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Feb   2012

Wed

15

More Than Just Racial Diversity

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Tags: academics, diversity, socioeconomic, campus diversity, gender, college diversity, college search

by
Broadcast Journalism Major, Boston University

I’ll admit it—when I first went on campus tours and began my research on different colleges, I automatically assumed that when a school mentioned “diversity,” they meant racial diversity on campus. Being in college has made me realize that diversity doesn’t just mean race or ethnicity—it applies to a number of categories a lot of prospective students may overlook in their college research. Here are some different types of diversity to keep an eye out for:

Academic diversity

Of course all schools have different types of academics, so what does academic diversity really mean? Colleges or universities that have academic diversity offer different majors, minors, classes, concentrations, colleges/schools within the larger university, and so on. Schools with large student bodies allow for more opportunities to experience academic diversity; for example, the three largest schools based on enrollment, Arizona State University, University of Central Florida, and Ohio State University, all have a vast selection of majors and at least a dozen schools within the university. Majors in these schools range from aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering & Computer Science at OSU to restaurant and foodservice management in the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at UCF.

If you prefer a school with an “academic specialty,” you may find they typically have a smaller student body and fewer class options. These schools will put a strong emphasis on one topic, such as communications, applied sciences, or the arts. There are also trade schools or conservatory-style schools. Conservatory schools are very focused, typically on the performing arts, and students are taught specifically about their subject, which could vary from musical theater to piano studies. For example, New England Conservatory of Music has less than 1,000 enrolled and helps students excel in the music field.

Gender diversity

Now this one may sound a little strange, but it is something to keep an eye out for! I know a guy who almost unknowinglyMore Than Just Racial Diversity applied to an all-women college . . . that would’ve been a big surprise!

Though there are more all-women colleges than all-men colleges today, both types of schools are still out there! Students, like those at Barnard College (all-women) or Hampden-Sydney College (all-men), may find they have more academic or extracurricular opportunities, or maybe they just feel more comfortable in a single-sex environment. Whatever the reason may be, these institutions aren’t just things of the past!

If you prefer a co-ed (male and female) school, there are ways to see how gender differs from another school. Each college, whether on their website or in a pamphlet you receive when you visit, will have a male-to-female ratio of the student body. Some schools, like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, have a higher percentage of males than females. Other schools will have the opposite, with a higher ratio of females to males.

Socioeconomic diversity

For more information on how to deal with socioeconomic diversity on campus once you’re at school, be sure to read one of my previous blog posts!

Whichever type of diversity you may be more or less interested in, always try to visit and learn about the college with an open mind. You never know what you’ll find out about the school’s diversity (and not just racial diversity) with a positive attitude!

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