There is an optional prompt on my PhD application:
censoredSchoolName University regards the diversity of its graduate student body as an important factor in serving the educational mission of the university. We encourage you to share unique, personally important, and/or challenging factors in your background, such as work and life experiences, special interests, culture, socioeconomic status, the quality of your early educational environment, gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. Please discuss how such factors would contribute to the diversity of the entering class, and hence to the experience of your censoredSchoolName classmates.
If I were to answer, what I would write is something about how I grew up in a large family with five siblings all attending college around the same time, so though I come from a middle-class family, I have had to handle much of the financial responsibility of my education. In addition to this, neither of my parents have attained higher than a non-scientific Bachelor's degree, and I have mostly blazed this path under my own independence and ambition.
But I feel that this might not be what the question is really looking for? What I've written above does not make me diverse in the way that I think the University probably wants. I'm a middle-class white male, I will say, which my application has of course already reflected. I'm wondering if I might be better off leaving it blank rather than coming off as forcing a hollow answer, or even pitying myself when there are certainly other applicants with serious disadvantages.