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I'm in the process of applying for college and I have a bit of a problem. I was asked to write a 100-word mini-essay about diversity. The prompt is, "What is your view of diversity and its importance in education?"

As a student of Objectivism, I think that many educational institutions have horrible policies as a result of their desire to be more "diverse."

I would like to say what I think about diversity on this essay, but I fear this will ruin my chances of getting into this college. I'd like to hear whether you think it is wise for me to write this essay from an Objectivist standpoint or not. Would it be wiser to write it as if it were a flaming liberal, fully knowing that I'm being facetious and sarcastic? Is it possible to fully justify my opinons about diversity in 100 words? I'd appreciate any input I can get on this subject.

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The admission essay isn't a place to take a stand. As I understand it, you're in a scientific field, not philosophy or something like that. An essay of this type is completely irrelevant to the course and to whether you should be admitted. Not sure what college this is, but it's possible that they're using tax dollars to perpetrate this nonsense.

Your objective is to get into this college. Do what it takes.

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I can almost guarantee that colleges aren't looking to see what your opinion is on the matter. They just want to make sure that you can write well and/or carry a good argument.

If i were you, i'd make the essay satirical and sarcastic in a light-hearted, funny way. You'll put yourself in a good position if you can make people laugh. Don't shy away from your beliefs, though.

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Put yourself in place of the person reading your essay - and write them what they want to read. I doubt admission staff would look favorable on Objectivist views - chances are they have their jobs thanks to "equal opportunity" employment laws, and not merit...

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Write EXACTLY what you think. Never compromise your principles for the irrationality of others. If a school would really exclude you from admission because the knowledge that you possess doesn't fit the status quo then you need to SERIOUSLY consider what value attending said University could have for you at all. Is eventually making x more dollars just because you attended "PC" University worth the direct attack on your self-esteem you would incur when you blatantly violate the virtue of honesty and integrity when your life or values are NOT on the line? If you attended University Y that couldn't care less about your "views on 'diversity'" but you end up making slightly less money in the end isn't that worth not compromising your integrity?

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Write EXACTLY what you think.
I strongly disagree with that advice. As I indicated in my previous post, if you were joining (say) a program on philosophy, and you knew the department-head was a Hegel fan, it would be wrong and impractical to paint yourself as a Hegel fan. In your case, a requirement like this for admission is probably no indicator at all of what you will face in your actual course of study. It is not a question of more of less money; it's a question of which course fits your goals best. Once you know which one, don't let the gatekeepers stand in your way, least of all by using your own virtue and integrity against you.

This is not like currying favor with a client by using some Peter Keating-like method. If you consider the whole context in your situation, including who pays for these gatekeepers you'll likely find that they have no right to screen based on your views on diversity. To refuse to lie to them would be closer to telling the truth to a criminal seeking to extract it from you. In the context of a criminal, the reason you lie is not only the extent of the danger, but the nature of the relationship and the fact that you do not owe the truth on certain topics to certain people.

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Diversity isnt an intrinsically terrible idea, just write (eg) that you think its good that poor people who werent able to attend quality high schools have a chance to go to university. You can say that affirmative action should be based on social class rather than skin colour, which has the benefit of being both true, and letting you avoid supporting racism. If you need to focus on racial issues, you can talk about how (eg) children of immigrants can often be more dedicated that native students, and mention how Asians have a repuation for working hard and so on.

I doubt you could write a good argument why diversity/AA is bad in 100 words anyway (I mean heck, this post is over 100 words long), so if you go down that route I suspect you'll end up with a bad essay. I think youd need at least 500-1000 to make proper arguments, so youre really looking at platitudes here.

Edited by Hal

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Uh Hal, affirmative action is ALWAYS wrong regardless of the collectivst premise you base it on, but this is off-topic so I'll drop it here.

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"What is your view of diversity and its importance in education?"

I can answer this question honestly and not in a way that might jeopardize my chances. I value diversity of knowledge and experience. My law school classmates have all sorts of professional backgrounds and interests. It's been great to be able to find someone with knowledge in an area in which I lack it. For example, a classmate and good friend of mine is an engineer (civil and mechanical licenses) and is a recognized expert on concrete. How helpful was he to have around when my trial for Trial Advocacy class involved a concrete malfunction! Another classmate and friend is very into guns (and using them responsibly). I have an invitation from him to go shooting in the country whenever I want.

I greatly value that kind of diversity.

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Content doesn't matter to them: what they are looking for is a clear statement in a small space. Think especially about Matt's point -- diversity doesn't mean what some of those clowns make it seem to be, namelt runamuck affirmative action. It simply means that not everybody in the college should be exactly the same. Diversity doesn't mean "every imaginable viewpoint, experience, race, sexual experience and religion -- and all combinations therein -- must be present on campus".

If you can watch the Penn & Teller episode on "Diversity", it might inspire you.

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To begin with, it's a loaded question. It already assumes diversity to be good, since it's important to education.

In spite of this, I'd write with this theme in mind: meeting individuals of diverse races is important, because it demonstrates that race is irrelevant to a person's character and ability.

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If it were me, I might try my hand at writing a tongue-in-cheek reductio ad absurdum, a la "A Modest Proposal."

Most people would understand that it's a satire, but the loony leftists who run today's universities would probably think it was sincere. That way you can stay true to your own values while, at the same time, writing what they want to hear.

Edited by Moose

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If it were me I would write a short letter to the school explaining that any University that MAKES me explain why "diversity" is a value can NOT possibly offer me any long term value and that by choosing to MAKE me do so they have lost a potential customer and should re-evaluate their admitance policy.

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That seems foolish. That's like cutting off your nose to smite your face. You can make a statement if you want, but the school really isn't gonna care if you opt not to go there, because they'll have tons of people on the waiting list who would jump at the chance to take your place. Unless you want to go to a fundamentalist Christian school, you will be attending a school that thinks multiculturalism is a value. Texas A&M is one of the most conservative schools in the country, and even it now has a 7-figure salary position whose sole purpose is to diversify the campus (read: get more black people). A college degree is not worthless just because it came from a university that has diversity standards.

Edited by Moose

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Not really. You can realize that attending ANY of these schools is a complete waste of time and resources like I did.

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This could be true but its not what I'm implying. I just mean that I don't see how sacrificing your principles for the sake of gaining entry into any social environment (including the University) could possibly lead to any gain in the future that over-rides the hit to your self-esteem.

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That begs the question. The point is that one is not sacrificing one's principles.

Also, to frame the gain as being "entry into a social environment" is too broad. If she were trying to gain social acceptance so that people would like her, or give her something she does not deserve that would be a completely different issue.

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"What is your view of diversity and its importance in education?"

I would like to say what I think about diversity....

Then do. State your view of diversity and its importance in education.

I think that D'Kian has the best response so far by saying..."I'd write with this theme in mind: meeting individuals of diverse races is important, because it demonstrates that race is irrelevant to a person's character and ability." Rand's essay titled "Racism" in VoS, covers this area very well. I'll also add to this, what I call, "methods of diversification" which could also be addressed. This is along the lines of how I would write mine, if I actually was applying to a college, and I totally would not fear any possible consquences that might follow it. Esp. when I might start off my answer by pointing out that the question asks what my view of diversity is, and its importance to education...*Steve gives innocent look and says to them after they read the final draft..."What?, I was only answering your question"...hehehe...This might be like saying, "Well you asked for it"...To start the answer off like this, may lessen your fear? possibly even to strengthen your honesty with them a little?

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Write EXACTLY what you think. Never compromise your principles for the irrationality of others. If a school would really exclude you from admission because the knowledge that you possess doesn't fit the status quo then you need to SERIOUSLY consider what value attending said University could have for you at all. Is eventually making x more dollars just because you attended "PC" University worth the direct attack on your self-esteem you would incur when you blatantly violate the virtue of honesty and integrity when your life or values are NOT on the line? If you attended University Y that couldn't care less about your "views on 'diversity'" but you end up making slightly less money in the end isn't that worth not compromising your integrity?

I strongly agree with EC here.

I think it all comes down to the way in which she views diversity and how she approaches this essay...there can be several different ways...Groovenstein's reply being a really good one, or also D'Kian's as I just said earlier...but either approach still upholds an Objectivist standpoint, and neither one compromises on their principles, such as honesty or integrity, and also no faking or evading reality was involved, and therefore it wouldn't effect your self-esteem in a negative way either. It has to do with your view of what diversity is, it does leave that much open to you to work with, but not much else.

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It might be a good idea to write an essay that an Objectivist and a liberal could both nod at. However, this does not avoid the underlying moral issue. To write in that way is either to equivocate or to ignore the full meaning of the term "diversity". For a similar example, consider a discussion on "environmentalism". (We've had some like that in the forum.) If one genuinely thinks "evironmentalism" means something innocuous like "keeping the city clean", that's one thing; however, if one knows all the connotations of "environmentalism" then to be anything less than critical -- to tone down one's rhetoric -- already takes the reader into account.

So, if you're compromising with a positve essay, you'll be compromising with a toned-down one. Neither addresses the moral issue: whether you owe any degree of truth on this essay.

If you write a gushing essay about the greatness of diversity, it will probably be full of bromides. So, let your approach demonstrate thoughtfulness, creativity and good English; and, some of the suggestions above have been excellent toward that end.

The essential moral issue remains that you do not owe the truth here, and should not sacrifice yourself, letting a liberal student get in in your place.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I don't think it's wise to take a stand against liberal professors, especially on an application essay. When I was in college I had my share of liberal professors. As much as I wanted to put them in their place, I kept my mouth shut and told them what they wanted to hear. My goal was to get an A and move on to the next class. You don't need to put yourself in a situation where you get a bad grade because the professor disagrees with you. Or even worse, have your application denied.

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I don't think it's wise to take a stand against liberal professors, especially on an application essay.
I understand the underlying reasoning and I've seen things happen in class, but we're talking about an application. It may depend on where you're applying, but these essays are read by the thousands by staff, who don't necessarily have the same agenda as leftist professors. What they are looking for first and formost is clear writing ability (in short supply these days) and perhaps some spark of intelligence and an ability to think independently. Spewing back the "expected" may be counterproductive. The most straightforward way to deal with the problem is to deny that race, sex and religion are the only relevant variables in a "diverse population" -- political philosophy is another generally-ignore dimension of "diversity".

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I don't think it's wise to take a stand against liberal professors, especially on an application essay. When I was in college I had my share of liberal professors. As much as I wanted to put them in their place, I kept my mouth shut and told them what they wanted to hear. My goal was to get an A and move on to the next class. You don't need to put yourself in a situation where you get a bad grade because the professor disagrees with you. Or even worse, have your application denied.

That's the beauty of going to a big school like A&M. You can challenge liberal professors as much as you want and they don't know who you are.

I understand the underlying reasoning and I've seen things happen in class, but we're talking about an application. It may depend on where you're applying, but these essays are read by the thousands by staff, who don't necessarily have the same agenda as leftist professors. What they are looking for first and formost is clear writing ability (in short supply these days) and perhaps some spark of intelligence and an ability to think independently. Spewing back the "expected" may be counterproductive. The most straightforward way to deal with the problem is to deny that race, sex and religion are the only relevant variables in a "diverse population" -- political philosophy is another generally-ignore dimension of "diversity".

But 80% of that staff is going to hold racial diversity as a value. I don't think a 100 word essay is meant for you to demonstrate writing ability. You can't demonstrate much of anything in 100 words.

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