Incorporate your minority status if appropriate, but don’t make it the crux of your essay.

If you’re a member of a minority group, you’re sure to hear conflicting advice about discussing your minority status in scholarship applications. Some say don’t mention it at all; others say get as much mileage out of it as you can. I tend toward the latter, but the problem is, you don’t always know when you’re going to get mileage by mentioning it.

I don’t see any problem mentioning your minority status as long as you don’t make it the sole topic of your essay. If you believe you faced and overcame special challenges because of your minority status, then say so and describe those challenges, but don’t skimp on the evidence. We get a lot of applications where students mention their minority status and simply imply that it was a handicap, that they had to work much harder than others to achieve their goals because of it.

That’s certainly true sometimes; other times, maybe not. If your minority status created more work and struggle for you, give us examples. Tell us how. Don’t assume, though, that a committee will automatically assign extra merit to your application simply because you are a member of a minority group.

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