Create your Diversity Weekend Table: Pictured to the right are 3 of our cohort students, photographed during the diversity weekend at Williams College. Kimberly is a 2nd-year from Georgia, Etame is a high school senior from Florida who was invited to the diversity weekend and subsequently offered admission, and Loren, a 1st-year from Georgia.

The following instructions will guide you in creating a copy of the Diversity Weekend Table:

  • Ensure that you are logged into your Google Account.
  • Click here to access the ‘Diversity Weekend Table.’ 
  • Select ‘Make a copy’ from the File menu and make a copy of the document. Replace ‘Copy of Form [Your Name]’ with your name so that the new name of the document is ‘John Smith – Diversity Weekend Table.’ 
  • Select ‘SHARE’ in the upper right hand corner of your screen and enter the email addresses of all of the people to whom your document is to be shared, such as the course instructor (, your mentor or facilitator, and your parent(s).

Lesson 1: Most colleges and universities have active recruitment and outreach programs. Each college establishes a profile of the type of freshman class it is interested in structuring, i.e., academic performance, diversity, gifts, talents, and student interests. To accomplish these goals, colleges engage in email and mailing campaigns, participate in college fairs, host recruitment weekends, visit secondary schools, and engage in a variety of outreach programs. Some institutions host annual Diversity Days or Weekends to recruit students from diverse racial, socioeconomic, and geographical backgrounds who meet the institution’s admissions criteria.

  • Research: Over 60 Diversity Weekend Programs are listed in the “College Fly-In & Diversity Programs” article on the College Greenlight website:
  • Click here to review a partial listing of Diversity Weekend Opportunities
  • Perform an Internet search on the names of your desired colleges + diversity weekend (e.g., cornell diversity weekend)
  • Record the information pertaining to your colleges of interest on the Diversity Weekend Table.

Lesson 2:Creating a High Quality Application. Selective colleges may receive nearly 4,000 applicants for the 200 invitations being extended to students. Consequently, the Diversity Weekend acceptance rate may be lower than the college’s actual admission rate. For many institutions, students invited to their Diversity Weekend are such highly competitive candidates for admission that students who later choose to apply for admission are accepted at a much higher rate than the general applicant pool.

  • Academic Performance: Since many Diversity Weekend applications are submitted during the spring of a student’s junior year of high school, it is advantageous to have attained high scores on the PSAT, SAT, ACT, AP, of IB exams; having earned high grades in 9-11 grade classes; and being on track to take a rigorous 12th grade course schedule.
  • Essay: Essays submitted with Diversity Weekend applications will undergo the same scrutiny as actual college admissions essays. While your academic information may qualify you to apply for the program, your essay may be the determining factor as to whether or not you are selected for the program and should not be taken likely. Not only should you submit a high quality writing sample or essay in response to a writing prompt, your essay should be reviewed by a qualified reviewer such as a parent, teachers, counselor, or mentor.  Following is an example of the review criteria from one of the liberal arts colleges hosting a Diversity Weekend:

In general, the most competitive applicants will have the following (**We holistically review all applicants many times, so this is not an exhaustive list, nor does it represent minimums by any measure):

Engaged in a rigorous course selection based on your high school’s context.  This may be IB, AP, honors, or dual enrollment – it just depends on what you offer.

Earn more A’s than B’s.  Most of our students fall in the top quartile to top decile in the class.  We don’t always have this information, but we’ll be looking at their college preparatory coursework.

Most of our students score upwards of 600 on each of the SAT sections (critical reading and math), and around a 27-28 ACT composite score and up, depending on socioeconomic status, student background, home and school context, and a host of other factors.

Involved in activities that interest the student.  These activities could be at school, in the community, or perhaps at home, taking care of younger siblings or elderly grandparents.  We think very, very broadly about “extra-curricular activities”.

Essays that give us a sense of who the student is as well as their writing ability.  We also have a “Why Our College?” supplemental essay, and we’re searching for evidence of knowing our college and understanding why the student might be applying to our college, specifically.

Display a sense of intellectual curiosity.  We want students who want to solve problems, wonder openly about solutions, challenge faculty and ideas, and ask questions of “why” and “how.”

Letters of recommendation that talk about a student’s intellectual curiosity, pursuit of knowledge, and how they engage with coursework.  And of course, we care deeply about the character and personality of the student.

Unique backgrounds.  It’s difficult to quantify in an email, but we are looking to provide additional access to first generation college students, low-income, rural, religiously diverse, LGBT, students of color, veterans, politically diverse (and in particular, conservative students), and undocumented or DACA students.  Swarthmore Essay Review: “In answering our prompt, ‘What keeps you up at night?’, we received our fair share of interesting (sometimes literal) answers.  What piqued our interest were answers that bothered, intrigued, or made students question constructs, ideas, systems, and their identities.”

Following is an example of a winning essay:

The hashtag “Black Lives Matter” has stimulated national, emotional, and often divisive conversations, however, its lesser known companion, “Black Minds Matter” is what keeps me up at night. While President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, provide a historic global example of the heights to which African-Americans can rise, politically, intellectually, and educationally, they are continually viewed as ‘exceptions’ rather than the rule of black scholarly achievement. Despite attending racially-diverse public schools, I too, am considered an ‘exception’ by teachers and non-black classmates. Whether in my elementary school ‘Talented and Gifted’ classes, middle school advanced classes, or high school honors and AP classes, I have always found myself set apart from the general African-American student population in my Monday through Friday life.

Each Saturday night, anticipating my weekly transformation keeps me awake. Each Sunday morning, as I walk through the doors of the Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Marietta, Georgia, I enter a place where black lives, souls, service, and ‘minds’ matter. I am no longer the exception, but the rule. I am surrounded by exceptional black students in an environment where we are encouraged and celebrated for our spiritual, artistic, and intellectual gifts.

I stay awake at night wondering why something so common in my church is so uncommon in my school. What is it that my church has figured out that those in my school cannot comprehend? Why does my church expect every student to strive toward exceptionality when my school seeks only to identify one or two exceptional grains of sand from a beach of brilliance?

From as early as elementary school, I have collaborated with students and ministry leaders at my church to provide tutoring, an academic STEM-focused summer enrichment program, create an ACT Prep Club, host academic celebrations, support an annual college fair, and support college planning workshops for students throughout the metro-Atlanta area. The three largest youth celebrations at my church are the bi-annual academic celebrations and the high school graduation celebration worship service where we celebrate the scholarships earned and colleges to which our students have been accepted. On the second Sunday of each month, high school juniors and seniors from the community meet at our church in “The Next Episode” for a teen Bible Study and college planning session. We challenge each other to bring friends—not just black friends, but other students—from our respective high schools so they may join us in a place where minds matter.

While the larger purpose of my church is to save souls, my peers and I stay awake nightly pondering how we can continue to change perceptions and unlock minds. Although Monday through Friday, we are viewed as ‘exceptions,’ each Sunday, we nurture black minds in ways that should keep teachers up at night wondering, “How can I inspire ‘exceptionality’ in my students?”

  • Recommendation Letters and Nominations: Seek out teachers and nominators who can prepare well written recommendation letters, which should highlight such characteristics as “a student’s intellectual curiosity, pursuit of knowledge, and how the student engages with coursework and classroom discussions. And of course, the character and personality of the student.”  Some programs rely heavily on nominations from schools and community-based organizations.
  • Research:After compiling your list of colleges, visit each college’s website to and write a narrative indicating why this is a college of interest and note any questions you might desire to ask should you be invited to the institution’s Diversity Outreach Program.
  • Email Inquiry: If you are uncertain as to whether you meet the demographic profile of the type of student to which a college is attempting to identify, submit an email inquiry. Your e-mail should highlight your uniqueness, i.e., GPA, test scores, type of family background, leadership positions, organizations, etc. You should include your school code in your email signature. (Note: If you do not know your school code you can look it up at:


Subject: Diversity Weekend Inquiry

Dear Sir/Ma’am (or name of admissions officer):

The purpose of my inquiry is to learn more about diversity days/weekends or other outreach efforts your institution may have for students from my unique background. I am an African-American student from a single-parent working class household (Marietta, GA). I have applied myself academically and been actively involved in my school and community. I would very much like to visit to your campus and explore if my academic goals, personal interests, and career aspirations are a good match for your institution. I would be more than happy to forward my résumé to provide you with a more complete profile.

Thanking you in advance for your time and consideration.

Jamie Smith, Class of 2015
Johnson C. Smith High School (School Code…)
3.95 GPA (on 4.0 scale); 1800 SAT; 27 ACT; Class Rank 25/397
President, National Beta Club; Secretary, National Honor Society