School Colors: Why Student Diversity Matters
University rankings used to take into account little more than the obvious factors: grants, research facilities, professorships, and the average success of its graduates, financial or otherwise. These days, the judges are looking at yet another facet: student diversity. Demographics have come to mean more than skin colors in the classroom; indeed, how diverse your school is can have an impact on your eventual job opportunities.
Accessible technology, fast travel, and an increasingly “flat” global marketplace have made it a must to be able to interact in different environments with different people. In other words, if you went to school with people from all over the world, you’ve got an edge over a graduate whose school has less student variety. It’s not quite as telling as your grades or your experience, but in a job market dominated by global-minded companies (or companies that like to think they are), it’s a plus that’s worth looking into.
The Society for Human Resource Management, a professional association based in Virginia, reports that 69% of American companies put a premium on diversity. Among other things, this means that they make it a point to ensure that all employees are able to take in different cultural backgrounds. If it isn’t already, in the next few years it might be quite common for interviewers to bring up school diversity when screening candidates.
So what exactly constitutes diversity? To be considered diverse, a college or university should aim to take in students from a broad range of backgrounds, whether it’s economic, ethnic, religious, political, or educational. The same applies for faculty members and other employees, although it’s not as pronounced. Diversity can also be reflected in the types of student organizations, campus events, internship opportunities, and student exchange programs on offer.
More than the job opportunities, however, a diverse institution makes for a much more rewarding school experience. Working with people from all walks of life allows a student to encounter different ways of thinking, as well as out-of-the-box approaches to problems ranging from calculus equations to taking a stand on tuition fee increases. Several surveys have shown that students from diverse universities have better satisfaction levels, both socially and academically.
If you want to learn more about diversity in your school or want to take it into account when choosing one, visit the school’s cultural affairs office (or the equivalent) and see what services are offered to different communities. It may not seem to matter when you’re knee-deep in papers and exams, but you just might be thankful for it down the road.