Sunday, October 4, 2009

U.S. News: Why Diversity Matters in College

A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to listen to a university professor discuss the effects of the U.S. News rankings on high school students' perceptions of particular colleges. In his study, he discovered that diversity was negatively correlated to the prestige/status of the institution. In other words, high-achieving high school students were more likely to attend schools that were less diverse (predominately white, higher income etc.). These results initially surprised me because many elite colleges and universities make it their mission to admit a talented and diverse class of incoming students each year. Apparently, high school students perceive this as less important. If the student population becomes too diverse, it decreases the prestige of the college/university. First, I think this study acknowledges the ignorance of many students who come from segregated towns and communities. They may not have much exposure to other cultures during their childhood. U.S. News has an article about why diversity matters in college:

1. Diversity expands worldliness.

2. Diversity enhances social development.

3. Diversity prepares students for future career success.

4. Diversity prepares students for work in a global society.

5. Interactions with people different from ourselves increase our knowledge base.

6. Diversity promotes creative thinking.

7. Diversity enhances self-awareness.

8. Diversity enriches the multiple perspectives developed by a liberal arts education.

We all have peers, co-workers, and acquaintances from different backgrounds. An appreciation of our different backgrounds can also lead to more civic engagement in our society.

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