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Rice University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision Deadline: Jan 4

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Rice University 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 2 essays of 150 words; 1 essay of 500 words; 1 image

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community , Why, Diversity

The Admission Committee is interested in getting to know each student as well as possible through the application process. Please respond to each of the following prompts.

Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. (150 word limit).

Consider this the prologue to your Why essay (coming up next). To nail this question, set aside an hour or so to get cozy with the Rice website and read up on your academic school and other aspects of student life. Doing all of your research at once will allow you to tell a cohesive story about yourself, while also ensuring that your essays aren’t redundant. Pour all of your academic focus into your answer to this question. What do you love about your chosen major? If you’re interested in the Visual and Dramatic Arts program, can you describe the unique opportunities you’ll find at Rice University? What resources are available to undergrads and how will they guide your craft? If you’re undecided, think about what makes Rice the ideal environment for academic exploration. How do you plan to hone in on the perfect major? The more detail you include, the more admissions will learn about you.

Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 word limit)

Keep the rich details flowing in this classic Why essay. Demonstrating a deep level of knowledge will show admissions that you’re a serious applicant. Even if you hadn’t heard of Rice before your guidance counselor suggested it, take the time to reflect on what makes you excited about the prospect of being a student there. Since you just wrote about why Rice’s majors and/or academics appeal to you for the first prompt, don’t hesitate to address residence life or campus activities in your response to this question. Admissions wants to know that you will not only thrive as a student, but also as a transplant living in their city. Does Rice have a club or volunteer organization that you really want to join? Did you fall in love with Houston when you came to visit last spring and now feel like a Texan at heart? What excites you about the prospect of sporting blue and grey next year?

Please respond to one of the following prompts to explore how you will contribute to the Rice community (in 500 words or fewer):

1. the residential college system is at the heart of rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. what life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow owls in the residential college system.

This prompt is a spin on the classic Community Essay : what do you bring with you to contribute within the residential college system, specifically? Consider your hobbies, culture, and any other extracurricular activities you do just because you love them. One great way to choose a topic is to ask yourself: if I had a podcast, what would it be about? More than likely, you’ll come up with a topic that not only interests you, but you also want to share with the world. Along with pinpointing what you’re passionate about, try to think of how you can enrich the lives of your peers. Do you teach a craft? Do you strongly believe in paying it forward? What would your friends say is your “superpower”? These are all ways to break into a discussion of what you bring to the table and what you would do to enrich your new community.

2. Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice?

Odds are that this isn’t the first Diversity Essay prompt you’ve come across this year. If it is, however, please read on. Rice wants to accept students from a range of backgrounds who will contribute to their community, so tell admissions about what makes you you and how you will strive for positive change within the student body. Think about times when people have been intrigued by or curious about your identity, skillset, or background. Maybe you began practicing meditation and Buddhism during your sophomore year and you hope to spread some wisdom and mindfulness on campus next fall. Perhaps your parents emigrated from Ukraine, and you intend to raise awareness or funds for refugees. What do you hope to share with others about your lived experience? How will you incorporate this element of your identity to enrich the world around you? Show admissions that you’re eager to make your mark in their community. Bonus points if you can reference a specific component of the Rice experience (think clubs, classes, residential colleges, volunteer opportunities, etc.) as a natural stepping stone on your personal journey of leadership and progress.

In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition (known as “The Box”), please share an image of something that appeals to you. See the Help Section for more information.

The final piece to Rice’s supplement isn’t an essay at all. Rice understands that a picture is worth a thousand words (or so we’ve been told). So instead of having you write a thousand words (which sounds exhausting), Rice University is asking you to upload a picture of something that appeals to you. When brainstorming which image to choose, think about your goals and passions. If you’re hoping to declare an English major, maybe your photo of choice is the Pulitzer Prize. If you are hoping to develop your business management skills at Rice, maybe you want to share the photo your mom took of you devouring pizza at student-run The Hoot this spring. Regardless of which direction you choose to take, what matters most is that your image communicates something hyper-personal, and/or reveals new information about you, your interests or your goals that is not covered anywhere else on your application.

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College Essays

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Rice University is one of the top 20 universities in the nation , and to get in, you need more than just awesome grades and test scores—you need a compelling Rice essay. The Rice application requires several essays depending on the school you're applying to at the university. So what should you write about for each Rice essay to make your application as strong as it can be?

We'll explain what the Rice supplement is and go over the Rice University essay prompts you'll see on your application. Then, we'll give you expert tips on how to answer each essay prompt so you'll have an even better shot at getting accepted to this prestigious university!

Feature Image: faungg's photos /Flickr

What Is the Rice Supplement?

Like many colleges, Rice has a supplement that requires applicants to submit additional info to the school—that is, info not included in the Common Application or Apply Coalition with Scoir .

The Rice writing supplement consists of several essay and short answer prompts, which most undergraduate applicants (though not all—we'll explain this in more detail shortly) must answer for their applications. These supplementary questions ask about applicants' choice of academic field, reasons for applying to Rice, and so on.

In addition, as part of the Rice supplement, all applicants must upload an image that depicts something that appeals to them or is important to them . This requirement, called "The Box," isn't an essay, but it plays just as important a role in the application process. So choose a picture wisely!

Once you've answered all these questions and uploaded an image, you can submit your Rice supplement along with the rest of your application.

What exactly are the Rice University essay prompts you need to answer? Let's take a look.

What Are the Rice University Essay Prompts?

There are six Rice University essay prompts in total ; however, feel free to relax a little since you won't need to respond to all these prompts on your application. This is because the Rice University essay prompts you must answer will vary depending on the school you're applying to at Rice .

Below are all the current Rice University essay prompts, organized by what types of applicants are required to answer which ones.

All Applicants

There are four essays that all applicants must submit to Rice.

The first of these is a personal essay that responds to one of the essay prompts provided by either the Common App or Apply Coalition with Scoir (depending on which system you're using). This essay should be about 500–550 words long and must be no longer than 650 words.

Both the Common App and Apply Coalition include several essay prompts from which you can choose. We won't be listing those prompts here, but you can find them in our guides to the Common App and Coalition App essay prompts .

In addition to the Common App or Apply Coalition personal essay, all applicants must submit three short answers as part of the Rice supplement . Your answers to the first two of these questions will be much shorter than your personal essay, at just 150 words max per response.

Here are the first two short-answer prompts:

Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above.

Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you?

The third supplemental essay is longer, at 500 words max , and you'll need to choose between two prompts to answer:

Please respond to one of the following prompts to explore how you will contribute to the Rice community: Option 1: The Residential College System is at the heart of Rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. What life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow Owls in the residential college system? Option 2: Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice?

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If you're into architecture, you'll need to answer these next two Rice University essay prompts.

School of Architecture Applicants ONLY

Applicants to the Rice School of Architecture must submit all of the above PLUS two more short answers (again, these are part of the Rice supplement). Your answer to each question must be no longer than 250 words , giving you a little more space to work with compared with the two short-answer questions above.

Here are the current Rice University essay prompts for School of Architecture applicants:

All Rice University Essay Prompts, Analyzed

Now that we've seen all the Rice University essay prompts, let's analyze them one at a time to see how you can answer them effectively.

Rice Supplement 1: Short Answer (All Applicants)

This first short answer wants you to summarize your (main) intended field of study as well as any other fields you're interested in studying at Rice. It's a deceptively simple prompt that's about a lot more than just what you plan to study at Rice.

The crux of this essay isn't just summarizing your major—it's explaining why you've chosen this field and why Rice specifically will be a good fit for your goals and interests .

Here are the questions this prompt is really asking you to answer:

  • Why do you want to study this particular field?
  • Why do you think Rice is a good fit for you and your academic interests?

As you write your response, try to focus on specifics . Don't just say you've always had an interest in writing stories. What specifically drove you to declare a major in English? For instance, you could discuss your deep fascination with Shakespeare, specifically with Macbeth , and how you're excited about Rice's array of Shakespeare-centered classes .

If you have enough space (remember that your answer can only be 150 words max), you could also (or instead) elaborate on what you plan to do with your intended major after college and how Rice will help you achieve this goal . If you're hoping to study music, for example, you could write about how you believe Rice's Navigating Music Careers portal and accomplished music faculty will help prepare you for establishing a successful career in music.

If you're still undecided about what you want to major in, this is a great time to explain what kinds of fields you're considering studying and why they intrigue you. Maybe you recently developed an interest in architecture after seeing the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis and are now thinking of taking some architecture classes at Rice.

Whatever the case, be clear about what you (might) want to study and why .

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What do you want to study at Rice—and why?

Rice Supplement 2: Short Answer (All Applicants)

Unlike the prompt above, this prompt is not limited to academics (though you are welcome to talk about those here as well, as long as you don't repeat anything you wrote for your other short answer). Basically, Rice just wants to know this: why Rice?

This prompt is actually a variation of the "why this college?" essay , which many colleges ask for in their applications. Specifically, this prompt is asking you to focus on why Rice is an ideal fit for you .

Here are some examples of topics you could write about:

  • A particular academic program or major you're interested in doing, possibly one that's not offered elsewhere or is somewhat rare
  • The small community atmosphere at Rice and the fun activities and traditions it offers students , such as O-Week and Beer Bike
  • The diversity of the Rice student body and why this positive, blended environment would be ideal for you as a student
  • Its urban location in Houston and how you intend to use the resources of the big city to further your academic or professional interests
  • A certain professor or faculty member whom you wish to work with

Remember to be specific —don't just say you're interested in Rice because it's known for quality research or because it's ranked highly on many "best colleges" lists. What specific features does Rice have that made you apply?

If you're not sure what to write about for this Rice essay, I recommend doing some research on Rice. Start by visiting the official Rice website to see what the school offers in terms of academics, extracurricular activities, professional opportunities, internships, study abroad programs, etc. You can read more about anything that sticks out to you or resonates with your interests.

You can also refer to community-based websites, such as College Confidential and Reddit , to see what current students have to say about life at Rice.

Rice Supplement 3: Essay (All Applicants)

The third essay in the Rice supplement offers a choice of two prompts. Aside from the Common App or Apply Coalition with Scoir personal essay, this is the longest Rice essay you'll write for your application .   You have a limit of 500 words , which should give you plenty of space to delve into the details of yourself and what you'll contribute to the community at Rice.

So what are these prompts asking you to do exactly? Both options are essentially a diversity essay prompt . But let's discuss one prompt at a time.

Option 1: The Residential College System is at the heart of Rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. What life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow Owls in the residential college system?

Option 1 basically has two parts: the first asks what makes you different from other applicants and what qualities you bring to Rice. The second part focuses on Rice's residential college system , which is founded on the principles of diversity and communty; that part of the prompt asks you to describe how your cultural background or past experience will shape your contribution to your assigned residential college.

Note the significance of the word "unique" in the prompt here—this is the crux of what you should write about in your essay. What specific distinctive qualities do you have that you think will make a positive contribution to the Rice community?

Here are some sample topics you could write about for this Rice essay:

  • A particular skill you have —for example, maybe you often play classical guitar music to calm down your younger sibling at home, and you think this skill could help students (and yourself) feel better during finals week at Rice
  • A positive personality trait you have , such as optimism or dedication, and how this trait has helped you in life and could help you and others at Rice as well
  • A cultural, religious, or ethnic background you have that is important to you in your daily life and that you feel will help increase the diversity at Rice
  • Any unique experiences that are significant to you or have had a major impact on how you define yourself —perhaps you've lived in many countries and believe these experiences of constantly having to adapt to new cultures and lifestyles might help you (and others!) with transitioning to life at Rice

Option 2: Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice?

Option 2, meanwhile, asks you to share how at least one aspect of your background or identity—whether you define that by your race, ethnicity, spirituality, sex or gender, sexual orientation, how you were raised, or a particular experience—has shaped your worldview. It then asks you to explain and why that perspective makes you want to attend Rice specifically.

With this essay, keep in mind the particular use of the phrase "change agents."  The university is representing itself as a community of students who want to make a difference in the world, so given your upbringing, experiences, values, or identity, in what  specific  are would you like to have a positive impact? For example, does being a first-generation college student inspire you to become a peer mentor with Rice's Student Success Initiatives ? Did volunteering at a food bank every Thanksgiving with your family make you passionate about the service learning component of the university's Program in Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities?

Whether you choose option 1 or 2 for this third supplemental essay, keep in mind the following:

Make sure to show, not tell. You've got plenty of room to be able to tell a compelling story, so try not to rely on dull descriptions, clichés, and general, all-encompassing statements. Rather, fill your story with personality, voice, images, and realism. Using a variety of literary devices can add lots of color to your writing and will help your essay stand out.

In addition, don't repeat anything you've already written in your Common App or Apply Coalition with Scoir essay. The essays required for both application systems are similar to the Rice essay above in that they're all longer and more personal. Write about something different for each so you don't sound as though only a single thing defines you.

Rice Supplement 4: Short Answer (Architecture Applicants ONLY)

Why are you determined to study architecture? Could you please elaborate on your past experiences and how they have motivated you to apply to Rice University and the School of Architecture in particular?

This prompt is similar to the first short-answer supplemental prompt in that it's asking you to elaborate on your chosen major (in this case, architecture) and why you're interested in it. For this essay, however, you don't need to focus on architecture as a major as much as you do on architecture as a passion .

In other words, this is your chance to tell the story of how you developed a deep interest in architecture and what architecture means to you .

For this Rice essay, and as the prompt says, you can focus on aspirations (i.e., what goals do you have and how does architecture fulfill these?), experiences (i.e., did a particular incident make you develop an interest in architecture?), and relationships (i.e., who, if anyone, inspired you to study the field?).

Here are some potential topics you could write about:

  • A particular person, such as a parent or teacher , who introduced you to architecture, and how this person influences you today (if applicable)
  • A design or architecture class you took , either at school or as an extracurricular, and how this class made you become interested in architecture
  • A research project you did , whether specifically about architecture or not, and how it drew you into wanting to learn more about architecture and its various applications
  • A certain piece of architecture , such as the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building, you either saw in person or learned about and that made you want to study the field further

In your essay, use specific details and avoid clichéd openings , such as "I knew I wanted to study architecture when…" The admissions committee at Rice has more than likely heard these types of overly broad statements hundreds, if not thousands, of times, so avoid them!

body_once_upon_a_time_cliche

This is one cliché you'll definitely want to avoid in your Rice essay.

Rice Supplement 5: Short Answer (Architecture Applicants ONLY)

Please expand on relevant experiences and motivations outside of your academic trajectory that have inspired you to study architecture, focusing on aspects that are not accommodated by other prompts in the application.

This is an interesting essay prompt since it's so much broader than the other one you have to respond to as an architecture applicant to Rice. The purpose of this prompt is to reveal to Rice what types of activities you're interested or engaged in (outside of architecture) and what role they play in your fascination with architecture .

Think about what you do in your spare time, what you're passionate about, and possibly what you are obligated to do (e.g., chores or duties at work). Are there any activities you do that you find fun but also intellectually or physically challenging? Are you particularly invested in an activity?

Don't be afraid to get really creative and honest here —you're allowed to write about an activity that's unconventional, eccentric, "boring," or even plain goofy. Just make sure you're also giving the admissions committee deeper insight into something about you , such as how you flourish when competing against your own times in cross-country races or how you calm yourself down by watching urban planning YouTube videos every evening. Ultimately, you want to highlight a personal hobby or motivation that has contributed to your interest in architecture .

  • Your love of design  and how toys you used to play with as a child, such as LEGO bricks, led to your gradually developing a desire to learn more about architecture as a field
  • Any personal experience that relates to how you became interested in architecture —maybe you grew up in a shoddy apartment complex, an experience which showed you how better and safer architecture could improve people's day-to-day lives
  • A relevant video or board game you love to play , such as SimCity, Minecraft, or 7 Wonders Architects, and how this game connects with your love of planning and building
  • Volunteering with an organization or at a specific place , such as at Habitat for Humanity, and what this activity means to you ( NOTE: I recommend only picking this topic if you're continually involved with a specific volunteer effort and if it's something you're very invested in—if you helped build a house for a low-income family only once, for instance, don't write about that here!)
  • An architecture-based TV show or movie , such as  Big Dreams, Small Spaces, Grand Designs , or Amazing Spaces ,   that you love and indulge in on a regular basis and why you believe this program or film has shaped your passion

As a final tip for this Rice essay, don't feel obligated to choose an "impressive" topic . Instead, use this open-ended essay prompt as a chance to demonstrate your personal strengths and passions in a highly personal, creative way.

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Real Rice Essay Example + Analysis

Though knowing what kinds of topics you can write about for each Rice essay is definitely helpful, it's even better to be able to see what an actual successful Rice essay looks like. Below, we show you a real Rice essay example that was written by an admitted student .

The following essay was written in response to a prompt similar to the current Rice essay prompt for the second short-answer essay above. (In other words, it's essentially a "Why Rice?" prompt.)

Note: Since this essay is a little older and the Rice essay topics change every few years, the prompt and word length for this essay differ slightly from the current guidelines. For this essay, the word limit was 250 words, whereas the current limit is 150 words.

Here is the essay:

"We are going to visit Rice today," my mom leaned back in her front row seat and said to me.

Wait, is that a restaurant specializing in all kinds of rice dishes? Like fried rice, rice soup, and rice balls? My brain went into a frenzy.

All other questions flooding my thoughts dissipated, however, when my eyes lay on Rice's beautiful Byzantine-style buildings with its magnificent archways and its soft sand-pink brick walls. While just outside its surroundings the thriving city life of Houston continues, Rice kept its sacred ground intimate with its relatively small campus and peaceful with its large spreads of greenery and shades. It's perfect! said my right brain, falling in love at first sight with the campus. My left brain, however, chastised the emotional side of me with Don't judge a book by its cover. You can't just choose your true love like that!

Exasperated by my left brain, I attended an information seminar. Phrases like "Passport to Houston," "Best Quality of Student Life," "Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen," and "more than 40 interdisciplinary centers" flashed by my eyes. Almost unlimited access to Houston's transportation and hangout spots? A research facility where I can group with students of all fields and work on solving real-world problems? Friendly research faculty who might allow me to continue my interdisciplinary research in psychology and computer science? My left brain finally gave in. Alright, alright. Let's go make Rice into not just a staple for food, but also education, then.

What Makes This Rice Essay Work?

It's got a lot of personality. The italicized parts, which symbolize the applicant's thoughts, give us a highly personal and intriguing look into their reactions to their first visit to Rice. In addition, the humorous bits (such as when the university's name is compared to the actual rice food) add a fun and creative touch.

It oozes passion. While this applicant might occasionally go a little overboard in how they describe how amazing Rice is, one thing is clear: they're extremely interested in attending Rice and making the most of their interdisciplinary interests here.

How Could This Rice Essay Be Even Better?

It could cut out the clichés. The saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" has been done to death and doesn't add any memorable insight into the applicant. This essay would be better if the applicant had changed this phrase or simply cut it out completely. Moreover, although the concept of Rice as a food is funny, this applicant likely isn't the first person to have made a joke about this.

It could be more specific. Although there's clearly a lot of passion in this Rice essay, it lacks detail in areas where we could've learned a lot more about the applicant. For example, what kinds of research does this person want to conduct at Rice? And what "real-world problems" do they want to solve?

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How to Write a Great Rice Essay: Five Key Tips

Before you go off writing your Rice essay, here are some final tips to keep in mind.

#1: Use Specific Details

I've said this before and I'll say it again: be specific in your essays . Rice doesn't just want to know that you're good at softball—it wants to know why this sport is important to you, what kind of role it plays in your life, and how it makes you feel.

If you're describing a specific person in one of your essays, use concrete details to show the admissions committee who this person really is. Does she have an endearing gap in her teeth when she smiles? What does his voice sound like?

Details like these will allow your readers to more readily feel the personality and passion in your writing, making it easier to relate to you on a deeper level. They'll also help you and your essays stand out from the sea of applicants, which is always a plus!

#2: Channel Your Inner Voice

Personal essays are all about showcasing your personality and a side of yourself that's not made clear in the more quantitative (i.e., grades and test scores) parts of your application.

Therefore, with each Rice essay, make sure you're channeling your inner voice. Does the essay sound as though you wrote it and not someone else did? Are you writing about what you really want to and not what you think the Rice admissions committee wants to read?

For example, if you're naturally a humorous person, feel free to throw in a joke or two. If you're the poetic type, you could add in some lines of poetry you've written (if relevant to your essay topic) or sprinkle in some flowery metaphors.

The basic tip here is to write in whatever way comes most natural to you .

That being said, there are a few things you should always avoid in your college essays:

  • Typos, poor grammar, incorrect spelling, and other technical errors (the only exception to this would be if you're quoting someone who used incorrect grammar or colloquial words such as "ain't" or "gonna")
  • Inappropriate stories —don't write about the time you got arrested or made an obviously wrong or immoral choice, for example
  • Rude or impolite words and phrases

#3: Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Even though most of the essays on the Rice supplement aren't that long, you still have a lot to write for just one school, so these essays will likely take up a lot of your free time. Be sure to start your essays (for all the colleges you're applying to—not just Rice) ahead of time, ideally at least a few months before your college application deadlines .

#4: Avoid Repeating Yourself

Many of the Rice University essay prompts touch on similar topics, such as why you want to attend Rice, why you want to study a certain field, and what makes you unique.

As you answer the prompts, try to ensure there isn't too much overlap between the content of your essays .

It's OK if there's a little bit of repetition. For example, it'd be hard not to talk about your interest in architecture as you answer supplement 1 (What do you want to major in?) and supplement 3 (Why architecture?).

That said, your primary goal should be to focus on different main points for each of your essays . This way, Rice will get a more well-rounded (versus one-sided) picture of who you are.

body_lemon_unique

Avoid repeating the same ideas in your essays; remember that you're trying to stand out as an applicant, so each response should give the admissions committee new information about who you are, your intellectual passions, and your motivations.

#5: Don't Forget to Proofread!

For each Rice essay, take a lot of time to edit and proofread it.

After you write a rough draft, put the essay away for a few days. Once some time has passed, take your essay out again and reread it. Fix any obvious errors, such as typos and misspellings, and mark any areas that are awkward, unclear, or irrelevant.

Do this process a few times until you have a fairly clean draft. Then, give your essay to someone else to read ; this could be a parent, teacher, older sibling, tutor, etc. Ask this person for feedback, and use their advice to further tweak your essay until you eventually have a quality final draft.

As with any essay, be sure to do one final proofread (and get someone else to look it over, too!) right before you submit it to a college.

What's Next?

Interested in applying to other highly prestigious schools besides Rice? Then take a look at our guides to how to write essays for Northwestern , Harvard , and Stanford .

Writing college admissions essays can be tricky. Check out our expert guides to learn how you can write a great Common Application essay and Coalition Application essay .

For more tips on how to get into Rice, including what SAT/ACT score you'll need, check out our Rice University admissions page .

rice university diversity essay examples

Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.

Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.

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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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  • How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples

How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples

Published on November 1, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Table of contents

What is a diversity essay, identify how you will enrich the campus community, share stories about your lived experience, explain how your background or identity has affected your life, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Diversity essays ask students to highlight an important aspect of their identity, background, culture, experience, viewpoints, beliefs, skills, passions, goals, etc.

Diversity essays can come in many forms. Some scholarships are offered specifically for students who come from an underrepresented background or identity in higher education. At highly competitive schools, supplemental diversity essays require students to address how they will enhance the student body with a unique perspective, identity, or background.

In the Common Application and applications for several other colleges, some main essay prompts ask about how your background, identity, or experience has affected you.

Why schools want a diversity essay

Many universities believe a student body representing different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community.

Through the diversity essay, admissions officers want students to articulate the following:

  • What makes them different from other applicants
  • Stories related to their background, identity, or experience
  • How their unique lived experience has affected their outlook, activities, and goals

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Think about what aspects of your identity or background make you unique, and choose one that has significantly impacted your life.

For some students, it may be easy to identify what sets them apart from their peers. But if you’re having trouble identifying what makes you different from other applicants, consider your life from an outsider’s perspective. Don’t presume your lived experiences are normal or boring just because you’re used to them.

Some examples of identities or experiences that you might write about include the following:

  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Nationality
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Immigration background
  • Religion/belief system
  • Place of residence
  • Family circumstances
  • Extracurricular activities related to diversity

Include vulnerable, authentic stories about your lived experiences. Maintain focus on your experience rather than going into too much detail comparing yourself to others or describing their experiences.

Keep the focus on you

Tell a story about how your background, identity, or experience has impacted you. While you can briefly mention another person’s experience to provide context, be sure to keep the essay focused on you. Admissions officers are mostly interested in learning about your lived experience, not anyone else’s.

When I was a baby, my grandmother took me in, even though that meant postponing her retirement and continuing to work full-time at the local hairdresser. Even working every shift she could, she never missed a single school play or soccer game.

She and I had a really special bond, even creating our own special language to leave each other secret notes and messages. She always pushed me to succeed in school, and celebrated every academic achievement like it was worthy of a Nobel Prize. Every month, any leftover tip money she received at work went to a special 509 savings plan for my college education.

When I was in the 10th grade, my grandmother was diagnosed with ALS. We didn’t have health insurance, and what began with quitting soccer eventually led to dropping out of school as her condition worsened. In between her doctor’s appointments, keeping the house tidy, and keeping her comfortable, I took advantage of those few free moments to study for the GED.

In school pictures at Raleigh Elementary School, you could immediately spot me as “that Asian girl.” At lunch, I used to bring leftover fun see noodles, but after my classmates remarked how they smelled disgusting, I begged my mom to make a “regular” lunch of sliced bread, mayonnaise, and deli meat.

Although born and raised in North Carolina, I felt a cultural obligation to learn my “mother tongue” and reconnect with my “homeland.” After two years of all-day Saturday Chinese school, I finally visited Beijing for the first time, expecting I would finally belong. While my face initially assured locals of my Chinese identity, the moment I spoke, my cover was blown. My Chinese was littered with tonal errors, and I was instantly labeled as an “ABC,” American-born Chinese.

I felt culturally homeless.

Speak from your own experience

Highlight your actions, difficulties, and feelings rather than comparing yourself to others. While it may be tempting to write about how you have been more or less fortunate than those around you, keep the focus on you and your unique experiences, as shown below.

I began to despair when the FAFSA website once again filled with red error messages.

I had been at the local library for hours and hadn’t even been able to finish the form, much less the other to-do items for my application.

I am the first person in my family to even consider going to college. My parents work two jobs each, but even then, it’s sometimes very hard to make ends meet. Rather than playing soccer or competing in speech and debate, I help my family by taking care of my younger siblings after school and on the weekends.

“We only speak one language here. Speak proper English!” roared a store owner when I had attempted to buy bread and accidentally used the wrong preposition.

In middle school, I had relentlessly studied English grammar textbooks and received the highest marks.

Leaving Seoul was hard, but living in West Orange, New Jersey was much harder一especially navigating everyday communication with Americans.

After sharing relevant personal stories, make sure to provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your perspective, activities, and goals. You should also explain how your background led you to apply to this university and why you’re a good fit.

Include your outlook, actions, and goals

Conclude your essay with an insight about how your background or identity has affected your outlook, actions, and goals. You should include specific actions and activities that you have done as a result of your insight.

One night, before the midnight premiere of Avengers: Endgame , I stopped by my best friend Maria’s house. Her mother prepared tamales, churros, and Mexican hot chocolate, packing them all neatly in an Igloo lunch box. As we sat in the line snaking around the AMC theater, I thought back to when Maria and I took salsa classes together and when we belted out Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” at karaoke. In that moment, as I munched on a chicken tamale, I realized how much I admired the beauty, complexity, and joy in Maria’s culture but had suppressed and devalued my own.

The following semester, I joined Model UN. Since then, I have learned how to proudly represent other countries and have gained cultural perspectives other than my own. I now understand that all cultures, including my own, are equal. I still struggle with small triggers, like when I go through airport security and feel a suspicious glance toward me, or when I feel self-conscious for bringing kabsa to school lunch. But in the future, I hope to study and work in international relations to continue learning about other cultures and impart a positive impression of Saudi culture to the world.

The smell of the early morning dew and the welcoming whinnies of my family’s horses are some of my most treasured childhood memories. To this day, our farm remains so rural that we do not have broadband access, and we’re too far away from the closest town for the postal service to reach us.

Going to school regularly was always a struggle: between the unceasing demands of the farm and our lack of connectivity, it was hard to keep up with my studies. Despite being a voracious reader, avid amateur chemist, and active participant in the classroom, emergencies and unforeseen events at the farm meant that I had a lot of unexcused absences.

Although it had challenges, my upbringing taught me resilience, the value of hard work, and the importance of family. Staying up all night to watch a foal being born, successfully saving the animals from a minor fire, and finding ways to soothe a nervous mare afraid of thunder have led to an unbreakable family bond.

Our farm is my family’s birthright and our livelihood, and I am eager to learn how to ensure the farm’s financial and technological success for future generations. In college, I am looking forward to joining a chapter of Future Farmers of America and studying agricultural business to carry my family’s legacy forward.

Tailor your answer to the university

After explaining how your identity or background will enrich the university’s existing student body, you can mention the university organizations, groups, or courses in which you’re interested.

Maybe a larger public school setting will allow you to broaden your community, or a small liberal arts college has a specialized program that will give you space to discover your voice and identity. Perhaps this particular university has an active affinity group you’d like to join.

Demonstrating how a university’s specific programs or clubs are relevant to you can show that you’ve done your research and would be a great addition to the university.

At the University of Michigan Engineering, I want to study engineering not only to emulate my mother’s achievements and strength, but also to forge my own path as an engineer with disabilities. I appreciate the University of Michigan’s long-standing dedication to supporting students with disabilities in ways ranging from accessible housing to assistive technology. At the University of Michigan Engineering, I want to receive a top-notch education and use it to inspire others to strive for their best, regardless of their circumstances.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

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In addition to your main college essay , some schools and scholarships may ask for a supplementary essay focused on an aspect of your identity or background. This is sometimes called a diversity essay .

Many universities believe a student body composed of different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community, which is why they assign a diversity essay .

To write an effective diversity essay , include vulnerable, authentic stories about your unique identity, background, or perspective. Provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your outlook, activities, and goals. If relevant, you should also mention how your background has led you to apply for this university and why you’re a good fit.

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Rice University Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts and Advice

September 8, 2023

rice supplemental essays

Rice University, the STEM powerhouse in Houston, Texas, accepted just under 8% of applicants into their Class of 2027. Given that the applicant pool—including the 92% who are ultimately rejected—are all immensely talented and qualified, any aspiring Rice student needs to find ways to stand out on their application. One such way is through the Rice supplemental essays.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into Rice? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get into Rice University: Admissions Data and Strategies  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

When evaluating applicants, Rice University places a strong emphasis on the quality of one’s essays. Below are Rice’s four supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with our advice for creating a committee-swaying admissions essay.

Rice Supplemental Essays – Prompt #1

1) please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 word limit)..

Share an authentic story here of why you are interested in your selected discipline (or disciplines). What books have you read on the subject? Which documentaries have you watched? What podcasts have you listened to? What subtopics most intrigue you? Did a teacher excite you about a topic or was it a parent or outside mentor? Do you know where you want to take this knowledge post-bachelor’s degree? Do you aim to one day go on to pursue a graduate/professional degree or is there an occupation you are shooting for right out of undergrad? Which classes are you excited to take? What do you hope to research as an undergrad? Include as much detail as possible in this very limited 150-word space.

You can structure the narrative of this essay as a succinct but comprehensive soup to nuts chronicling of your entire journey toward your discipline of interest (even in limited space) or you could share one or two vignettes that illustrate your burgeoning passion for engineering, history, French, computer science, business, psychology, etc.

Rice Supplemental Essays – Prompt #2

2) based upon your exploration of rice university, what elements of the rice experience appeal to you (150 word limit.).

The admissions committee wants to know why you desire to pursue your studies at Rice. However, with only 150 words to play with, you’ll have to make every sentence count.

In general, make sure to:

  • Cite specific academic programs , professors , research opportunities , internship/externship programs , study abroad program s, student-run organizations , etc.
  • Explain how you will take advantage of the university’s endless resources both inside and outside of the classroom.

Examples of items that quality “Why Rice?” essays touch upon include:

  • Rice’s high marks for both race/class interaction and overall quality of life.
  • Additionally, the small class size—69% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Ample opportunities for mentored research with faculty as an undergraduate.
  • A 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
  • Desire to participate in some of the  300 student-led organizations on campus.
  • Lastly, one of Rice’s study abroad opportunities that appeals to you.

Rice Supplemental Essays – Prompt #3

3) the residential college system is at the heart of rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. what life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow owls in the residential college system.

Your answer here could be about an ethnic, religious, or neighborhood community/identity or a group of individuals who gather for a club, sport, or service project. Perhaps you are the captain of a team, the editor-in-chief of your school paper, or the president of a club—on the other hand, you may simply be a valuable contributing member. Regardless of whether you are a leading man/woman or a still-essential bit player, make sure that you use your writing ability to show the admissions officer what type of community member you are rather than merely telling them. Of course, they are also interested in your “life perspectives” which are also typically more engaging when shown through examples versus delivered through “I” statements.

Rice Supplemental Essays (Continued)

You can also discuss how you have engaged with your high school local/community and what you have learned from interacting with people of a different ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc. Draw on past evidence of your commitment to being a positive force in your community and speculate how that is likely to manifest on Rice’s campus. Research and cite Rice student-run organizations, local nonprofit groups, or anything else you are drawn to. The admissions committee wants to understand precisely how you will contribute to their campus community of 8,000+ undergrads. In summary, drawing the link between your past efforts and future aims is critical here.

For example, if you’ve done work with Meals on Wheels throughout your teens, it will be most impactful if you express your commitment to joining the local Meals on Wheels chapter which is located at a Jewish Community Center in Houston.

Rice University Supplement – “The Box”

The rice box: in keeping with rice’s long-standing tradition, please share an image of something that appeals to you..

Take them at their word here that “The Box” “not used for evaluative purposes”. As such, you shouldn’t spend hours assembling the perfect collage or designing your own symbol from scratch. Think of this as your signature on your Rice application. You can be straightforward, silly, serious, or sincere. Also heed their advice that the image can be something “aside from what you have achieved”. Therefore, you shouldn’t feel pressure to insert a picture of a robot you built or a trophy you won.

How important are the Rice supplemental essays?

The essays are “very important” to the Rice admissions committee. The following factors are equally important: the rigor of one’s secondary school record. GPA, class rank, recommendations, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal qualities. Clearly, Rice University weighs your essays heavily in their evaluation of your candidacy.

Want personalized assistance?

Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Rice supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote  today.

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rice university diversity essay examples

May 11, 2023

Writing an Excellent Diversity Essay

What is the diversity essay question and how do you answer it

What is the diversity question in a school application, and why does it matter when applying to leading programs and universities? Most importantly, how should you respond?

Diversity is of supreme value in higher education, and schools want to know how every student will contribute to it in their community. A diversity essay is an essay that encourages applicants with disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds, an unusual education, a distinctive experience, or a unique family history to write about how these elements of their background have prepared them to play a useful role in increasing and encouraging diversity among their target program’s student body and broader community.

In this post, we’ll cover the following topics: 

How to show you can add to diversity

Why diversity matters at school, seven examples that reveal diversity, how to write about your diversity, diversity essay example, want to ensure your application demonstrates the diversity that your dream school is seeking.

If you are an immigrant to the United States, the child of immigrants, or someone whose ethnicity is underrepresented in the States, your response to “How will you add to the diversity of our class/community?” and similar questions might help your application efforts. Why? Because you can use it to show how your background will add a distinctive perspective to the program you are applying to.

Download this sample personal background essay, and see how one candidate won over the adcom and got accepted into their top-choice MBA program.

Of course, if you’re not from a group that is underrepresented in your field or a disadvantaged group, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to write about in a diversity essay.

For example, you might have an unusual or special experience to share, such as serving in the military, being a member of a dance troupe, or caring for a disabled relative. These and other distinctive experiences can convey how you will contribute to the diversity of the school’s campus.

You could be the first member of your family to apply to college or the first to learn English in your household. Perhaps you have worked your way through college or helped raise your siblings. You might also have been an ally to those who are underrepresented, disadvantaged, or marginalized in your community, at your previous school, or in an earlier work experience. 

As you can see, diversity is not limited to one’s religion, ethnicity, culture, language, or sexual orientation. It refers to whatever element of your identity  distinguishes you from others and shows that you, too, value diversity.

Admissions officers believe diversity in the classroom improves the educational experience of all the students involved. They also believe that having a diverse workforce better serves society as a whole.

The more diverse perspectives found in the classroom, throughout the dorms, in the dining halls, and mixed into study groups, the richer the discussions will be.

Plus, learning and growing in this kind of multicultural environment will prepare students for working in our increasingly multicultural and global world.

In medicine, for example, a heterogeneous workforce benefits people from previously underrepresented cultures. Businesses realize they will market more effectively if they can speak to different audiences and markets, which is possible when members of their workforce come from different backgrounds and cultures. Schools simply want to prepare graduates for the 21st century job market.

Adcoms want to know about your personal diversity elements and the way they have helped you develop particular character and personality traits , as well as the unusual experiences that have shaped you.

Here are seven examples an applicant could write about:

  • They grew up with a strong insistence on respecting elders, attending family events, or learning their parents’ native language and culture.
  • They are close to grandparents and extended family members who have taught them how teamwork can help everyone thrive.
  • They have had to face difficulties that stem from their parents’ values being in conflict with theirs or those of their peers.
  • Teachers have not always understood the elements of their culture or lifestyle and how those elements influence their performance.
  • They suffered from discrimination and succeeded despite it because of their grit, values, and character.
  • They learned skills from a lifestyle that is outside the norm (e.g., living in foreign countries as the child of a diplomat or contractor; performing professionally in theater, dance, music, or sports; having a deaf sibling).
  • They’ve encountered racism or other prejudice (either toward themselves or others) and responded by actively promoting diverse, tolerant values.

And remember, it’s not just about who your parents are. It’s about who you are – at the core.

Your background, influences, religious observances, language, ideas, work environment, community experiences – all these factors come together to create a unique individual, one who will contribute to a varied class of distinct individuals taking their place in a diverse world.

Your answer to the diversity question should focus on how your experiences have built your empathy for others, your embrace of differences, your resilience, your character, and your perspective.

The school might well ask how you think of diversity or how you can bring or add to the diversity of your school, chosen profession, or community. Make sure you answer the specific question posed by highlighting distinctive elements of your profile that will add to the class mosaic every adcom is trying to create. You don’t want to blend in; you want to stand out in a positive way while also complementing the school’s canvas.

Here’s a simple, three-part framework that will help you think of diversity more, well, diversely:

  • Identity : Who are you? What has contributed to your identity? How do you distinguish yourself? Your identity can include any of the following: gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, religion, nontraditional work experience, nontraditional educational background, multicultural background, and family’s educational level.
  • Deeds : What have you done? What have you accomplished? This could include any of the following: achievements inside and/or outside your field of study, leadership opportunities, community service, , internship or professional experience, research opportunities, hobbies, and travel. Any or all of these could be unique. Also, what life-derailing, throw-you-for-a-loop challenges have you faced and overcome?
  • Ideas : How do you think? How do you approach things? What drives you? What influences you? Are you the person who can break up a tense meeting with some well-timed humor? Are you the one who intuitively sees how to bring people together? 

Learn more about this three-part framework in this podcast episode.

Think about each question within this framework and how you could apply your diversity elements to the classroom, your school, or your community. Any of these elements will serve as the framework for your essay.

Don’t worry if you can’t think of something totally “out there.” You don’t need to be a tightrope walker living in the Andes or a Buddhist monk from Japan to pass the diversity test!

And please remember, the examples I have listed are not exhaustive. There are many other ways to show diversity!

All you need to write successfully about how you will contribute to the rich diversity of your target school’s community is to examine your identity, deeds, and ideas, with an eye toward your personal distinctiveness and individuality. There is only one you .

Want our advice on how you can best show diversity?

Click here to sign up for a free consultation.

Take a look at this sample diversity essay, and pay attention to how the writer underscores their appreciation for and experience with diversity. 

When I was starting 11 th grade, my dad, an agricultural scientist, was assigned to a 3-month research project in a farm village in Niigata (northwest Honshu in Japan). Rather than stay behind with my mom and siblings, I begged to go with him. As a straight-A student, I convinced my parents and the principal that I could handle my schoolwork remotely (pre-COVID) for that stretch. It was time to leap beyond my comfortable suburban Wisconsin life—and my Western orientation, reinforced by travel to Europe the year before. 

We roomed in a sprawling farmhouse with a family participating in my dad’s study. I thought I’d experience an “English-free zone,” but the high school students all studied and wanted to practice English, so I did meet peers even though I didn’t attend their school. Of the many eye-opening, influential, cultural experiences, the one that resonates most powerfully to me is experiencing their community. It was a living, organic whole. Elementary school kids spent time helping with the rice harvest. People who foraged for seasonal wild edibles gave them to acquaintances throughout the town. In fact, there was a constant sharing of food among residents—garden veggies carried in straw baskets, fish or meat in coolers. The pharmacist would drive prescriptions to people who couldn’t easily get out—new mothers, the elderly—not as a business service but as a good neighbor. If rain suddenly threatened, neighbors would bring in each other’s drying laundry. When an empty-nest 50-year-old woman had to be hospitalized suddenly for a near-fatal snakebite, neighbors maintained her veggie patch until she returned. The community embodied constant awareness of others’ needs and circumstances. The community flowed!

Yet, people there lamented that this lifestyle was vanishing; more young people left than stayed or came. And it wasn’t idyllic: I heard about ubiquitous gossip, long-standing personal enmities, busybody-ness. But these very human foibles didn’t dam the flow. This dynamic community organism couldn’t have been more different from my suburban life back home, with its insular nuclear families. We nod hello to neighbors in passing. 

This wonderful experience contained a personal challenge. Blond and blue-eyed, I became “the other” for the first time. Except for my dad, I saw no Westerner there. Curious eyes followed me. Stepping into a market or walking down the street, I drew gazes. People swiftly looked away if they accidentally caught my eye. It was not at all hostile, I knew, but I felt like an object. I began making extra sure to appear “presentable” before going outside. The sense of being watched sometimes generated mild stress or resentment. Returning to my lovely tatami room, I would decompress, grateful to be alone. I realized this challenge was a minute fraction of what others experience in my own country. The toll that feeling—and being— “other” takes on non-white and visibly different people in the US can be extremely painful. Experiencing it firsthand, albeit briefly, benignly, and in relative comfort, I got it.

Unlike the organic Niigata community, work teams, and the workplace itself, have externally driven purposes. Within this different environment, I will strive to exemplify the ongoing mutual awareness that fueled the community life in Niigata. Does it benefit the bottom line, improve the results? I don’t know. But it helps me be the mature, engaged person I want to be, and to appreciate the individuals who are my colleagues and who comprise my professional community. I am now far more conscious of people feeling their “otherness”—even when it’s not in response to negative treatment, it can arise simply from awareness of being in some way different.

What did you think of this essay? Does this middle class Midwesterner have the unique experience of being different from the surrounding majority, something she had not experienced in the United States? Did she encounter diversity from the perspective of “the other”? 

Here a few things to note about why this diversity essay works so well:

  • The writer comes from “a comfortable, suburban, Wisconsin life,” suggesting that her own background might not be ethnically, racially, or in other ways diverse.
  • The diversity “points” scored all come from her fascinating  experience of having lived in a Japanese farm village, where she immersed herself in a totally different culture.
  • The lessons learned about the meaning of community are what broaden and deepen the writer’s perspective about life, about a purpose-driven life, and about the concept of “otherness.” 

By writing about a time when you experienced diversity in one of its many forms, you can write a memorable and meaningful diversity essay.

Working on your diversity essay?

Want to ensure that your application demonstrates the diversity that your dream school is seeking? Work with one of our admissions experts and . This checklist includes more than 30 different ways to think about diversity to jump-start your creative engines.

Related Resources:

•  Different Dimensions of Diversity , a podcast episode • What to Do if You Belong to an Overrepresented Applicant Group • Med School Admissions Advice for Nontraditional Applicants: The Experts Speak

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Rice University Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

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Rice Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

The Rice University supplemental essays play an integral role in any student’s “how to get into Rice” plan . As one of the top universities in the nation, strong Rice University supplemental essays can help set your application apart. 

This means you should plan to ace the why school essay, the why major essay, and the long essay that Rice requires. So, if you’re looking for helpful tips on the Rice supplemental essays, then you’re in the right place. 

Rice Essay: Quick Facts

  • Rice acceptance rate: 9%— U.S. News ranks Rice as a most selective school.
  • 2 (~150 word) essays
  • 1 full-page (500 word) essay
  • Rice application: Students must submit their Rice application through the Common App, Coalition App, or QuestBridge application systems. 
  • Rice essay #1 tip: We recommend using the short and long Rice University essay prompts to highlight different aspects of your experiences that you haven’t highlighted elsewhere—Rice Box image included—to help your application stand out.

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website.

Does Rice University have supplemental essays?

Yes. In addition to the personal statement that you’ll write in the Common App or Coalition App , you’ll also have to answer both short and extended Rice supplemental essays. In total, applicants will write three Rice University supplemental essays. This includes two that are 150 words and a third that is 500 words. The prompts may look familiar—namely, a why school essay and a why major essay. 

Three additional Rice University supplemental essays may sound intimidating. However, we urge you to view them as a chance to share valuable information about yourself with admissions. Beyond any single Rice University essay prompt, you will have multiple chances to shine. 

The Rice supplemental essays are available on the Common App site . You can also visit the Rice University site for a full list of application requirements, including the essay details. You might also complete an optional alumni interview to supplement your Rice supplemental essays and application.

What are the Rice University supplemental essays?

rice university supplemental essays

There are three school-specific Rice supplemental essays and an image contribution in the Rice application. The first two Rice supplemental essays each have a 150 word limit. One Rice essay is essentially a why major essay and the other Rice essay is a why school essay. 

The third of the Rice University supplemental essays allows students to choose from two different prompts. However, the prompts are relatively similar with slight nuances in their wording. Essentially, the last of the Rice University supplemental essays asks students to show how they will enrich the Rice community. This essay has a 500 word limit. 

You should use every opportunity in your Rice University supplemental essays to express yourself in a personal, engaging manner. And because each of the Rice University supplemental essays covers a different topic with a different word limit, you’ll use different strategies for each one.

Before starting your Rice University supplemental essays, do your research on Rice University. Check out our how to get into Rice guide in order to write your best Rice University supplemental essays. You may also want to read some successful college essay examples. Check out these why college essay examples for inspiration. 

Now, keep reading to learn how to tackle each of the Rice University essay prompts!

Rice University Supplemental Essay #1: Why Major Essay

The first Rice University essay prompt asks applicants to explore their academic study interests with a why major essay. If you still haven’t chosen a major , don’t worry. You are not bound to the academic area that you reference in this Rice essay. However, successful Rice University supplemental essays will need to specifically address a given field. When considering how to get into Rice, remember that you will select an academic area of interest in the application. So, start thinking about intellectual interests and browsing majors to see what matches up. 

Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. (150 words)

This Rice essay is short but sweet. At this point, your reader may have already glanced at your previous coursework and activities, as well as your personal statement . So, to add to that, what stories do you have about what you hope to study in college? The strongest Rice University supplemental essays will give readers an authentic window into an applicant’s intellectual life.

Specifically, this Rice University essay prompt lets you offer some background on an activity or experience that showcases your intellectual interests. You may choose to start your first Rice essay with an anecdote that illustrates these interests in action.

Highlight your passions

For this Rice essay, don’t be afraid to geek out about a topic and share how you have explored it in the classroom and beyond. This could be in a school club, a summer program , or a personal passion project . In fact, your description of your interests should take up most of this Rice essay—perhaps 90-120 words.

Additionally, if you don’t quite know what you’d like to study, that’s okay! Remember, the potential field or major discussed in applicants’ Rice University supplemental essays is not binding. So, use your Rice essay to talk about the thing that interests you most. 

Connect your interests to Rice

Most importantly, to wrap up your first Rice essay, connect your interests to something that Rice can do to help you excel. For example, if you have a penchant for the sciences , you might use this Rice University essay prompt to note unique research projects that previous Rice students have done with faculty. Or, if you’re interested in the humanities , you might emphasize Rice’s various unique minors like Museums and Cultural Heritage when responding to this Rice University essay prompt. This part of your Rice essay can just be a few sentences—perhaps 30-60 words. Remember to be specific about why Rice is the school for you.

Rice Essay Reflection Questions:

  • Does your draft share a narrative rather than just restating your activities list?
  • Do you limit your focus to a single field when responding to the Rice University essay prompt?
  • Does your Rice essay connect your interest to opportunities available at Rice?
  • Do you use clear and evocative language in the first of the Rice University supplemental essays?

Rice University Supplemental Essay #2: Why School Essay

While the first Rice University essay prompt asked students to write a why major essay, the second asks students “why Rice?” 

The Rice University acceptance rate is competitive at just 9% . Successful applicants will write Rice University supplemental essays that show just why they have to study at Rice. Rice University supplemental essays are your chance to show admissions that you’ve done your research and are set on Rice. 

Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 words)

This Rice University essay prompt is the classic “why school” essay . You may have encountered similar prompts on other applications. While it might be tempting to adapt a “why school” essay from another application, students will want to start from scratch to make sure their Rice University supplemental essays are as specific as possible.

No shortcuts on this Rice University essay prompt; you’ll have to do your homework. Begin by asking, “What about Rice suits you?” If you haven’t already, this Rice essay is a great chance to share if you have reached out to a current student, watched an official YouTube video , or attended an information session. And if you have not yet, it’s not too late! It all starts with a virtual tour . Do the Rice research before writing your Rice University supplemental essays so that you can speak about Rice like a pro. 

Keep it about you

However, remember that this Rice essay is still a chance for the reader to get to know you. Are there other interests that you have not been able to discuss in other parts of your application? As you approach this Rice essay prompt, as well as the other Rice supplemental essays, think about what might be missing from your application. For instance, maybe you already have written some responses to a few of your activities in the other Rice University supplemental essays. Perhaps there is another that you could highlight in this Rice essay.

Take this Rice University essay prompt as a way to share something new about yourself. When all is said and done, the admissions office at any school hopes to admit a class full of talented people with various pursuits and interests. The best Rice supplemental essays will reveal what a given student will bring to their class and community.

Before answering this Rice essay prompt, read some successful why school essays. Here are some examples of well-written essays from applicants to Northwestern and Yale .

  • Does your Rice essay draft include specific references to the academic community at Rice University?
  • Do you share how Rice’s resources connect to your personal education goals?
  • Does your Rice essay focus on just one or two aspects of Rice as they relate to your interests?

Rice Supplemental Essays – Long Answer

rice university supplemental essays

The last of the Rice University supplemental essays offers students the choice of two prompts to respond to. However, each prompt asks students to explore the way in which they will contribute to the Rice community. 

The final Rice supplemental essay prompt offers much more room to write than the other Rice University essay prompts, with a 500 word limit. It may feel overwhelming, but there are many ways to meaningfully answer this Rice essay. 

Successful Rice University supplemental essays will use the word count wisely in order to impress admissions and overcome the low Rice University acceptance rate. In fact, the best Rice University supplemental essays will thoughtfully use the word count to show applicants’ unique experiences and qualities. The room this Rice essay allows you is by design. This is your time to shine.

The Residential College System is at the heart of Rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings. What life experiences and/or unique perspectives are you looking forward to sharing with fellow Owls in the residential college system? (500 words)

You might feel that you don’t have any traditions or experiences that you can discuss with the depth that the last of the Rice University essay prompts demands. “Life experiences” and “cultural traditions” are central to this Rice essay. For some, Rice University supplemental essays may reference meaningful touchstones like holidays, food, music, and dance. 

When responding to the last of the Rice University essay prompts, try to engage your reader’s senses. What do the surroundings look, sound, smell, and feel like? Just as you might envision an opening scene of a movie, you should use this Rice essay to make the reader feel like they are right there with you. Successful Rice supplemental essays will use vivid and evocative language to tell an engaging story.

Define “community” and “culture”

That being said, you don’t need to fixate on a single anecdote to make your Rice essay shine. Successful Rice University supplemental essays may also refer to cultural traditions more broadly than any key moment. In considering your cultural background, you might initially think about your family or the fact that you will be a first-generation college student . 

However, you can also use the last of the Rice University essay prompts as an opportunity to draw connections to a wider set of themes. Community and culture manifest in a variety of forms. From school clubs to youth groups, or even online Discord channels, we all engage in communities that inform our identities. All of these communities can give you useful material for your Rice supplemental essays.

Finding your story

If you’re still struggling with how to respond to the last of the Rice University essay prompts, don’t be discouraged. Everyone has a story to share, and the Rice supplemental essays are designed to help you do so. You could start by imagining how your friends would describe you. Or, it could be helpful to think of a simple timeline of your life so far. From birth to now, consider some milestones that have contributed to who you are today. You might also describe a hero or mentor who has changed your direction. There are a myriad of experiences that successful Rice University supplemental essays could touch on when responding to this Rice University essay prompt. 

Bring it back to Rice  

Remember that while the Rice University supplemental essays should center on you and your personal experiences, however, they also need to show what you will bring to campus. When answering the first long Rice University essay prompt, make sure that you clearly state how you will bring your personal experiences, culture, and traditions to the Rice community. Will you get involved in certain clubs? Will you share your family’s holidays with your hall in the dorms? And will you bring these experiences and perspectives to the classroom?

Rice University admissions wants to learn more about how you’ll fit into the Rice community. So, use the long Rice University supplemental essays to do just that.  

Now let’s check out the second of the long Rice University supplemental essays: 

Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice? 

Remember those helpful tips on how to respond to the first of the Rice University supplemental essays prompt? Well, they can actually apply here, too. 

If responding the this prompt, students should focus on how the aspects mentioned in the prompt will make them incite change. Note how they refer to Rice’s “community of change agents.” Successful Rice University supplemental essays will show how students will contribute to this community. 

How has your background informed your future academic and career goals? What has motivated your path forward to creating change in the world and essentially leaving it a better place than it was before? Students should write on their own experiences, upbringing and (if applicable) racial identity. 

Similar to the first prompt, there are many routes that students could take when writing this essay. So, how can you choose what to write about? These essays need to be passionate and genuine. If you aren’t excited about the topic you’re writing about, then your reader won’t be, either. Remember that these Rice University supplemental essays need to truly add a new dimension to your Rice application. Namely, you want to share more about you and how you will be a perfect fit for the Rice community. 

No matter the prompt, focus on you

This Rice essay gives you up to 500 words, which lets you discuss a lot. However, successful Rice University supplemental essays will not lose sight of the fact that this essay is about applicants as individuals. If you choose to describe how other people have made an impact on your life, remember to bring it back to yourself and your experiences. Above all, your Rice essay should center on how your experiences and traditions have made you the person you are.

As with the other Rice supplemental essays, make sure you remain centered on your own story and clearly communicate this story to your readers. Though it may be tempting to wax philosophical when writing your Rice University supplemental essays, you should focus on writing explicitly about yourself and your experiences. When in doubt, be more direct while trying to engage the reader in your Rice supplemental essays. Metaphors and quotes can help ground your Rice University supplemental essays at times, but be careful not to overuse them.

How do you wrap up the conclusion of such an open, personal essay? While there is no one “correct” way to end the Rice supplemental essays, take a moment to reflect on how these experiences have made an impact on you. How would you be different without them? Where have these milestones taken you to where you have been, where you are now, and perhaps where you hope to be in the future? Successful Rice University supplemental essays will answer these questions and more.

  • Do you write between 400 and 500 words in this Rice essay?
  • Does your Rice essay center on yourself and your development?
  • Is your response to the third of the Rice University essay prompts concrete and specific?
  • If applicable, do you use specific examples of how you have shared your perspectives or learned from those of other people?

How to write Rice Supplemental Essays

Writing impactful Rice University supplemental essays that catch the attention of Rice University admissions officers may seem like a daunting task. However, the Rice supplemental essays are extremely important, especially given the low Rice University acceptance rate. 

Luckily, there are certain tips you can follow to ease the writing process when approaching the Rice University supplemental essays. 

5 Tips for Writing Rice Supplemental Essays: 

#1- be specific.

When responding to both the why school essay and the why major essay, you should be specific. One of the worst mistakes students can make in their Rice supplemental essays is being generic in their responses. When writing the Rice supplemental essays, reference specific programs and offerings only available at Rice. Also, when talking about your life experiences, describe why they are meaningful to you. It may be helpful to make a college resume in order to organize all of your important activities and draw on the most important ones when writing your Rice supplemental essays. 

#2- Provide context to the reader

Above all, your reader wants to know what makes you the person you are. The Rice supplemental essays are your chance to show the admissions team that you’re more than a statistic. Tell them who you are, what you value, and why you belong at their school. Strong Rice supplemental essays will leave the admissions committee with a clear, authentic understanding of an applicant’s background and aspirations.

#3- Choose your topics carefully

You want to be authentic and unique in your responses to the Rice University essay prompts. The topic you choose to focus on makes a huge difference as your passion will be evident in the writing. Write on themes that are genuinely exciting and impactful to you. 

#4- Start early

Give yourself plenty of time to thoughtfully and carefully respond to the Rice University essay prompts. Remember that you will be writing essays for the majority of the schools you apply to. Factor that into your college application timeline. You’ll need time to brainstorm, draft, and revise each Rice essay. 

#5- Be creative and grammatically correct

Don’t shy away from getting creative with your writing style and responses to these Rice supplemental essays. That doesn’t mean you should write a poem, but, feel free to use vivid imagery and descriptive language in order to fully immerse your reader in your subject matter. However, your writing also needs to be grammatically impeccable. Have another set of eyes look over your final Rice University supplemental essays to make sure you’ve expressed your point and have no mechanical errors. 

Additionally, if any special circumstances have influenced your academic or personal development, you may want to discuss them in your Rice University supplemental essays. This can help the admissions team gain insight into your perspective.

Additional Rice Requirements – An Image for “The Box”

rice university supplemental essays

One of Rice’s long-standing traditions is “The Box,” a question on our application where we ask all of our applicants to share an image of something that appeals to them. The Box gives you the opportunity to present us with an image that shares something about yourself, your interests or what is meaningful to you. This image is not used for evaluative purposes in the application, but allows you to put your stamp on the application about who you are aside from what you have achieved. Be sure to choose an image that speaks for itself and does not need an explanation. The Box must be a two-dimensional image that is uploaded in the Common Application or the Coalition Application, or uploaded in the Rice Admission Student Portal.

This Rice university essay prompt is not an essay at all. However, the Rice Box does a lot of the things your Rice essays do—namely, it gives the admissions team a window into who you are and what you care about.

Understandably, this unique prompt throws many students off. Remember that while the Rice Box might let you stand out, it should not detract from the effort you put into the required Rice University supplemental essays.

Don’t sweat your image choice

Notice the part of the prompt that reads, “This image is not used for evaluative purposes…and does not need an explanation.” In short, this image will not make or break your application—instead, it should be a fun addition to your overall profile.

Your submission should be able to speak for itself without a supplemental description. Some ideas for your Rice Box image might include a section of your bookshelf, a place you enjoy, an important memento, a project you enjoyed, or a hobby you mention elsewhere.

Don’t get hung up on the Rice Box! Find an image that speaks to you, and leave it at that. Then, spend the bulk of your time crafting your Rice University supplemental essays.

Rice Box Reflection Questions:

  • Is your image clear enough, while staying within the file size limit?
  • Is your image tasteful and appropriate for an academic context?
  • Does your image reveal something interesting about you?

Does Rice care about essays?

Forbes ranks Rice University as #22 on 2023 Top Colleges list and the U.S. News Best Colleges list ranks it #15. And, the Rice University acceptance rate is quite competitive at 9%. For these reasons, when considering how to get into Rice University, one of the best colleges in Texas , applicants will want to focus on making their application as competitive as possible. The Rice University supplemental essays play a vital role in the admissions process. 

Rice’s application philosophy is holistic and committee-based. That means that your Rice University supplemental essays are extremely important within the context of your Rice application narrative. Rice University admissions will evaluate applicants on more than just hitting certain academic marks. However, given the low Rice University acceptance rate, it’s important to have a good SAT score and above averag e GPA . 

Using the Rice essays to your benefit

The Rice University supplemental essays are applicants’ opportunities to share new information that they weren’t able to display in other parts of their application. In evaluating Rice essays, the admissions team also looks to see whether you’ve done your research on why Rice University is the right school for you. So, the why school essay and why major essay are extremely important in showing off the specifics of what you’ve learned about Rice. The longer Rice essay is also an excellent opportunity to point out parts of campus life and community in which you would thrive thanks to your unique background. 

Rice University admissions needs to see your understanding and enthusiasm for the university within your Rice supplemental essays. The entire Rice application is important in the admissions evaluation process, however, the Rice supplemental essays will allow Rice University admissions to get a truer picture of who you are and why you’d fit in at Rice. 

More admissions requirements for Rice University

rice university supplemental essays

Applicants working on their Rice supplemental essays will need to make sure that they meet the Rice requirements and deadlines. In addition to well-written and unique Rice University supplemental essays, applicants should aim to take rigorous academic courses throughout secondary school. GPA is an important factor as a part of the admissions process. 

Rice University is test-optional so students aren’t required to submit their standardized test scores. However, half of admitted students had scores within the range of 1490-1570. If you fall within that range, or above, submitting your scores will likely bolster your Rice application. 

Letters and interviews

Rice requires applicants to submit three letters of recommendation . These letters are extremely important within the Rice admissions evaluation process. You’ll want to ask your counselor and two teachers for their recommendations well in advance so that they have sufficient time to submit them. 

Students are able to complete optional interviews which are either with an alumnus or current Rice University senior. This is a great opportunity for applicants to learn more about the Rice experience. It also lets them share more of who they are both academically and personally. 

Addition materials for special programs

Students applying to the Shepherd School of Music , School of Architecture , or Visual and Dramatic Arts department will be required to submit additional Rice University supplemental materials. You can look at all the Rice requirements here . 

Remember that Rice partners with the QuestBridge application process. So, in addition to the Rice University supplemental essays, students should check out the match requirements when completing the application. 

Applicants should also consider the cost of college and financial aid packages when starting their college search . This should be an integral part of building a college list . So, check out Rice’s financial aid options in order to compare with other colleges as you go through the college application and eventually enrollment process. 

Rice University Supplemental Essays — Final Thoughts

As you craft your Rice essays, remember to be intentional and specific. Also, these tips are just a starting point. Every Rice University essay prompt is different, and you’ll want to examine each of them on their own terms. There are multiple ways to approach your Rice essays; as you draft, you’ll learn what works best for you.

Your Rice supplemental essays give you the creative latitude to make them your own, so use this to your advantage. There are many student success stories that come from writing strong essays that bolster a competitive application. Check out one student’s journey below and remember that you could be one too. Good luck!

Student Spotlight: Line T.

rice university diversity essay examples

This Rice supplemental essays guide was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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How to Write a College Diversity Essay – Examples & Tips

rice university diversity essay examples

What is a diversity essay for college?

If you are preparing for your college application, you have probably heard that you sometimes need to submit a “diversity essay,” and you might be wondering how this is different from the usual admission essay. A diversity essay is a college admissions essay that focuses on the applicant’s background, identity, culture, beliefs, or relationship with a specific community, on what makes an applicant unique, and on how they might bring a fresh perspective or new insights to a school’s student body. Colleges let applicants write such essays to ensure diversity in their campus communities, to improve everyone’s learning experience, or to determine who might be eligible for scholarships that are offered to students from generally underrepresented backgrounds. 

Some colleges list the essay as one of their main requirements to apply, while others give you the option to add it to your application if you wish to do so. At other schools, it is simply your “personal statement”—but the prompts you are given can make it an essay on the topic of diversity in your life and how that has shaped who you are.

To write a diversity essay, you need to think about what makes you uniquely you: What significant experiences have you made, because of your background, that might separate you from other applicants? Sometimes that is obvious, but sometimes it is easy to assume our experiences are normal just because we are part of a community that shares the same circumstances, beliefs, or experiences. But if you look at your life from the perspective of someone who is not part of that community, such as an admissions officer, they can suddenly be not-so-common and help you stand out from the crowd.

Diversity Essay Examples and Topics

Diversity essays come in all shapes and formats, but what they need to do is highlight an important aspect of your identity, background, culture, viewpoints, beliefs, goals, etc. You could, for example, write about one of the following topics:

  • Your home country/hometown
  • Your cultural/immigration background
  • Your race/ethnicity
  • Your unique family circumstances
  • Your religion/belief system
  • Your socioeconomic background
  • Your disability
  • Your sex/gender
  • Your sexual orientation
  • Your gender identity
  • Your values/opinions
  • Your experiences
  • Your extracurricular activities related to diversity

In the following, we ask some general questions to make you start reflecting on what diversity might mean for you and your life, and we present you with excerpts from several successful diversity-related application essays that will give you an idea about the range of topics you can write about.

How does diversity make you who you are as a person or student?

We usually want to fit in, especially when we are young, and you might not even realize that you and your life experiences could add to the diversity of a student campus. You might think that you are just like everyone around you. Or you might think that your background is nothing to brag about and are not really comfortable showcasing it. But looking at you and your life from the point of view of someone who is not part of your community, your background, culture, or family situation might actually be unique and interesting. 

What makes admission committees see the unique and interesting in your life is an authentic story, maybe even a bit vulnerable, about your lived experiences and the lessons you learned from them that other people who lived other lifes did not have the chance to learn. Don’t try to explain how you are different from others or how you have been more privileged or less fortunate than others—let your story do that. Keep the focus on yourself, your actions, thoughts, and feelings, and allow the reader a glimpse into your culture, upbringing, or community that gives them some intriguing insights. 

Have a look at the excerpt below from a diversity essay that got an applicant into Cornell University . This is just the introduction, but there is probably no admissions officer who would not want to keep reading after such a fascinating entry. 

He’s in my arms, the newest addition to the family. I’m too overwhelmed. “That’s why I wanted you to go to Bishop Loughlin,” she says, preparing baby bottles. “But ma, I chose Tech because I wanted to be challenged.” “Well, you’re going to have to deal with it,” she replies, adding, “Your aunt watched you when she was in high school.” “But ma, there are three of them. It’s hard!” Returning home from a summer program that cemented intellectual and social independence to find a new baby was not exactly thrilling. Add him to the toddler and seven-year-old sister I have and there’s no wonder why I sing songs from Blue’s Clues and The Backyardigans instead of sane seventeen-year-old activities. It’s never been simple; as a female and the oldest, I’m to significantly rear the children and clean up the shabby apartment before an ounce of pseudo freedom reaches my hands. If I can manage to get my toddler brother onto the city bus and take him home from daycare without snot on my shoulder, and if I can manage to take off his coat and sneakers without demonic screaming for no apparent reason, then it’s a good day. Only, waking up at three in the morning to work, the only free time I have, is not my cup of Starbucks.  Excerpt from “All Worth It”, Anonymous, published in 50 Successful IVY LEAGUE Application Essays Fourth Edition, Gen & Kelly Tanabe, SuperCollege, 2017 .

How has your identity or background affected your life?

On top of sharing a relevant personal story, you also need to make sure that your essay illustrates how your lived experience has influenced your perspective, your life choices, or your goals. If you can explain how your background or experience led you to apply to the school you want to submit the essay to, and why you would be a great fit for that school, even better. 

You don’t need to fit all of that into one short essay, though. Just make sure to end your essay with some conclusions about the things your life has taught you that will give the admissions committee a better idea of who you now are—like the author of the following (winning) admissions essay submitted to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) .

[…] I always thought that I had it the worst out of all my family members because I was never allowed to get anything lower than what my brother or a cousin had gotten in a class. My parents figured if they could do it, so could I, and if not on my own then with a little of their help. It was not until recently that I realized the truth in this. In my short life I have seen my father go from speaking no English to excelling in it. I have heard countless stories about migrant farmers such as Cesar Chavez and my grandfather who had nearly nothing, yet persisted and succeeded. […] When I had trouble speaking Spanish and felt like abandoning my native tongue, I remembered my mother and how when she came to the United States she was forced to wash her mouth out with soap and endure beatings with a ruler by the nuns at her school for speaking it. When I couldn’t figure out tangents, sines, and cosines I thought about my father and how it took him nearly a year to learn long division because he was forced to teach it to himself after dropping out and starting to work in the 4th grade. […] All these people, just from my family, have been strong role models for me. I feel that being labeled “underprivileged” does not mean that I am limited in what I can do. There is no reason for me to fail or give up, and like my parents and grandparents have done, I’ve been able to pull through a great deal. My environment has made me determined, hard working, and high aiming. I would not like it any other way. From “Lessons From the Immigration Spectrum”, Anonymous, MIT, published in 50 Successful IVY LEAGUE Application Essays Fourth Edition, Gen & Kelly Tanabe, SuperCollege, 2017 .

How will your diversity contribute to the college campus and community?

The admissions committee would like to know how your identity or background will enrich the university’s existing student body. If you haven’t done so, researching the university’s organizations and groups and what specific courses the university offers might be a good idea. If you are applying to a large public school, you could mention that you are looking forward to broadening not just your horizon but also your community. Or maybe your college of choice has a specialized program or student organization that you feel you will fit right into and that you could contribute to with your unique background.

Tailoring your answer to the university you are applying to shows that you are serious and have done your research, and a university is obviously looking for such students. If you can’t find a way to make your essay “match” the university, then don’t despair—showing the admissions committee that you are someone who already made some important experiences, has reflected on them, and is eager to learn more and contribute to their community is often all that is needed. But you also don’t need to search for the most sophisticated outro or conclusion, as the following excerpt shows, from an admission essay written by an applicant named Angelica, who was accepted into the University of Chicago . Sometimes a simple conviction is convincing enough. 

[…] The knowledge that I have gained from these three schools is something I will take with me far beyond college. My roommate, across-the-hall mates, and classmates have influenced my life as much as I hope to have impacted theirs. It is evident to me that they have helped me develop into the very much visible person I am today. I have learned to step outside of my comfort zone, and I have learned that diversity is so much more than the tint of our skin. My small mustard-colored school taught me that opportunity and success only requires desire. I would be an asset to your college because as I continue on my journey to success, I will take advantage of every opportunity that is available to me and make sure to contribute as much as I can, too. Now I am visible. Now I am visible. Now I am visible, and I want to be seen. From “No Longer Invisible” by Angelica, University of Chicago, published in 50 Successful IVY LEAGUE Application Essays Fourth Edition, Gen & Kelly Tanabe, SuperCollege, 2017 .

how to write a diversity essay, small globe being held, kids in a hallway

Tell stories about your lived experience

You might wonder how exactly to go about writing stories about your “lived experience.” The first step, after getting drawing inspiration from other people’s stories, is to sit down and reflect on your own life and what might be interesting about it, from the point of view of someone outside of your direct environment or community.

Two straightforward approaches for a diversity-related essay are to either focus on your community or on your identity . The first one is more related to what you were born into (and what it taught you), and the second one focuses on how you see yourself, as an individual but also as part of society.

Take some time to sit down and reflect on which of these two approaches you relate to more and which one you think you have more to say about. And then we’d recommend you do what always helps when we sit in front of a blank page that needs to be filled: Make a list or draw a chart or create a map of keywords that can become the cornerstones of your story.

For example, if you choose the “community” approach, then start with a list of all the communities that you are a part of. These communities can be defined by different factors:

  • A shared place: people live or work together
  • Shared actions: People create something together or solve problems together
  • Shared interests: People come together based on interests, hobbies, or goals
  • Shared circumstances: people are brought together by chance or by events

Once you have that list, pick one of your communities and start asking yourself more specific questions. For example: 

  • What did you do as a member of that community? 
  • What kinds of problems did you solve , for your community or together?
  • Did you feel like you had an impact ? What was it?
  • What did you learn or realize ? 
  • How are you going to apply what you learned outside of that community?

If, instead, you choose the “identity” approach, then think about different ways in which you think about yourself and make a list of those. For example:

My identity is as a… 

  • boy scout leader
  • hobby writer
  • babysitter for my younger siblings
  • speaker of different languages
  • collector of insightful proverbs
  • Japanese-American
  • other roles in your family, community, or social sub-group

Feel free to list as many identities as you can. Then, think about what different sides of you these identities reveal and which ones you have not yet shown or addressed in your other application documents and essays. Think about whether one of these is more important to you than others if there is one that you’d rather like to hide (and why) and if there is any struggle, for example with reconciling all of these sides of yourself or with one of them not being accepted by your culture or environment.

Overall, the most important characteristic admissions committees are looking for in your diversity essay is authenticity . They want to know who you are, behind your SATs and grades, and how you got where you are now, and they want to see what makes you memorable (remember, they have to read thousands of essays to decide who to enroll). 

The admissions committee members likely also have a “sixth sense” about whose essay is authentic and whose is not. But if you go through a creative process like the one outlined here, you will automatically reflect on your background and experiences in a way that will bring out your authenticity and honesty and prevent you from just making up a “cool story.”

Diversity Essay Sample Prompts From Colleges

If you are still not sure how to write a diversity essay, let’s have a look at some of the actual diversity essay prompts that colleges include in their applications. 

Diversity Essay Sample #1: University of California

The University of California asks applicants to choose between eight prompts (they call them “ personal insight questions “) and submit four short essays of up to 350 words each that tell the admission committee what you would want them to know about you . These prompts ask about your creative side (#2), your greatest talent (#3), and other aspects of your personality, but two of them (#5 and #7) are what could be called “diversity essay prompts” that ask you to talk about the most significant challenge you have faced and what you have done to make your community a better place .

The University of California website also offers advice on how to use these prompts and how to write a compelling essay, so make sure you use all the guidance they give you if that is the school you are trying to get into!

UC Essay prompt #5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

UC Essay prompt #7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team, or place—like your high school, hometown, or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community? Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? 

Diversity Essay Sample #2: Duke University

Duke University asks for a one-page essay in response to either one of the Common Application prompts or one of the Coalition Application prompts, as well as a short essay that answers a question specific to Duke. 

In addition, you can (but do not have to) submit up to two short answers to four prompts that specifically ask about your unique experiences, your beliefs and values, and your background and identity. The maximum word count for each of these short essays on diversity topics is 250 words.

Essay prompt #1. We seek a diverse student body that embodies the wide range of human experience. In that context, we are interested in what you’d like to share about your lived experiences and how they’ve influenced how you think of yourself. Essay prompt #2. We believe there is benefit in sharing and sometimes questioning our beliefs or values; who do you agree with on the big important things, or who do you have your most interesting disagreements with? What are you agreeing or disagreeing about? Essay prompt #3. What has been your best academic experience in the last two years, and what made it so good? Essay prompt #4. 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.

Duke University is looking for students with a variety of different experiences, backgrounds, interests, and opinions to make its campus community diverse and a place where ambition and curiosity, talent and persistence can grow, and the admissions committee will “consider what you have accomplished within the context of your opportunities and challenges so far”—make sure you tell them!

Diversity Essay Sample #3: University of Washington

The University of Washington asks students for a long essay (650 words) on a general experience that shaped your character, a short essay (300 words) that describes the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of your future university and allows you to submit additional information on potential hardships or limitations you have experienced in attaining your education so far. The University of Washington freshman writing website also offers some tips on how to (and how not to) write and format your essays.

Essay prompt [required] Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

Short response prompt [required] Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. “Community” might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW.

Additional information about yourself or your circumstances [optional] You are not required to write anything in this section, but you may include additional information if something has particular significance to you. For example, you may use this space if:

– You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education

– Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations

– You have experienced limitations/opportunities unique to the schools you attended

The University of Washington’s mission is to enroll undergraduates with outstanding intellectual abilities who bring different perspectives, backgrounds, and talents to the campus to create a “stimulating educational environment”. The diversity essay is your chance to let them know how you will contribute to that.

Diversity Essay Sample #4: University of Michigan

At the University of Michigan, a diversity college essay that describes one of the communities (defined by geography, religion, ethnicity, income, or other factors) you belong to is one of two required essays that need to be submitted by all applicants, on top of the Common Application essay. 

Diversity essay prompt. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

The University of Michigan prides itself in “looking at each student as a whole package” and recruiting the most dynamic students, with different backgrounds, interests, and passions, into their college, not just the ones with the highest test scores. They also give consideration to applicants from currently underrepresented groups to create diversity on campus and enrich the learning environment for all students—if that sounds like you, then here is your opportunity to tell your story!

Frequently Asked Questions about Diversity Essays

What topics should i avoid in my college diversity essay.

Since the point of a diversity essay is to show the admissions committee who you are (behind your grades and resume and general educational background), there are not many topics you need to avoid. In fact, you can address the issues, from your own perspective, that you are usually told not to mention in order not to offend anyone or create controversy. 

The only exception is any kind of criminal activity, especially child abuse and neglect. The University of Washington, for example, has a statement on its essay prompt website that “ any written materials that give admissions staff reasonable cause to believe abuse or neglect of someone under the age of 18 may have occurred must be reported to Child Protective Services or the police. ”

What is most important to focus on in my diversity essay?

In brief, to stand out while not giving the admissions committee any reason to believe that you are exaggerating or even making things up. Your story needs to be authentic, and admissions officers—who read thousands of applications—will probably see right through you if you are trying to make yourself sound cooler, more mature, or more interesting than you are. 

In addition, make sure you let someone, preferably a professional editor, read over your essays and make sure they are well-written and error-free. Even though you are telling your personal story, it needs to be presented in standard, formal, correct English.

How long should a diversity essay be?

Every school has different requirements for their version of a diversity essay, and you will find all the necessary details on their admissions or essay prompts website. Make sure you check the word limit and other guidelines before you start typing away!

Prepare your college diversity essay for admission

Now that you know what a diversity essay is and how you find the specific requirements for the essays you need to submit to your school of choice, make sure you plan in advance and give yourself enough time to put all your effort into it! Our article How to Write the Common App Essay can give you an idea about timelines and creative preparation methods. And as always, we can help you with our professional editing services , including Application Essay Editing Services and Admission Editing Services , to ensure that your entire application is error-free and showcases your potential to the admissions committee of your school of choice.

For more academic resources on writing the statement of purpose for grad school or on the college admission process in general, head over to our Admissions Resources website where we have many more articles and videos to help you improve your essay writing skills.

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What’s Covered:

What’s covered in a diversity essay, what is a diversity essay, examples of the diversity essay prompt, how to write the diversity college essay after the end of affirmative action, tips for writing a diversity college essay.

The Diversity Essay exists because colleges want a student body that includes different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, backgrounds, interests, and so on. The essay asks students to illuminate what sets them apart so that admissions committees can see what kind of diverse views and opinions they can bring to the campus.

In this post, we’ll be going over what exactly a diversity essay is, examples of real prompts and essays, and tips for writing a standout essay. You’ll be well prepared to answer this common essay prompt after reading this post!

Upon hearing the word diversity, many people assume that they have to write about gender and sexuality, class, or race. To many, this can feel overly personal or forced, or can cause students to worry that their identity isn’t unique or interesting enough. In reality, the diversity essay is much broader than many people realize.

Identity means different things to different people, and the important thing is that you demonstrate your uniqueness and what’s important to you. You might write about one of the classic, traditional identity features mentioned above, but you also could consider writing about a more unusual feature of yourself or your life—or even the intersection of two or more identities.

Consider these questions as you think about what to include in your diversity essay:

  • Do you have a unique or unusual talent or skill? For example, you might be a person with perfect pitch, or one with a very accurate innate sense of direction.
  • Do you have beliefs or values that are markedly different from the beliefs or values of those around you? Perhaps you hold a particular passion for scientific curiosity or truthfulness, even when it’s inconvenient.
  • Do you have a hobby or interest that sets you apart from your peers? Maybe you’re an avid birder, or perhaps you love to watch old horror movies.
  • Have you done or experienced something that few people have? Note that if you choose to write about a single event as a diverse identity feature, that event should have had a pretty substantial impact on you and your life. Perhaps you’re part of the 0.2% of the world that has run a marathon, or you’ve had the chance to watch wolves hunt in the wild.
  • Do you have a role in life that gives you a special outlook on the world? Maybe one of your siblings has a rare disability, or you grew up in a town of less than 500 people.

Of course, if you would rather write about a more classic identity feature, you absolutely should! These questions are intended to help you brainstorm and get you thinking creatively about this prompt. You don’t need to dig deep for an extremely unusual diverse facet of yourself or your personality. If writing about something like ability, ethnicity, or gender feels more representative of your life experience, that can be an equally strong choice!

You should think expansively about your options and about what really demonstrates your individuality, but the most important thing is to be authentic and choose a topic that is truly meaningful to you.

Diversity essay prompts come up in both personal statements and supplemental essays. As with all college essays, the purpose of any prompt is to better understand who you are and what you care about. Your essays are your chance to share your voice and humanize your application. This is especially true for the diversity essay, which aims to understand your unique perspectives and experiences, as well as the ways in which you might contribute to a college community.

It’s worth noting that diversity essays are used in all kinds of selection processes beyond undergrad admissions—they’re seen in everything from graduate admissions to scholarship opportunities. You may very well need to write another diversity essay later in life, so it’s a good idea to get familiar with this essay archetype now.

If you’re not sure whether your prompt is best answered by a diversity essay, consider checking out our posts on other essay archetypes, like “Why This College?” , “Why This Major?” , and the Extracurricular Activity Essay .

The best-known diversity essay prompt is from the Common App . The first prompt states:

“Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

Some schools also have individual diversity essay prompts. For example, here’s one from Duke University :

“We believe a wide range of personal perspectives, beliefs, and lived experiences are essential to making Duke a vibrant and meaningful living and learning community. Feel free to share with us anything in this context that might help us better understand you and what you might bring to our community.” (250 words)

And here’s one from Rice :

“Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice?” (500 words)

In all instances, colleges want you to demonstrate how and what you’ll contribute to their communities.

In June 2023, the Supreme Court overturned the use of affirmative action in college admissions, meaning that colleges are no longer able to directly factor race into admissions decisions. Despite this ruling, you can still discuss your racial or ethnic background in your Common App or supplemental essays.

If your race or ethnic heritage is important to you, we strongly recommend writing about it in one of your essays, as this is now one of the only ways that admissions committees are able to consider it as a factor in your admission.

Many universities still want to hear about your racial background and how it has impacted you, so you are likely to see diversity essays show up more frequently as part of supplemental essay packets. Remember, if you are seeing this kind of prompt, it’s because colleges care about your unique identity and life experience, and believe that these constitute an important part of viewing your application holistically. To learn more about how the end of affirmative action is impacting college admissions, check out our post for more details .

1. Highlight what makes you stand out.

A common misconception is that diversity only refers to aspects—such as ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. While these are standard measures of diversity, you can be diverse in other ways. These ways includes (but aren’t limited to) your:

  • Interests, hobbies, and talents
  • Perspectives, values, and opinions
  • Experiences
  • Personality traits

Ask yourself which aspects of your identity are most central to who you are. Are these aspects properly showcased in other portions of your application? Do you have any interests, experiences, or traits you want to highlight?

For instance, maybe you’re passionate about reducing food waste. You might love hiking and the outdoors. Or, maybe you’re a talented self-taught barber who’s given hundreds of free haircuts in exchange for donations to charity.

The topic of your essay doesn’t have to be crazy or even especially unique. You just want to highlight whatever is important to you, and how this thing shapes who you are. You might still want to write about a more common aspect of identity. If so, there are strong ways to do so.

If you do choose to write about a more common trait (for example, maybe your love of running), do so in a way that tells your story. Don’t just write an ode to running and how it’s stress-relieving and pushes you past your limits. Share your journey with us⁠—for instance, maybe you used to hate it, but you changed your mind one day and eventually trained to run a half marathon. Or, take us through your thought process during a race. The topic in itself is important, but how you write about it is even more important.

2. Share an anecdote.

One easy way to make your essay more engaging is to share a relevant and related story. The beginning of your essay is a great place for that, as it draws the reader in immediately. For instance, the following student chose to write about their Jewish identity, and opened the essay with a vivid experience of being discriminated against:

“I was thirsty. In my wallet was a lone $10 bill, ultimately useless at my school’s vending machine. Tasked with scrounging together the $1 cost of a water bottle, I fished out and arranged the spare change that normally hid at the bottom of my backpack in neat piles of nickels and dimes on my desk. I swept them into a spare Ziploc and began to leave when a classmate snatched the bag and held it above my head.

“Want your money back, Jew?” she chanted, waving the coins around. I had forgotten the Star-of-David around my neck, but quickly realized she must have seen it and connected it to the stacks of coins. I am no stranger to experiencing and confronting antisemitism, but I had never been targeted in my school before.”

An anecdote allows readers to experience what you’re describing, and to feel as if they’re there with you. This can ultimately help readers better relate to you.

Brainstorm some real-life stories relevant to the trait you want to feature. Possibilities include: a meaningful interaction, achieving a goal, a conflict, a time you felt proud of the trait (or ashamed of it), or the most memorable experience related to the trait. Your story could even be something as simple as describing your mental and emotional state while you’re doing a certain activity.

Whatever you decide on, consider sharing that moment in media res , or “in the middle of things.” Take us directly to the action in your story so we can experience it with you.

3. Show, don’t tell.

If you simply state what makes you diverse, it’s really easy for your essay to end up sounding bland. The writer of the previous essay example could’ve simply stated “I’m Jewish and I’ve had to face antisemitism.” This is a broad statement that doesn’t highlight their unique personal experiences. It doesn’t have the same emotional impact.

Instead, the writer illustrated an actual instance where they experienced antisemitism, which made the essay more vivid and easier to relate to. Even if we’re not Jewish ourselves, we can feel the anger and pain of being taunted for our background. This story is also unique to the writer’s life⁠—while others may have experienced discrimination, no one else will have had the exact same encounter.

As you’re writing, constantly evaluate whether or not you’re sharing a unique perspective. If what you write could’ve been written by someone else with a similar background or interest, you need to get more granular. Your personal experiences are what will make your essay unique, so share those with your reader.

4. Discuss how your diversity shapes your outlook and actions.

It’s important to describe not only what your unique traits and experiences are, but also how they shape who you are. You don’t have to explicitly say “this is how X trait impacts me” (you actually shouldn’t, as that would be telling instead of showing). Instead, you can reveal the impact of your diversity through the details you share.

Maybe playing guitar taught you the importance of consistent effort. Show us this through a story of how you tackled an extremely difficult piece you weren’t sure you could handle. Show us the calluses on your fingers, the knit brows as you tinkered with the chords, the countless lessons with your teacher. Show us your elation as you finally performed the piece.

Remember that colleges learn not just about who you are, but also about what you might contribute to their community. Take your essay one step farther and show admissions officers how your diversity impacts the way you approach your life.

Where to Get Your Diversity Essay Edited

Do you want feedback on your diversity essay? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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We consider Houston an essential part of the education we offer to students as an urban university. With more than 145 languages spoken here in the fourth largest city, Rice places students directly in the center of one of the most diverse, culturally rich cities in America.

145 Different Languages are Spoken

145 Different Languages

We're an international city, and that's reflected in the people who call Houston home. In any area of Houston, you may hear a dozen languages all at the same time.

No. 1 Race/Class Interaction

Student-Athlete Honor Roll

Rice's campus isn't isolated from our Houston community, but rather reflects it in our student body. Because of our deep belief in our culture of care, students form communities across campus that create lasting bonds. Princeton Review, 2023

One of the largest Pride celebrations in the country

Research Funding Per Year

Everything is bigger in Texas - and our Pride celebration is just one example of that. No matter where you turn, you'll find that Rice's uniquely accepting culture means you'll always have somewhere you belong.

DEMONSTRATING OUR COMMITMENT

The Rice commitment to cultural inclusiveness is not represented merely in numerical terms. It is much more. It represents a way of thinking, seeing, and behaving that demonstrates a learned understanding and respect for all ethnic and cultural traditions. Cultural inclusiveness at Rice embodies the University’s commitment to an atmosphere of civility and rich dialogue where these various traditions can contribute to a sharing of perspectives in the pursuit of scholarship and truth. It includes the acknowledgment -- both individual and collective -- of those ethnic or racial groups whose contributions to the history of our nation and the University deserve far more recognition than they have been accorded in the past. It also includes the recognition and celebration of the cultural differences that bind together the Rice community.

Learn more about a few of our efforts:

Rice salutes Martin Luther King Jr. »

The Council on Diversity and Inclusion »

Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice »

Alexander Byrd, Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion »

Rice leaders affirm commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion »

FEATURED SUPPORT RESOURCES & PROGRAMS

Organizations.

  • DIVERSITY FACILITATORS
  • MULTICULTURAL STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS
  • THE TAPIA CENTER
  • CRITICAL DIALOGUES ON DIVERSITY
  • STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVES

Helpful Links

713-348-7423

[email protected]

M-F 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT

Shield

Welcome to Rice University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Our office seeks to support and guide the university in fulfilling its mission of cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery by facilitating a campus environment that promotes diversity, inclusion and academic achievement through active engagement with all areas of campus life.

DEI Events Current Events

This is Rice

At Rice, we view diversity, equity and inclusion as a central and meaningful part of the overall university experience. We believe these values increase the vitality of everything we do – education, scholarship, service and community.

Celebrating 50 Years of Black Undergraduates

Uniquely accepting community, finding his place, shared passion .

Were you invited to be a member of the Greater Houston Community Panel?

VIEW MORE OF OUR STORIES

Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Campus location.

Allen Center, Suite 330 6100 Main Street Houston, TX 77005

Mailing Address

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, MS-3 Rice University PO Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892

Contact Information

713.348.5688 (phone) 713.348.5759 (fax) [email protected]

Rice University essay examples?

Hey y'all! I'm currently working on my application for Rice and struggling a bit with the essays. Can anyone share examples or tips on what they wrote for their Rice University essays? I really want to make my application stand out. Thanks in advance!

Hey! I can understand how you might be struggling with the essays, but don't worry, you're not alone! While I can't share any specific essay examples, I can share some tips and advice to help you make your essays stand out to the Rice admissions committee. Keep in mind that every applicant is unique, so you should only use general guidelines and make your essays personal and authentic to you.

1. Know your audience: Rice is a prestigious university with a strong focus on interdisciplinary learning, community engagement, and a collaborative atmosphere. When writing your essays, try to show how your personal values and experiences align with these qualities.

2. Be specific: Talk about specific programs, activities, or opportunities at Rice that you're interested in participating in or contributing to. This demonstrates that you've done your research on the university and are truly interested in attending Rice.

3. Show your authentic self: Admission officers want to know about your personal qualities, passions, and experiences that are not easily visible through your academic achievements and extracurricular participation. Share personal anecdotes and reflections that give a glimpse into who you are as an individual.

4. Avoid cliches: While it might be tempting to write about widely popular topics such as sports victories or community service trips, try to choose essay topics that are more unique to you and showcase different aspects of your personality and experiences.

5. Keep it concise and focused: Admissions officers read thousands of essays, so make sure your essays are well-organized and concise. Address the essay prompts directly and avoid going off on tangents or being too long-winded.

6. Revise, revise, revise: Your first draft likely won't be perfect, so don't hesitate to seek constructive feedback from teachers, friends, family members, or even college counselors. Make sure to revise your essays multiple times to ensure they are well-written and free of typos or errors.

As an example, for Rice's "Why us" prompt, if you're interested in studying Environmental Engineering, you could mention specific research opportunities offered through the Rice Environmental Engineering Program, such as the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center. You could also discuss the residential college system and how you feel it would support your academic endeavors and foster a sense of community.

Remember, the main goal of your essays is to present a compelling portrait of you as an individual and show how you would contribute to and benefit from the Rice University community. Best of luck with your application process!

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rice university diversity essay examples

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rice university diversity essay examples

Rice University Supplemental Essay Examples

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Did you know Rice University is ranked number one for the happiest students? In fact, one of their supplemental essays is to get to know the students.

rice university diversity essay examples

Rice University Supplemental Essay Prompt:

The quality of rice’s academic life and the residential college system are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. what personal perspective would you contribute to life at rice? (500 word limit)

Not sure how to approach it? Here are 4 essay example excerpts from students who were accepted to Rice:

rice university diversity essay examples

Rice University ‘19

I only use my Jamaican impression to break the ice. Then, on subsequent days, I will pull out another international accent. I master accents with the help of my guru, Youtube, and then try them out in public stores to give them a societal stamp of approval. I have been relatively successful, except the time I was asked if I was on something. I can assure you that I was on the ground. View more.

Welcometohel

While most of my friends went on vacations or picked up research internships at local universities, I spent my last two summers surrounded by pool water. This wasn’t particularly new: I’ve been a competitive swimmer since the age of five, but what really made my perfume of chlorine worth it was when I finally got a real job. Keep reading.

rice university diversity essay examples

Rice University ‘20

Asian students are a model minority stereotyped as hardworking students who only study, in an endless bid for personal gain. Although I am of Chinese descent, and I am hardworking, I am certainly not in it to win it all for myself. I realize as a middle-class American, I’m better off economically than 99.5% of people on the planet. That is sheer luck! I am grateful for all of it, and I am looking to use my skills and honed abilities, that I will refine or acquire from Rice, to give back. Read more.

Columbia University ‘20

The smooth black ink seeped from my brush into the velvety rice paper, as if I was pouring energy into my painting, giving it the ingredients to come to life. Concentrate and breathe. With Chinese brush painting, there are no second chances. Before the hairs of the brush even came into contact with the surface, my mind already envisioned the stroke, giving my motions fluid confidence and resolution upon application to the paper. Like stiff bamboo stems, my brush had to be strong and firm. Or like soft, silky petals of an orchid, my brush had to be supple and tender. A single drop of water in excess could cause the paint to bloom across the paper in a spiteful stain, ruining the focus and vitality of the painting. Read full essay.  

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Interested in reading these students full personal statements, and their Rice supplemental essay? Unlock all of them in one go with  our curated package ! 

rice university diversity essay examples

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About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

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rice university diversity essay examples

  • College Application

College Diversity Essay Examples

College Diversity Essay Examples

Institutions of higher learning want to recognize diversity and support students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, making college diversity essay examples more relevant than ever. Your diversity secondary essay will make a big difference in your application, and looking at expertly written essays will help you immensely.

We at BeMo believe that everybody deserves a fair and equal shot at higher education, which is why it is important to us to make sure that persons from underrepresented backgrounds aren’t being left behind.

To that end, we are going to show several examples of diversity essays, with prompts selected from different educational institutions, in addition to giving you general expert college essay tips and a section on how to approach diversity essays specifically.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 11 min read

Essay examples.

These essay prompts are taken from various schools as well as the Common App*, and each one will deal with a different kind of diversity. Some of these prompts remark directly on diversity, while others are simply open, or hint at a connection.

*The Common Application is a centralized system used by many schools to streamline the application process.

NYU Supplemental Essay Example (Common App)

Prompt: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

Word limit: 250-650 words. Aim for about 500 words.

The labels that I bear are hung from me like branches on a tree: disruptive, energetic, creative, loud, fun, easily distracted, clever, a space cadet, a problem … and that tree has roots called ADHD. The diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder made a lot of sense when it was handed down. I was diagnosed later than other children, probably owing to my sex, which is female; people with ADHD who are female often present in different ways from our male counterparts and are just as often missed by psychiatrists.

Over the years, these labels served as either a badge or a bludgeon, keeping me from certain activities, ruining friendships, or becoming elements of my character that I love about myself and have brought me closer to people I care about. Every trait is a double-edged sword.

The years that brought me to where I am now have been strange and uneven. I had a happy childhood, even if I was a “handful” for my parents. As I grew and grew in awareness of how I could be a problem, I developed anxiety over behavior I simply couldn’t control. With the diagnosis, I received relief, and yet, soon I was thinking of myself as broken, and I quickly attributed every setback to my neurological condition.

I owe much to my ADHD. I have found my paintbrushes to be superb catalysts for the cornucopia of ideas in my mind. I have always known how to have a great time, and my boundless energy has contributed to winning several medals while playing basketball.

My ADHD owes much to me, too. I have received several cards in basketball because I got “agitated.” My grades throughout elementary school – before I had good coping mechanisms and medications – look like yo-yos. Of course, I also have social troubles that I lay at the feet of my brain being wrong.

I have a wrong brain. I am wrong-brained. Imagine carrying that around as a child or as a teenager. I had to.

Only recently did I change my wrong-mind to a right-mind. The way I did it was simple: I stopped thinking of myself as having a brain that was wrong. I have a brain that is different. It supplies me with hurdles and the ability to leap over those hurdles. Sometimes I need extra help, but who doesn’t in one way or another? 

These days, I don’t even like to think of my ADHD as a “neurological condition,” because I just want to feel like it’s a part of me, and of course, it is.

I have recently been volunteering at a mental health resource center, trying to spread that worldview. I believe that it is important to help people with different minds. Part of how we need to do that is by normalizing being abnormal. We are all strange and different. My version of difference happens to be in my mind, and it has a label. So, let’s all be kind and generous to each other and our wonderful, divergent differences.

Prompt: “Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.”

Word limit: This particular prompt from Harvard is not given a word limit, but we recommend you aim for about 600 words.

Every morning I ride through the park on my bicycle, past a group of yoga practitioners who are connecting with nature in their trendy yoga pants. They're being taught by a tranquil-faced twenty-something with an asymmetrical haircut and a smart phone playing nature sounds. Saying “Namaste,” before rushing home to take the kids to school, they’ll probably buy flavored macchiatos on the way.

I’m not offended, although as a Hindu I have every right to be; I just think that they are probably missing the point of something very profound and important to me. I was taught yoga by my grandfather, who I always thought looked one hundred years old, no matter what he really was.

He would get me up at dawn, and I would complain, but doing the poses did awaken me, stretch my limbs, and move me into a more centered place. Most importantly, he taught me to hold on to that centered place for the rest of the day, to make sure that I carried my yoga with me.

I did carry it with me, too, past shops selling incense and yoga mats, past music stores with baby boomer rock stars who played sitar as a fad, and past a thousand other places that reminded me that my culture was a commodity, my religion a self-help rubber stamp. Lately, it has been my bicycle ride through the park taking me past this yoga group, who I don’t want to disparage too much, because maybe some of them are taking it seriously, but it doesn’t look that way, and it really doesn’t feel that way.

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Prompt: “In 20XX, we faced a national reckoning on racial injustice in America - a reckoning that continues today. Discuss how this has affected you, what you have learned, or how you have been inspired to be a change agent around this important issue.”

Word limit: 400 words, max.

I’m angry and I’m tired of pretending otherwise. There have been too many riots, too many marches, too many people shouting into uncaring ears when Black people get treated the way we do. How many dead fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters have to move from the front page of the news to the bottom of the social media feed before we get recognized and listened to. I just want to be heard. I have given up on the idea of waking up in a world where I am not afraid, angry, and weary. Maybe that world is for my grandkids, or my great-grandkids, but not me.

My mother and my father, my aunts and uncles, they were all very active in the protests – often at the front of the line – and they did not come through unscathed. They had bruises and blood spilt, they had broken bones. I know they will return to that battlefield, to protest peacefully until they cannot maintain that rank any longer. From these noble people I received my sense of righteous anger. But I also got good advice on how to use it well.

They know that protests are one thing, but action is another, and my mind has been geared toward law school for some time now, because I wanted to bring about the major changes that are needed for our society to move on. So, in addition to protests, I have been taking pre-law courses, and I have acquired a part-time job in the law firm where my uncle works, and while it is a small, office job, I get to spend a lot of time with my uncle learning about how to bring positive change by fighting big and little battles. Of course, he is also showing me how to fight those battles.

Anger alone isn’t going to settle anything, which is why I believe in making a better world with my actions and rhetoric. But I am still frustrated and furious, and while I am trying to find a hopeful place to get to, I’ll repeat that I don’t think we’ll see the better world I want. Maybe our grandkids, but not us. Hold on to that, get angry, and join me in pushing forward for them.

Princeton Supplemental Essay Example

Prompt: “At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?”

Word limit: 250 words

Coming out was harder than I thought it would be. In the months previous, when I knew that I was gay, and when I knew that I wanted to tell my family, I was worried about their reactions. I hoped that they would be supportive, and I suspected that they would be, but it wasn’t just the event that was difficult, it was the next day and the day after that.

One conversation would have been painful but quick, like the proverbial bandage being ripped off. But this was interminable and killing me with kindness. My parents asked little questions or made showy gestures about caring in the days that followed, and the experience wound up lasting several months.

The insight I gained is that we think of life in terms of gateposts and events, but all things take time, and most have a build-up and cool-down surrounding them. Expecting to have something momentous take place in one afternoon was naïve.

Moving forward, I understand that the real problem was thinking of this as an event at all, and it’s not, it’s just who I am, which means I carry it around with me and I have no other recourse. I believe this will serve me well, because it will help me have ongoing conversations instead of quick talks that I wrap up and put away.

That’s better; my life is not a series of tough moments, it is ongoing.

The main thing to do with a diversity essay is to remain focused. First, focus on your subject, and keep in mind that the subject isn’t actually “diversity.” That sounds weird, but remember that this is always about you and the institution you’re applying to. They want to hear about your life, your experiences, and how you connect with their program.

To that end, make sure that you talk about your experiences beyond a general push for diversity. Of course, it’s easy to get behind ideas that are inclusive, but you have a central purpose here.

The second focus is to keep yourself on target with what kind of diversity you’re talking about. You can bring in multiple ways you fit the description of “diverse,” but your essay may be a fairly short one, so focus on one central theme or idea.

There are many different ways that you can be diverse or have a worldview that fits these prompts. Diversity is often thought of in terms of race, sexuality, and gender, but it could also mean neurodivergence, living with a disability, sex, religion, or nationality. With most prompts, diversity could be anything that sets you apart, such as growing up in unusual circumstances. Perhaps you moved a lot as a child, grew up on a military base, or were raised in the foster care system. Before assuming that diversity essays don’t apply to you, check the exact wording of the prompt and really contemplate your background.

Many essays ask about your experiences with diversity, so you might have a friend or relative who fits one or more of these categories; if you have a personal connection and experience with that person, you can speak to that in an essay.

Exploring your diversity, or your experiences with diversity, is the key to success in writing your own diversity essay. Dig deep and share your genuine experiences. The operative word here is “genuine”: do not, under any circumstances, fake this essay. Any falsehood in an application is unacceptable, and co-opting another underrepresented group’s diversity is disrespectful. There is enough room in most prompts to account for your particular branch of diversity without pretending to be someone else.

Want to review more advice for college essays? Take a look at this video:

Essay Writing Tips

When we speak more generally, not just of diversity essays in particular, but with respect to how to write a college essay , most of the rules are going to be more or less the same as with other prompts.

Of course, your approach to how to start a college essay , whether specific to the diversity prompts or not, remains the same: open with your “hook,” the line that snares any reader, ideally even ones who aren’t on the admissions committee. If you open well, you grab your reader’s attention and bring them along for the ride.

After that, follow basic essay structure, including a body to explore your ideas and a conclusion to wrap up.

One way to polish your essay is to make sure that your paragraphs transition nicely into one another – pay extra attention to the flow of your material. Another elite polish tip is to mirror your opening line with your closing, at least in terms of fulfilling the promise of whatever your opening line spoke of.

Inclusion is of maximal importance. Get yourself recognized at your top-choice school with our tips and sample college essays . By working with these prompts, and within the application streams for underrepresented students, you are giving yourself the agency to move forward into a more diverse future.

Everything depends on the individual school’s prompt. If the prompt is mandatory, you write the essay, even if you only have an outsider’s connection. Many schools have optional diversity essays, or reserve them for students from certain backgrounds. In those cases, only write the essay if you feel it is appropriate for you to do so. This might change based on the wording of the prompt. Some prompts invite students with “connections” to diverse communities to respond, which means that you might not be a member of an underrepresented community, but you could be a supporter, activist, or close friend or family member of those communities. Still other prompts cast a wide net for potential types of diversity, which means you might fit into one based on your experiences, even if you don’t immediately think of yourself as fitting in.

If the essay prompt applies to you, or if it is mandatory, write the essay.

Not necessarily. Obviously, if the essay is optional and does not apply to you, your chances remain the same. However, many institutions have programs for underrepresented students, and benefitting from them may depend on writing a diversity statement. In other words, it’s required. In general, we recommend that you take every opportunity offered to make your application stand out, and producing a thoughtful diversity statement or optional essay is an effective way to do that.

As listed above, there are many possibilities. Race, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion, and sex are some of the categories you might fit into which apply to these essays. If you don’t fit into those categories, you might still be considered diverse based on any experience which sets you apart and gives you a unique background, life, or circumstance, which means that most diversity prompts have a very wide net.

Essays are typically only seen by admissions committees. If the institution wants to use your essay as an example essay, they would need to ask you first. Sharing your essay would require permission.

If you are particularly worried, contact your school and ask about their confidentiality policies, or specifically ask that they do not disclose your essay’s contents.

Try not to worry; these programs are set up for people like you, and the administrations are understanding and sympathetic to your situation. They certainly do not want to hurt you.

You just have to share your authentic connection with diversity. If you have negative emotions or experiences tied to that aspect of yourself, of course you are allowed to share them. Speaking to the frustration, anger, anxiety, and other debilitating emotions around racial violence, for example, is not off the table. You highlight yourself, your diversity, and your connection to the school – that’s it. Don’t feel like you need to hide your personal experiences to play nice or seem “positive.”

No, some do not. Most have essays geared toward your background generally, which can often provide an opportunity to talk about your diversity, but it would not be required. Keep in mind that more general background essays, like personal statements or the near-ubiquitous, “Why this school?” essays, will need more focus on academics or career goals. Diversity essays can be more focused on your own personal experiences.

All admissions essays are personal to some degree. Diversity essays will touch on the essence of yourself, so they will be more personal than a lot of others. Getting personal will also help to show the admissions committee who you really are and why you really need to attend their institution.

Most of the time, yes. Many prompts are open-ended and would allow you to bring that aspect of yourself forward - in your personal statement, for instance. Some application processes, such as the Common or Coalition Applications, have a prompt that allows you to select your own topic.

Definitely write a diversity essay if you believe that is the best way to show your unique individuality and how you will add to the fabric of the school to which you are applying.

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rice university diversity essay examples

Home — Essay Samples — Life — Thanksgiving — Rice for Thanksgiving: Celebrating Diversity in Festive Feasts

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Rice for Thanksgiving: Celebrating Diversity in Festive Feasts

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Published: Sep 5, 2023

Words: 545 | Page: 1 | 3 min read

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Rice as a global staple, celebrating culinary diversity, fostering unity through food, embracing change and growth, conclusion: embracing diversity at the table.

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    rice university diversity essay examples

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  1. How to Write the Rice University Essays 2023-2024

    Rice considers diversity of perspective and experience fundamental to the success of the Residential College System, so your response should demonstrate how you would add to this system and the broader Rice community. Although the question is framed around the Residential College System, this is a classic example of the Diversity Essay. That ...

  2. 2 Rice University Essay Examples

    Example 2. Prompt: Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System and undergraduate life are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings.

  3. Tips and Examples for Writing your Rice University Supplements

    Rice University is the only college or university in the state of Texas that isn't on Apply Texas. Rice accepts the Common or Coalition Application. In addition to the required 650-word long essay, each first-time freshman applicant must submit responses to three supplements: discuss your major, Why Rice and a diversity essay linked to their ...

  4. How to Write the Rice University Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide

    How to write each prompt for Rice University. Prompt #1: "Why major" essay. Prompt #2: "Why us" essay. Prompt #3: Multiple options essay. Prompt #4: "Why architecture" essay. Prompt #5: "Why architecture" essay (non-academic) "The Box". If you've already written supplemental essays for your college applications, chances are you've written ...

  5. Rice University Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    1. Understanding the Essence of Rice University Supplemental Essays 2023-2024. To commence the effective revision and proofreading process, applicants must intimately grasp the essence of the Rice University supplemental essays for 2023-2024. This involves thoroughly comprehending the prompts, ensuring that each response precisely addresses the ...

  6. 6 Diversity College Essay Examples

    How to Write the Diversity Essay After the End of Affirmative Action. Essay #1: Jewish Identity. Essay #2: Being Bangladeshi-American. Essay #3: Marvel vs DC. Essay #4: Leadership as a First-Gen American. Essay #5: Protecting the Earth. Essay #6: Music and Accents. Where to Get Your Diversity Essays Edited.

  7. Rice University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    Rice University 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations. The Requirements: 2 essays of 150 words; 1 essay of 500 words; 1 image. Supplemental Essay Type (s): Community, Why, Diversity. The Admission Committee is interested in getting to know each student as well as possible through the application process.

  8. 5 Tips for Writing the Perfect Rice Essay Supplement

    Both options are essentially a diversity essay prompt. But let's discuss one prompt at a time. Option 1: The Residential College System is at the heart of Rice student life and is heavily influenced by the particular cultural traditions and unique life experiences each student brings.

  9. Cultural Diversity Essay

    The cultural diversity essay also lets you describe what type of " diversity " you would bring to campus. We'll also highlight a diversity essay sample for three college applications. These include the Georgetown application essay, Rice application essay, and Williams application essay. We'll provide examples of diversity essays for ...

  10. How to Write a Diversity Essay

    Keep the focus on you. Tell a story about how your background, identity, or experience has impacted you. While you can briefly mention another person's experience to provide context, be sure to keep the essay focused on you. Admissions officers are mostly interested in learning about your lived experience, not anyone else's.

  11. Rice University Supplemental Essays 2023-24

    He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). College Transitions looks at the Rice supplemental essays for the 2023-24 cycle. Our team offers advice for creating winning compositions.

  12. Rice University Essay Guide 2020-2021

    Here, Rice University is asking the classic "Why College" question - but again, with only 150 words, you'll need a succinct answer. Like all "why college" prompts, your response should be focused as detailed as possible. In fact, your essay should be so specific, that it couldn't describe any college other than Rice University.

  13. Rice Supplement Essays! : r/riceuniversity

    And if possible could I read a few samples of this supplement. Rice selects people based on way more than just academic performance. Admissions want to know how an individual will contribute to the "culture" of Rice. In addition, there is much, much more to you as a person than you would be able to describe in the other essays.

  14. Writing an Excellent Diversity Essay

    Take a look at this sample diversity essay, and pay attention to how the writer underscores their appreciation for and experience with diversity. Diversity essay example. When I was starting 11th grade, my dad, an agricultural scientist, was assigned to a 3-month research project in a farm village in Niigata (northwest Honshu in Japan). Rather ...

  15. Rice University Supplemental Essays

    Rice Supplemental Essays 2023-2024. The Rice University supplemental essays play an integral role in any student's "how to get into Rice" plan.As one of the top universities in the nation, strong Rice University supplemental essays can help set your application apart.. This means you should plan to ace the why school essay, the why major essay, and the long essay that Rice requires.

  16. How to Write a College Diversity Essay

    Diversity Essay Sample #2: Duke University. Duke University asks for a one-page essay in response to either one of the Common Application prompts or one of the Coalition Application prompts, as well as a short essay that answers a question specific to Duke. In addition, you can (but do not have to) submit up to two short answers to four prompts ...

  17. The Diversity College Essay: How to Write a Stellar Essay

    Tips for Writing a Diversity College Essay. 1. Highlight what makes you stand out. A common misconception is that diversity only refers to aspects—such as ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. While these are standard measures of diversity, you can be diverse in other ways.

  18. Diversity

    713-348-7423. Fostering diversity and an intellectual environment, Rice University is a comprehensive research university located on a 300-acre tree-lined campus in Houston, Texas. Rice produces the next generation of leaders and advances tomorrow's thinking.

  19. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    At Rice, we view diversity, equity and inclusion as a central and meaningful part of the overall university experience. ... Rice University PO Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892. Contact Information. 713.348.5688 (phone) 713.348.5759 (fax) [email protected]. Home About Team Partners Initiatives Resources MCC Report Bias This is Rice Donate BACK TO TOP ...

  20. Rice University essay examples?

    Hey! I can understand how you might be struggling with the essays, but don't worry, you're not alone! While I can't share any specific essay examples, I can share some tips and advice to help you make your essays stand out to the Rice admissions committee. Keep in mind that every applicant is unique, so you should only use general guidelines and make your essays personal and authentic to you.

  21. Rice University Supplemental Essay Examples

    Columbia University '20. The smooth black ink seeped from my brush into the velvety rice paper, as if I was pouring energy into my painting, giving it the ingredients to come to life. Concentrate and breathe. With Chinese brush painting, there are no second chances. Before the hairs of the brush even came into contact with the surface, my ...

  22. College Diversity Essay Examples

    NYU Supplemental Essay Example (Common App) Prompt: "Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.". Word limit: 250-650 words.

  23. Rice for Thanksgiving: Celebrating Diversity in Festive Feasts: [Essay

    In this essay, we explore the significance of incorporating rice, a staple food from various cultures, into Thanksgiving feasts as a way to celebrate diversity and foster a deeper sense of unity. Say no to plagiarism.

  24. Pathogens

    In order to understand the pathogenicity differentiation of rice blast fungus (Pyricularia oryzae Cavara), a total of 206 isolates of P. oryzae were collected from three Japonica rice regions in Jilin Province, northeast China. Pathogenicity test showed that the reaction pattern of 25 monogenic differential varieties (MDVs) of rice (Oryza sativa L.) demonstrated a wide pathogenic diversity ...