Diversity & Inclusion in College Admissions: Strategies for Highlighting Your Unique Perspective

Are you a student with a unique background or perspective, but unsure of how to showcase your diversity in your college application? Get the inside scoop during CollegeAdvisor.com’s upcoming webinar, “Diversity & Inclusion in College Admissions: Strategies for Highlighting Your Unique Perspective”!

This webinar will provide valuable insights into how to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate, with a focus on your unique experiences and contributions. You’ll learn how to effectively highlight your diverse background and perspective in your application, and how to craft compelling essays and personal statements that stand out to admissions officers.

In this webinar, you will:

  • Learn what admissions officers are looking for in terms of diversity and inclusion
  • Discover strategies for showcasing your unique background and perspective in your application
  • Gain insight into how to write effective essays and personal statements that highlight your experiences and contributions
  • Learn about common pitfalls to avoid when discussing diversity in your application
  • Get your questions answered by experts who have experience in admissions and diversity & inclusion

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to present your unique perspective in your college application! Register now to secure your spot and get started on your college journey.

Date 04/10/2023
Duration 57:37

Webinar Transcription

2023-04-10 – Diversity & Inclusion in College Admissions: Strategies for Highlighting Your Unique Perspective

Hello. Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisors Webinar, diversity and Inclusion in College Admissions Strategies for Highlighting Your Unique Perspective. To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’re gonna first start with a presentation and then we’re gonna answer your questions in the live Q&A on the sidebar.

You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions now in the Q&A tab. So let’s go ahead and meet our panelists.

Hi everyone. My name is Anissa. I am a current senior advisor here at collegeadvisor.com. I have been with CollegeAdvisor.com for just a couple of months since the beginning of 2023, but I have been college advising for over seven years now. I started off with the College advising core in AmeriCorps program in Boston, Massachusetts.

I eventually went on to work in the Boston Public School districts as a student support specialist and equity coordinator. And currently I’m living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I spend my full-time work as a racial equity consultant and have been really happy to re-engage with young people on the college application process through CollegeAdvisor.com.

Hi everybody. Thank you Anissa. So before we get started, we’re gonna go first with a poll because we wanna get a sense of what grade you are in. So please let us know. I’m familiar with College advising Core. That’s really awesome. So you were doing college advising through that program. Right? That’s great.

Love it. Love it, love it. Okay, so I see the responses are starting to come in. I’m gonna give it one more second. Okay, here they go. So we have 67% of our audiences in the 11th grade, and then we also have a few 10th grade students as well as eighth grade students. So really exciting to see middle school representation in our presentation.

Never too early to start learning about. The college admission process, especially as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion. So, Anissa, I will now turn it over to you to kick us off in your presentation. Great. Thanks Lonnie. All right folks. So to start off would just love to share a little bit about what role diversity and inclusion plays in the admissions process.

You might have heard this acronym that’s kind of in the zeitgeist that’s up and coming now, DEI. That stands for diversity, equity and inclusion. And this is sort of a, a way of looking at the world to ensure that all people have the full access to resources to navigate the world as they see fit. And with adopting a DEI framework and approach specifically to college admission.

This is really used as a way to ensure that folks and students from underrepresented, historically marginalized groups across the country and across background and experience have access to higher education and really have the ability, the access and the resources to study what they want, where they want.

A little history that earliest higher education institutions starting in the 16 hundreds were founded specifically for the intellectual advancement of wealthy white men. Women, people who are negatively racialized, people with disability and people from across historically marginalized groups were long excluded.

And some of those exclusionary practices kind of trickle down into college admissions today. So when we specifically talk about inclusion in the college admissions process, this is really something. The college is really working on creating an experience, creating resources, and again, opportunities to ensure that all students, regardless of background or identity, feel a sense of belonging at the institution that they’re in, and feel supported in achieving their personal or academic goals.

When we talk about diversity the role that diversity plays in sort of the, not just the college admissions, but the college experience is really recognizing that college campuses present opportunities to think critically, to grow and expand your personal and professional horizons. And college for many folks is the first time where they’re in an environment with people that are vastly different from them.

For me, I went to college all the way across the country. I graduated from high school in Las Vegas on the west coast, and then I went to Medford, Massachusetts, right out of Boston to Tufts University. So for me It was a whole new environment. First of all, I had to navigate winters. I was meeting a lot of people that had more of a, an east coast culture, and I’m from like the laid back West coast.

It’s always sunny. It’s always cool. And so being exposed to people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, religious backgrounds, people with all different ways of engaging with the world and thinking about the world. That really opened my eyes to, to really understand just how different people can be and to really focus on how we can find common ground across a variety of differences.

So having a diverse campus, having folks from a variety of backgrounds and identities is really vital to that higher education experience.

So I wanted to take some time to kinda outline some of the barriers, the systemic barriers that students might face in attending higher education. Again, diversity, equity and inclusion really exist to create opportunities for everyone to thrive. A lot of this starts off, you know, where we grew up and where we went to school.

For those of you that might not know schools are funded based on property taxes and home ownership. So if you live in a community that is well resourced, has folks whom a variety. Of different socioeconomic backgrounds, you are likely to have more resources available to you, more support systems, more opportunities available to you than if you live in an under-resourced community.

So colleges really want to understand what not just the amazing positive things that are going on in your life, but what are some of the challenges you’ve had to really overcome? College is becoming more and more expensive every year and for folks that have, may not have had the opportunity to save money for college or may not have family that are able to support them in college the, the opportunity gap can really exist between and limiting folks’ opportunities and where they can attend college. And universities that really value diversity, equity, and inclusion are ones that really work to disband some of these systemic inequities and create more opportunities for students.

So how would I define diversity and inclusion? So I’m a racial equity practitioner. This little graphic here on the side we call the dimensions of diversity is a tool I use really often, and I made one specifically speaking to the potential identities that students may carry. Our applicants may.

Diversity represents the range of human differences that people experience and identities that they navigate the world with. Oftentimes, you might hear diversity as a code for race, but it is so much more expansive than that. Looking at the dimensions of diversity wheel, you start off in that inner circle, that bullseye with your personality, who you are and how you navigate the world.

On the inner circle are some identities that can really impact who a person is and how they navigate the world. These are things that may be considered protected classes. These are identities that we hold that can really shape not just the way we see ourselves, but the way others in society see us.

In the middle ring, the nice little lilac color. We have some external dimensions of diversity, which are things that may shift over time. There are things that you may grow into or grow out of that can also really impact how you show up in the world and how you make sense of the world and the people and environments around.

Looking at some of these organizational dimensions of diversity, these are things that can really impact your academic experience. And we know that college is a 24 hour experience. It’s not just about the classes you take especially if you’re living on campus. It’s about what you do to study, where you like to have fun where you like to Eat and things like that.

So these dimensions of diversity are just some examples of identities you might carry that really shape who you are. And a part of really showcasing your unique perspective and diverse experiences is to really consider what are the things that make you unique? What are the things that have really shaped you know, who you are and who you strive to be in the world?

Looking at inclusion again, this is something that is really part of the role of the colleges and universities you are attending or applying to. This refers to the intentional and ongoing effect to ensure. That diverse individuals are able to fully participate in all aspects of campus culture.

It really also refers to the way that diverse participants, applicants students are really valued and respected members of an organization or community. I like this little quote here, or this little shorthand version of diversity is really being invited to the party. Inclusion is being engaged at the party, being asked to dance and belonging.

Is is feeling comfortable, feeling like you can dance, like no one’s watching. Feeling like you’re actively a part of a supportive and inclusive culture, and those are experiences colleges are really hoping to provide students.

So a little bit about my personal experience with diversity and inclusion. I sorted this into two categories, sort of in experience and really in practice because through my college experience, I really found a lot of passion and a lot of curiosity toward understanding how to live in a world that has systemic inequities.

How to navigate a society that might not have been built with the resources for everyone to thrive equally. So as a college applicant in way back in 2013 I identify as a mixed race Black woman. I am also a transracial adoptee. I was adopted quite old. I was adopted in middle school. I am formally unhoused through much of middle school and high school.

I did not have stable housing, and that really impacted the, my gpa, my classes, and really just how much I was able to really focus and dedicate time to my academics before being adopted. I came from a very low income family and I also identify as neurodiverse, which is really speaking to the experience of having any type of learning accommodations or recognizing that the way you take in and process information might be very different than the way.

People in neuro people, neurotypical people navigate the world. I have ADHD, which means my brain is moving a million miles a minute and I either can really, really focus in on something or I can’t focus on anything, which again, is something that really has impacted how I navigate school and how I really engaged in learning.

At times, there is a lot of through these different identities that I carried a lot of barriers. I had a very non-traditional upbringing and it was really important for me to, to talk about those things, to highlight those things, to, to show the colleges that, you know, I am someone that. Needed a lot of resources.

I need a lot of support to navigate higher ed specifically at a very rigorous institution like Tufts University. All of these things shaped who I am and they shaped the way I navigated the world in the years leading up to the college application process. And I really wanted to, to show the different aspects of my authentic self.

And part of that authenticity was really being able to, to name and acknowledge this is who I am and this is where I come from, and I might have experiences. The majority of students is on a college. The majority of students on a college campus might not have had to experience. I have, there’s different barriers and obstacles I’ve had to overcome.

So that was a really important part of, of my application is making sure college is new where I came from and the, the major things that impacted how I approached school, how I performed in school, and how I was able to navigate the, the world at that time. So I went to college with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do.

I did not declare a major until the end of my second year of college. So throughout time I was just taking a lot of different classes, trying to figure out, you know, what stuck out to me, what was really interesting and. Based on my experiences of being underrepresented, being marginalized, experiencing various types of discrimination I, I really wanted to, as people say become the person I didn’t have growing up.

And I became really interested in the experiences of other people who have systemic barriers to overcome, to other people that looked like me, had similar identities as me. That again, were, were raced to exist in a world that wasn’t built for us to thrive in. And so, The classes that really stuck out to me were were sociology classes, and as I worked through my sociology major, I specifically began to focus on urban sociology, which is the, the study of people, populations, and environments.

And as we would say, urban America. Big cities hounds living in apartment buildings, you know, living in Boston, Massachusetts. Understanding the layout of the city, where different groups of people lived, how different people navigated the the public transportation in Boston and things like that.

That was really interesting to me and that’s what I became really curious about in college. Some of my major values that came out of that were, were fighting for and advocating for equity and inclusion for all people. Really focusing on justice which is really the practice of dismantling systems of inequality and creating equal opportunities for everyone.

And of course, liberation, which is to me being able to, to create. Develop new societies, new experiences where everybody has what they need to reach their full potential in life. After my time in the College Advising Corps where I did a lot of college advising work, and I also did a lot of research on students from underrepresented backgrounds and specifically the obstacles and barriers they might experience in attending college, much less the college of their.

So a lot of my college advising work turned into racial justice practitioner work, where I really focus on the, the intersections of race, class, gender, religion, sexuality, to better understand what types of support, what types of resource and opportunities people in society need to thrive. A huge part of this work for me involves what I call radical empathy, which is being able to really understand other people’s perspectives and really take the time to hear from folks, believe their experiences, and partner with them to either listen brainstorm.

Build goals or kind of move to action to really support living their best lives. So diversity and inclusion for me started off as recognizing that I was someone that likely had a lot of experiences that many college students didn’t. And likely as a result needed some, some formal support from the institutions I was looking at.

And through those experiences of perhaps feeling like an outsider, Feeling like I didn’t belong at the super amazing college I went to. I really channeled that into my professional practice and working to improve the experiences of students across all backgrounds.

So what does diversity look like for college admissions officers? The word diversity, again, I talked earlier that it sometimes is a code for race. There are some specific historically underrepresented groups that are considered diverse applicants. First I’m gonna talk about students that are covered under the protected class, which means that there’s federal laws that prohibit the discrimination of people that limit the discrimination of people seeking education at a higher ed institution that uses federal funding and so discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin.

Sex, disability, or age is federally prohibited. So colleges must take an intentional look at who their student population is and identify trends to recognize, you know, are there students that we’re missing out on? Are there students whose experiences are not well represented? And what might be some of the barriers we’ve put in place to.

Not support those students or not have ma as many of those students apply or excel in our school. Some other historically underrepresented groups that might be considered diverse applicants on a college application. This is not all inclusive by any means. There’s identities that I’ve likely missed out on.

We have students with disabilities, students of color, or students that have been negatively, negatively, racialized, first generation students who are the first in their family to attend college. Low income student. Nontraditional students, which may be students that are attending college. Outside the traditional ages of like 18 to 21, we have children of immigrants and refugees, members of the LGBTQIAA+ community students that might have been in or experienced the foster care system.

This can refer to formally incarcerated students, veterans, and women.

So again, diversity is really speaking to the, the range of unique experiences and perspectives that you carry. And colleges really value having a diverse and inclusive campus where people can share ideas. Perspectives, beliefs and thoughts that can really lead to community growth. And again, expanding somebody’s horizon, expanding somebody’s understanding of the experiences and opportunities that exist in our society.

Diversity can also really look like the intentional recruitment of students that have historically been underrepresented in colleges and universities. And this can really vary across institution.

So again, what does diversity look like in CO for college admissions officers? A huge part of diversity, as I’ve mentioned, is your unique perspective. Colleges wanna know who you are as an individual, what makes you stand out against thousands of other applicants, and they’re really looking. What are you going to bring to their campus?

What ideas, what aspects of culture, what ways of being are you going to bring and contribute to the campus culture and the overall environment at the institution you’re studying in? Dive, or excuse me colleges and universities. Oftentimes use the approach of a holistic review, which means it’s not just about the grades, the test scores, the letters of recommendation.

It’s also about highlighting. Who you are and wanting to know the, the whole student. What are the things you’re doing outside of extra outside of school? What are the extracurriculars that may not be tied to a specific organization, but things that take up a lot of your time? For me, growing up, I spent a lot of time babysitting and caring for my younger siblings.

And that wasn’t something that was, you know challenging my academic pursuits, but it’s realistically what I had to do to support my family at the time. And I wanted colleges to know that there are there were reasons that I, I couldn’t always be involved in a 10 different extracurriculars or, or have the time to participate in pre-college programs and things like that.

The holistic review of applications is really to build an understanding of the whole student, not just who colleges think will excel academically, but a person who colleges will know, will excel socio-emotionally will really excel in working across differences and working alongside peers and really being a, an asset to the campus culture.

So what can students do to reflect on their unique experiences? Here I’ve listed some just questions for consideration. It all the college admissions process and really lead the college essay process should really start with some self-reflection. Again, focusing on not just who you are, but how you came to be who you want to be in the future, and what kind of impact you’d like to have on the world.

Some questions that have really stood out to me in that I’ve kind of journaled around. If someone were to spend a day with you and those closest to you, what would they observe and experience a day with me and my loved ones. Absolutely includes multiple hours hanging out and cuddling with my two cats.

I’m 100% a cat mom. That’s all I talk about in my spare time. And that’s a, that’s a huge part of who I am and it might seem silly, but it would be important for me to share in the admissions process. Things like if someone else described you, what do you think they would? Do this, ask someone close to you to describe you, to share back to you what they, what they’ve gleaned from their experiences with you.

I am someone who is I’m always trying to make people smile. I’m always trying to cheer people up. I tend to be the friend that all my friends come to for advice. And, you know, I’ve always played kind of that, that caregiver role in the relationships that I’ve. Of course discussing what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced and what are the ways that you’ve worked to really overcome them.

Don’t be ashamed to to share the the really vulnerable aspects of your life, especially if they’ve had a huge impact on. The way you’ve navigated through school, the way you’ve navigated through your personal life. Colleges wanna hear about these things. They wanna know what’s taking up your time.

They wanna know what’s really impacting you, and they really wanna see that you have the, the drive, the motivation to, to really overcome the odds and to really challenge yourself. Another one I really like is when you’re telling your grandkids about your life, what do you want to tell them about?

I hope that one day my grandchildren gets to watch reruns of my future, you know, TV talk show. Like I wanna be the next, like Oprah or Ellen DeGeneres. And that is something that I, I worked toward in different ways, in various ways. It’s not my, my main focus in life, but it’s something that I really hope to achieve one day.

That’s kind of cool. So please take the time to review the slides to look at some of these additional questions for consideration. And again, find different ways to reflect.

Thank you Anissa. So we’re gonna take a short pause to do another poll. We wanna get a sense of where you are in the application process. So let us know. It actually doesn’t start when you are working on your application. The process actually starts earlier. So even you being in this presentation or even watching the recording is you starting in your application process.

So let us know. Okay, I see the responses coming in. So we have 63% that are currently in the research phase, so they’re researching schools. We have 20% working on their essays and 10% getting their application material together. So I’ll turn it over, back over to you, Anissa, and then just a reminder. We will be heading into our live Q&A.

So if there’s any questions that are coming up for you as you are hearing the presentation, feel free to go ahead and place them into our Q&A tab. Thank you.

All right. So I love seeing all the responses to the poll. A quick note when it comes to researching colleges, Don’t just research the, the top 25, most prestigious, most exciting schools. You’re gonna thrive at a school that is the right fit and match for you. You’re gonna thrive at a school that has the, the tailored resources that has the campus culture and environment.

That you feel comfortable and empowered to work in and succeed in? I definitely started off looking at you know, Harvard, Yale, MIT, and then after talking to different people in my life I realized that academics weren’t. The, the, the big part of college for me, it was, it was the experience of meeting new people, of trying new things of, you know, for the first time in my life being able to live on my own and make my own decisions.

And so I really started looking at colleges that had the type of campus that I wanted. I am not an early riser. I go through five alarms. Tufts has a campus that you can walk from top to bottom in 15 minutes, 10 minutes if you’re a quick walker like I am. So it was great to have a smaller campus environment.

It was great to have less than 5,000 students on campus so I could build stronger relationships with my professors where I had smaller classes. So there’s a lot of things to take into consideration about researching colleges and the goal should really be to find the college. Where you are going to excel, not the one that you think is going to look good in the future.

So how can students highlight their unique backgrounds and perspectives throughout their college applications? Again, we’re getting back to this holistic review. The thing that comes to mind, or the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of folks is the, the college essay and all of the supplemental essays.

This is your opportunity to express your personality ideas and your biggest passions. A a moment of bravery, and mostly because I was submitting at the last minute. In my final tough supplemental essay, I decided to go a little sarcastic. I had a one sentence response to an essay of up to 300.

And that sentence was, you know, I’ve already come to Boston and got the t-shirt from Harvard University and now I wanna come to Tufts to get an education. I was playing on the fact that like Tufts and Harvard are both really competitive schools in the Boston area, and I was saying that, you know, I wanted to be at Tufts.

A little bold. Not sure if that’s the thing that got me admitted into the school but it was really a way for me to showcase like a little bit of spun and a little bit of my personality. Letters of recommendation you will likely have to submit one to three letters of recommendation. Choose wisely.

Choose people who know you well, who can speak to your strengths, and something that was really important. For me was to have someone who could also really speak to a lot of the obstacles and barriers I’ve had to overcome. I had my school counselor really speaking to the fact that there were, you know, whole semesters that I wasn’t in school, but I remained on top of my academics.

They really talked about me experiencing housing instability. And the fact that I wasn’t always able to attend school or I didn’t always have the resources to complete my assignments as a result of that. So letters of recommendation can be spaces where you have someone else advocate or describe things that have happened in your life.

You don’t have to spend your college essay talking about all the things that, all the barriers you’ve achieved. If that’s what you want to highlight, that’s great, but you can always use the letter of recommendation to have someone else really speak to different things that have impacted your, your personal again, and academic development.

Activities and extracurriculars. There’s going to be a section on your college application that asks you to list all the things you’re involved in. This should not just be things that are related to school or academics. As I mentioned earlier I listed that I was a, a regular caregiver for my siblings and some of the elders in my family.

I talked about, you might choose to talk about if you have a part-time job, if you have a a personal passion that you invest a lot of time in, whether that’s gardening or creating herbal teas or you know, writing anime fan fiction. You’re a creative writer. You spend time indulging in your passions and colleges.

Wanna see all of those. When it comes to activities and extracurriculars, don’t limit yourself to what you think colleges are looking for. Be sure to add the things that, again, are really taking up your time, both in and outside of school, and the things that are, speak to the amount of time you have to dedicate to extracurriculars and other academic pursuits.

This last one here is an alumni interview. Not all colleges will offer alumni interviews, and they’re 100% an optional part of the college application process. I had the opportunity to interview before I applied to Tufts and it. Just having a conversation with somebody about their Tufts experience, about what I could look forward to.

And here I was really able to talk about the types of things I wanted to explore in college. Really talk about what I wanted to learn and what kind of You know, classes I wanted to take, this really gave me some insight into what the campus had to offer, and it gave me an opportunity to talk to someone else and say, Hey, do you think Tufts is a good fit for me?

If these are the things I value, if these are the things I’m looking to do and engage in, do you think this campus is the best place for me to.

So some quick strategies on highlighting your unique perspectives in college applications. Write authentically and true to who you are. Don’t minimize your perspective to use language or ideas that you may think colleges like to hear, particularly on the college essay. Don’t look up thesaurus for everything.

Don’t try to find fancy synonyms. I once worked with the student who described. Being in a or witnessing a fight as engaging in a round of fisticuffs people don’t use that in common language. That is something that a college admissions officer might look at and say, Hmm, is this how they actually talk?

And if that is how you talk, Great. Go for it. Do it. When you’re talking about challenges or barriers you’ve faced really focus on how you’ve overcome them. Don’t spend time just kind of describing them. Really focus on how you’ve overcome them, what you’ve learned, and how these things have shaped you.

Highlight the different aspects of your life that really most impacted your personal academic environments and achievements. Don’t only focus on the positive things again that you might think colleges wanna hear college. Don’t want the perfect student. There is no such thing as the perfect student.

Colleges really want the opportunity to invite and create a campus culture that speaks to a diversity of experiences Again. And the last thing I would recommend is paint a picture. Not just who you are, but of who you want to be in the future and in the support you’ll need to fulfill that state of being.

Again, it is really important to, to advocate for yourself, to really consider what are the things you need to thrive and what type of college environment is really going to stimulate you and feel engaged. And help you gain a strong sense of belonging. Colleges wanna know that you are reflective, that you are well developed and you have some consideration of the future.

Doesn’t mean you have to know what you wanna major in. Doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you wanna do in life, but they wanna know that you’ve at least begun to consider and reflect on how you engage with the world and how you would engage with others on a college campus.

All right. This is my last piece of advice for you all tonight. Please, please, please do not internalize admissions decisions as a reflection of your self worth. Colleges have to make really difficult decisions. And again, amongst thousands of applicants, there could be a million different things that could have impacted your application, but that’s not a reflection of you as an individual.

It’s a reflection of perhaps some of the limitations of the college or university. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful. It doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna have. An amazing college experience simply means that your experience might not be or might not start at that institution. Always consider it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

So if you are really passionate about a school and you don’t get into it right away, consider transferring. Consider looking into other ways to engage with the university or do research with the university there. Different ways to to, to navigate the, the undergraduate experience. And we really, really, I really, really wanna emphasize that you, who you are as an individual, the, the right people, the right institutions, the right connections, they’re gonna see you and they’re going to be there to support you and are truly able to provide you the resources to thrive.

Thank you. Thank you. What a great, great presentation, Anissa. Thank you so much for sharing. So now we’re gonna move into our live question and answer. So how it is gonna work, I will read the questions that you submitted in the Q&A tab, and then I will paste them into the public chat so that you can see.

Then read them out loud before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads. If your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you’ve joined the webinar through the custom leaking your email, and not from the webinar landing page. Okay, so we’re gonna jump into questions and answers.

So one question that was submitted through our registration was, you know, what, you know, what, what suggestions do you have around what suggestions, scholarships.

Yeah, scholarships are a big deal in affording college these days. First of all, when it comes to researching scholarships, I would say research scholarships that play off of the things you like to do. The passions. Again, if you’re a creative writer, seek out creative writing based scholar. If you are someone that’s been involved in something like the National Honor Society or a Best Buddies Club or an entrepreneurial club look at scholarships that really are based around students that excel and thrive in those areas.

If you have done a lot of community service work or civic engagement work, work at different, or look at different community-based organizations that might be supporting students attending colleges also, Going back to that that wheel or those dimensions of diversity, think about the different identities that you carry and look for scholarships that might support people with those specific identities.

For me, as a Black woman, I applied to a lot of scholarships that were specifically for helping low income students of color achieve financial. I did a lot of researching around. Scholarships specifically for women. I looked at scholarships for people with ADHD and I also think there are scholarships that have all different ways of applying.

It’s not always just an essay. There are scholarships that will allow you do video submissions, to write a poem, to create a different piece to share. So also look for scholarships that allow you to apply and showcase who you are. In a way that is really exciting for you.

Okay, thank you. The next question is how can I start in high school working within diversity and inclusion on my campus? Like any suggestions? Can you repeat that? Yeah, so just kind of thinking of just the work around diversity and in inclusion, you know, how can I start just within my own high school, you know, working towards, you know, supporting diversity and inclusion on my high school campus.

Mm-hmm. Ah, I love that question. First and foremost talk to your peers. Figure out what are the, the pressing issues of, of the young Gen Z folks today. Really think about what you’re passionate about. Things that you might challenge the status quo about, whether it’s environmental activism, whether it’s racial justice, whether it’s advocating for specific policies or practices really consider what, what makes you passionate, what is something you’d really like to advocate for and find like-minded people. I think a lot of high schools allow you to create specific clubs and things like that. I worked at a high school where I was the advisor for the founding Black Student Union.

There are Black student unions across all college and high school campuses, and it was the first time at my school and it was because a group of Black students decided they wanted a space to really focus on what it meant to be a Black student in the school. You can create an Asian American student union, you can create a Latino student union.

There are so many different ways that you can really. Create opportunities by talking to different teachers, talking to your counselor. But DEI, for me is really rooted in trying to build a stronger, more inclusive society. So if there are things at school, That, that you think are obstacles or barriers, things at school that you think are disparately impacting different people?

Use your voice to talk about it. Whether it’s with peers, whether it’s with teachers or counselors. Find different ways to use your voice and find different ways to, to advocate for who you are.

Thank you. Thank you. So we’re gonna take a just short pause from our live Q&A, so we do still have time, so feel free to break your questions in. But I wanna share with you all more about CollegeAdvisors, so we know how competitive the process can be especially, or just even overwhelming, especially for competitive applicants like yourself.

Our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate all in one-on-one advising sessions. Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation. Using the QR code on the screen. During the consultation, a member of our team will review your current extracurricular list, discuss how it lines up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership.

After getting the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member of our team. Okay, so now we’re gonna continue with our questions and answers. So our next question reads are college admission officers tired of seeing the first sentence of an essay be “as a Black female slash male.”

Do you have any other sentence starter ideas for essays that center around race? And so that can be inclusive of different races. If you just say as, and then you insert. And gender? Yes. Okay. I heard this once from some admissions officers I was working with. And it was saying, they were saying that the average college application, like all components are read in seven minutes or less.

So that first sentence of your essay, it has to be something that’s gonna incite excite them, invigorate them, like they just want to read the rest of that essay. Colleges will know. They will know your racial background. They will know where you’re from. They will know your gender. Those are all some like, background questions that are asked, so don’t take the time to put anything in your essay that’s already going to be mentioned.

So to say that you are a Black student is something. It’s going to be recognized. And if you wanna specifically talk about your experience as a student of color you can do that throughout the essay, but you don’t have to start it off by declaring who you are. I am, I am someone that probably spends, like when I’m writing a paper, The most time I spend is creating that like exciting first sentence.

And it could be something like, You could do a little bit of whatever you present at the end becomes the beginning and then you kind of work backward. You could talk about I love descriptive language, so you could talk about what it felt to be in a specific environment or what it felt to experience something you could focus on.

Discussing, you know, or starting off with this is who I want to be in the world. So there are so many different ways to, to brainstorm or start an essay, but to start something with, this is who I am. Colleges have already looked at that. So any way to create a hook and I would recommend. Reading the first sentence, going to the library one day and reading the first sentence of random books.

What are the books that you kind of wanna read more about? And what are books where you’re like, I don’t wanna read the rest of this, but there is no shortage of. Content or, or writing to, to help you see the way different people open up a story or open up a, a reflection or way of expressing themselves.

Okay. Thank you. Okay. So next question reads when should I start asking teachers if they could write a letter of recommendation?

I would say, So letters of recommendation, you will likely need to get one from a high school guidance counselor. This could be the person that’s just supporting you on choosing classes. It might be someone you’ve only met twice in your life, but a lot of schools require one for from a guidance counselor, and that’s really the person that can best speak to your academic abilities and school involvement.

So that one’s just kind of a given. They will likely ask for at least one recommendation from a teacher of yours and or from somebody that has been very impactful to you, like a mentor, like a supervisor, not necessarily your parents but someone who has really seen how you’ve grown and changed over time.

So when thinking. What teacher to ask? Don’t solely consider the teacher who you have, whose class you have the best grades in. Speak to the teacher that knows you and your work best. Talk to the teacher that has perhaps, has really challenged you. You could ask a teacher for a class that you’ve really struggled with, but over time you were able to build competency and you were able to improve your grades.

Think about people and teachers that know all aspects of your life or different aspects of your life, and thinking about someone in your personal life. Again, a mentor, a coach, a supporter of you, whether that’s a faith-based supporter, whether that’s someone who has really supported you in overcoming different obstacles and barriers Again, Speak to people that are not just gonna say how great you are, but people that are really gonna be able to talk about how you’ve been able to problem solve, how you’ve been able to move through adversity.

People that can really talk to, talk about the content of your character and can share a little bit about your personality. So it should be people, teachers that you know well and that know you. Not just the ones you think are gonna, are gonna say the best things about you. They wanna, colleges wanna know the real you, who is the person that’s gonna be walking on their campus in a couple of months.

So people that can really speak to that and highlight that those are the best people to find. And you can start those conversations. I feel. At the very latest, start them in junior year. But if you have people that you know, that have known you over time definitely like get them thinking about it.

You know, maybe they’ll start recording some of the observations, some of the things they see about you. And of course for a lot of teachers, they are looking for those upperclassmen teachers, those junior, senior year teachers. But if there is a teacher that can really speak highly to you, Then yeah, it might be an earlier teacher who has really seen you grow over high school.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so. So that is now our, so that final question for this evening, and thank you so much Anissa, for just your level of transparency and giving our audience a glimpse of your background and experience and also what kind of has driven your passion around diversity in inclusion and how we’re able to connect that as well to the college admission process.

And so, as I said, we are now gonna conclude the webinar, but audience, just to let you know, we do have more upcoming webinars that are all geared towards supporting you through the college admission process. So we hope to see you at another webinar. In the coming future. Thank you so much. Have a great night.