
Oct 16, 2009   #2
Every Labor Day weekend, my family takes a trip to Chicago, Illinois.

I know that you are a little over on your word count right now. You can tighten things up like this: Every Labor Day weekend, my family travels to Chicago. A savings of three words.

My mother requests a window seat at the Bistro 110 (a quaint French restaurant that my family attends by tradition), for the sole purpose of people-watching.

Mom requests window seating at the Bistro 110, a quaint French restaurant, for our traditional people watching. A savings of ten words. BUT ... I feel like you need more in my construction to describe the restaurant. Is it in downtown, on a busy street, what makes the people watching so good? You don't need to say my mother; we already know you are traveling with your family. The parenthesis are a little too informal here. You can keep the construction by using commas to offset your aside about the restaurant.

While I can be entertained observing the mannerisms, styles, and the like of oblivious passer-bys* anywhere, my favorite place to do this is in Chicago.

This sentence if a little bit clunky and the passive voice isn't as effective as the active voice would be. Try something like: Observing the mannerisms, styles, and like of oblivious people entertains me; Chicago is my favorite place to people watch. It is a savings of five words. At this rate, you will need to add words.

Each person that passes by is diverse from the next one, whether it is in age, race, style, or perceived attitude.

Diverse is a word that I see as applying to a group, to the plural. Members of a group can be diverse. The leader of the group cannot be diverse. How about: People that pass by are diverse from each other whether in age, race, style, or perceived attitude. Another savings of four words. Look at the kinds of words that I am omitting from your constructions--the auxiliary verbs, passive forms of verbs, and those little filler words (in, that). Consider your sentences and how you could rewrite each one to say the same thing in less words.

The mixture of human culture in a large city is a spectacle that has intrigued me from a very young age.

Again, changing the verbs and other words strengths the sentence. The mixture of human culture in a large city creates a spectacle that has always intrigued me.

I know that I am hammering away at your essay. The savings of words doesn't seem to amount to much, but they do add up. If you can omit two to three words per sentence, think of all the extra space you will have to say what is important. People think that with longer sentences, they are saying more, but in reality, if many of those words are "fluff," they are saying less. Use the limited word count to get in as much as you can to sell yourself. When you save a word, you are really earning a word that you can use later to your advantage.

I am going to quit here. You are a strong writer and I think that you are capable of working through this.

Here's a post that Sean wrote on verbs:

I think you will find his advice helpful.

Wishing you the best!
OP worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 16, 2009   #3
Thank you so much, Notoman! Very helpful. Yeah, I have issues with the passive/active voice and wordiness! I'll work on that.
Do you think the essay answers the prompt completely?(general question for anyone to answer)
I don't have any ideas on what else to write, especially since I'm already over the word limit.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 17, 2009   #4
What is the experience that you want to focus on? People watching in a restaurant in Chicago? Okay, then go into detail about this, and instead of spending the second half of the essay telling us that you are open-minded and like diversity, show us through your description of the experience. Also, you need to say specifically how this experience will allow you to contribute to the university. What you have now is too vague.

I wish I could be more specific, but it was *your* experience, and so you will have to be the one to come up with the fine details.
OP worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 17, 2009   #5
Thank you for the help. As I mentioned above, the reason why I struggled with this essay is because I don't HAVE an experience. I live in a small, sheltered community where 99% of people are white and middle-class. This is the reason that I want to go to a school, like U of M, with a lot of diversity. It's obviously possible to appreciate diversity without having a specific experience, because that's my situation. So, yes, I guess people watching is my experience. I was just trying to go for the contrast that would help explain. I don't know how this experience will contribute to the diversity of the university...I have no idea what to write, so it looks like I'm in trouble. :/
Notoman 20 / 419  
Oct 17, 2009   #6
I know what you mean. I live in a sheltered community as well. Hmmmm ... well, if it were me, I might be able to say something like this:

I see the man pushing a shopping cart containing everything he owns, the harried mother juggling her disheveled children and a grocery sack, the men nuzzling each other's necks, and the woman singing Broadway show tunes from a bygone era. I don't jump to judgment, but want to know more about these people--their histories, their lives, their aspirations. I appreciate the diversity of the city and how each person brings a different aspect of humanity to the mix. I grew up in a sheltered, homogeneous community with three-car garages and six-foot privacy fences. Although the people are not exactly alike, they strive be.

I am applying to the Berklee College of Music not only for the high quality of instruction, but for the diversity Berklee offers. The compilation of musicians from different countries and varying backgrounds all working together excites and inspires me. While my middle-class upbringing has limited my exposure to other cultures, I have an artist's sensibility when it comes to new experiences. I bring an open heart and an open mind to Berklee.
OP worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 18, 2009   #7
Notoman, that is actually very helpful...I was thinking of starting all over (which would be a pain) and talking about my cousin/best friend's disease which causes her to have different physical features, and how it's made me be more accepting of others and realize that people with problems don't have to have limits. Anyways, I'm thinking of sticking with the original Chicago idea thanks to your advice because I think I know how to make it fit the prompt better.

Also, I noticed that you edited a different essay of mine and you seem to be very helpful and know a lot about admissions essays, so I was wondering if you could give me some insight on my current dilemma of deciding on a topic for the major essay

I would really appreciate it! Thanks!
Notoman 20 / 419  
Oct 18, 2009   #8
Why thank you Hannah. I commented on your other post. Ironically, I don't have to write essay for *any* of the colleges I am applying to. I am living vicariously through the rest of you.

Best of luck!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Oct 19, 2009   #9
I live in a small, sheltered community where 99% of people are white and middle-class

Are you saying that all white and middle class people are exactly the same? That there is no diversity in age, sex, political values, religious views, etc. How wonderful -- you've finally found a group that is completely stereotypical. You must be so pleased. Also, what about the other 1%? Or have you studiously ignored them? Perhaps you could expand your concept of diversity, and use it to include differences in ways of thinking, instead of just differences in skin color (which, after all, are well-known to be superficial and meaningless, yes?) or socio-economic status (which is at least somewhat mutable). Perchance diversity is a state of mind?
Notoman 20 / 419  
Oct 19, 2009   #10
Good points Sean! It helps me to see my community in a different light. There is not a lot of diversity around here--even in political views, socioeconomic status, or values--but your thoughts open up valuable approaches to the diversity question.
OP worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 20, 2009   #11
Yeah, I definitely only consider diversity in terms of skin color... Obviously not every person is alike. Are you saying then, that ALL areas are diverse, without varying amounts? I understand your thinking, but I'm not sure it really applies to my essay topic. Also, I haven't studiously ignored the other 1%...my whole point was that I'd like to see that 1% be a large percent.
lalala123 1 / 2  
Oct 20, 2009   #12
This essay does not answer the essay prompt of how you have GAINED respect for your culture. Though it is a nicely written essay
OP worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 20, 2009   #13
Hmm why am I struggling with this essay so much? Thanks to all who helped.
Maira - / 2  
Oct 25, 2009   #14
Hey Notoman
Is there a way to contact you by email. I wanted to get in touch with you. I needed some help with an essay that I cannot post here(its for an admission and I have come to know that the school really prohibits students from posting their essays on public forums). I would really really appreciate if you could get in touch with me. My email address is k.maira17@gmail.com. Or if you give me your email I will mail you.


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