When you say diversity card essay do you mean internationally? I am an URM so what could I write about. Now I moved from NYC to tampa Florida and the experience was TOTALLY (seriously) different!!!!! Is there something I can relate this to school and diversity of idea and diversity? Any IDEAS????
Science/premedicine are hardly underrepresented tracks at most universities. The hooks are what sinbad did to further his learning in these areas (RSI is an extremely selective and prestigious summer program, for example).
True hooks will differentiate you from the crowd. Half of the apps will be science/math and will be very, very good. Siemens will help as will RSI. URM is a hook, international is not. There are thousands of internationals for a few slots. True hooks are Olympic athletes, recruited athletes, national science winners, celebrities, high stat URMs especially from deprived backgrounds. Under-represented states are a minor hook if you have competitive stats otherwise.
Bandit is right about the true hooks. For example, I know of six students in our suburban/rural county who will attend Harvard as freshmen in the fall. Their hooks are:
Three are Hispanic, valedictorians, first-generation college, with farm-worker immigrant parents, English as a second language, from underperforming public high schools. All three, from different towns, participated in a special program that helps these types of students become future leaders. Hook = ethnicity/family background and income.
Two (twins) are state-ranked cross country runners and valedictorians from an average public high school. Hook = athlete.
One is a double legacy (both of her older sisters attend Harvard) as well as a valedictorian from a private girls school. Hook = legacy.
Another student in our town turned down Harvard (as well as Stanford, Georgetown and many more) for USC. He, too, is Hispanic, first-generation college, valedictorian, but not English as a second language, and is from an average public high school. Did not participate in the future leaders program. Hook = ethnicity/family income, background.
The things that "hook" one in at Harvard seem to have little to do with community service, test scores, grades, coursework, awards, or even geography, although those are a foundation for having a solid application. Harvard has institutional needs that require it to use diversity, athleticism, legacy, long-established ties with certain private high schools, and socio-economic status as trump cards when selecting a class.
The six students will do wonderfully at Harvard and are very deserving of their acceptances.
(disclaimer: S was waitlisted at Harvard this year and later rejected. He did not fit into any of the above categories. National recognition in his area of interest was a mini-hook in that it got him waitlisted, but it was not enough of one to put him ahead of any of the six students above.)
I don't think accomplishments in academics or ECs could be considered a hook. Actually, I dont think ANY trait that you've got and that even 10 other applicants have is considered a hook. A hook is something that makes you unique. If you're from Alabama and let's say 200 people from Alabama apply, then, compared to them, you're not at all special.
However, if you're from Alabama, but you were born in let's say Conneticut and then you moved to Cali when you were 15, then that could be considered a hook. Because it's very unlikely that anyone has had the exact same experience as you.
To bandit_TX, I agree that being an international is not a hook unto itself. But for me, moving a lot is. No one applying to Harvard this fall will have had the same experience as me with regards to diversity. SO, diversity IS a hook while being an international, or from Masachussets, North Carolina or Timbuktu isn't.
Thus, having 2400 or 1600 on your SAT is NOT a hook. It DOES not make you unique (unless you happen to be the only one with 2400 applying to Harvard which is HIGHLY unlikely).
However, if you have a combination of distinguishing qualities that many applicants have (eg. 2400 on SAT + valedictorian + 1000 hrs of community service + first generation college) THEN that IS a hook.
You might disagree, but that's what I think.
I always thought a hook was something unique about you that made you stand out...my "hook" was something very academic, but I believe it worked in my application since I was eventually accepted...I mean, the only non-academic things I had going was culture (first-generation American, but family from India) and large family. And you can't get in just because you gotta lot of siblings. That being said, I was rather surprised that the committee "bit" my hook...I don't want to say what it was, because it's a giveaway...
But think about other Asian kids who apply - I mean, there are several who I know who had stellar ECs who were rejected outright - I felt terrible telling them I'm going to Harvard when they asked because they were more deserving than I was to an objective observer...most of them aced me on SAT by at least 50 pts to boot. I think it further underscores the idea that you are not in control of your application's future...
eh...I've heard so much about what "actually" is the most important part of your application that I don't know what it actually is. Oh well...I will trust that the reader is the only one who actually knows for certain...