College can be a formative time for many students, where they learn how to communicate and interact effectively in the modern world. With the ever-expanding diversity of the United States, ensuring students interact with people from all different walks of life is an essential component of a well-rounded education. So why is diversity important in college?
As you’ll soon see, the advantages of a diverse college atmosphere are numerous. In this blog, you’ll discover how diversity in college benefits students as well as schools.
1. Diversity enhances learning
Diversity on college campuses has a strong positive influence on the learning environment. When students are exposed to opinions, cultures, and life philosophies different from their own, their worldview expands. They see things in another light and can then shift their own perspective accordingly.
According to the American Council on Education, “We learn from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social environment.”2
In discussion-based subjects like literature, art, history, journalism, psychology, and political science, students can benefit greatly from hearing a wide range of beliefs and backgrounds. Hearing diverse perspectives helps students develop a balanced perspective, which provides a solid foundation for wise decision-making.
2. Diversity encourages healthy communication
Another reason why diversity in college is key to student success is that it encourages healthy communication skills in the classroom and beyond.
Some students may not have experienced much cultural or racial diversity before attending college, which makes a diverse college experience even more important.
By experiencing diversity in college, students can learn how to relate to others and appreciate their differences, as well as how to hold respectful conversations. Developing good communication skills can improve engagement in the workplace and their personal lives.
3. Promoting diversity prevents gaps in opportunity
One of the most important reasons colleges need to advocate for a diverse student body is to ensure that all students have a chance at building the future they desire, no matter their background, culture, or beliefs.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Gaps in college opportunity have contributed to diminished social mobility (e.g., the ability to jump to higher income levels across generations) within the United States.”3
A college education can be the key to a student achieving the career of their dreams. The value of a postsecondary degree has increased because of the changes in technology and the need for more skilled workers.3
Additionally, more education can lead to higher earning potential, which can improve the standard of living for minority groups. Annual salary is strongly linked with educational attainment, race, and ethnicity.3 According to the U.S. Dept of Education, not having a bachelor’s degree can play a part in income disparities among adults of different racial groups.3 For individuals of all races and ethnicities, receiving a bachelor’s education can help improve their career and salary prospects.
Therefore, promoting diversity in college can help ensure opportunities are available for all students, no matter their race or background.
4. Diversity strengthens community
Diversity on college campuses enriches the sense of community and belonging for students. When differences are appreciated and respected, students feel more accepted for their differences. Helping students feel more accepted in turn, makes them feel more comfortable and happier in the college setting.
To help build community, college campuses can provide groups and clubs specifically based on unique student interests and beliefs. These groups can help students connect with those who are similar and feel supported in their journey. A few examples of these community-building groups on campuses include:
- Groups for students of color
- LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups
- Special interest groups, such as sports, art, and music clubs
- Groups for non-traditional students, such as married students or those with children
- Religious groups
5. Diversity prepares students for their career
Another compelling reason to advocate for diversity in college is that it helps prepare students for their careers. By teaching students how to relate effectively with all people, they will be better equipped to navigate a diverse workplace.
The cultural diversity of the United States is having a major impact on businesses across industries. One study noted that 85% of participants said diversity is of high importance for their companies.4
Whether a student becomes a nurse, teacher, engineer, data analyst, scientist, politician, or businessperson, they will interact with people who have different perspectives every day.
According to the Society for Health Psychology, “Regardless of the profession one enters, it is highly likely that the employers, employees, co-workers, customers, and clients will be from diverse backgrounds—worldwide. By experiencing diversity in graduate school/college, one is laying the groundwork to be more comfortable working and cooperating with a variety of individuals of all nationalities.”5
Whether you are a student, administrator, professor, or parent, you can help students achieve their dreams by advocating for a diverse, supportive college campus. Visit the Extension Foundation for help in identifying ways to start or improve your diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
Learn more about Wellfleet
At Wellfleet, supporting the diversity of our students is a top priority. To learn more about our inclusive student health insurance plans, head to Wellfleetstudent.com.
1 Frey, W. (2020, July 1). The nation is diversifying even faster than predicted, according to new census data. The Brookings Institution. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/new-census-data-shows-the-nation-is-diversifying-even-faster-than-predicted/.
2 ACE Board of Directors. (2012, June). On the Importance of Diversity in Higher Education. American Council on Education. https://www.acenet.edu/Documents/BoardDiversityStatement-June2012.pdf.
3 Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development and Office of the Under Secretary. (2016, November). Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education. U.S. Department of Education. https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/advancing-diversity-inclusion.pdf.
4 Richards, A. (2011, January 23). Census Data Show Rise in College Degrees, but Also in Racial Gaps in Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/census-data-show-rise-in-college-degrees-but-also-in-racial-gaps-in-education/.
5 Chavez-Strong, T., and Sweeper, D. Diversity Blog: How Diversity on Campus Benefits All Students. Society for Health Psychology. https://societyforhealthpsychology.org/graduate-student/diversity-blog/diversity-blog-how-diversity-on-campus-benefits-all-students/.
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