If you’re a high school junior or senior, you may already know that choosing the right college is a pretty big deal. Your new beginning at the college or university of your choice focuses not only on academics but also the community you’ll be surrounded by. Therefore, it’s important to choose an environment that you’ll be comfortable in, a school that reflects your values, and a campus that supports all its students. Here are three steps to help you in your search for a diverse, accepting, and open college community.
1. Research campuses and cities
The first obvious step in beginning your college search is to do your own research. The #1 source to use when starting this process are the websites of your colleges and universities of interest. There, you’ll find important information that describes the school’s environment, including diversity rates, student groups, and partnerships with cultural and professional organizations. Pay attention not only to on-campus events and clubs but also what organizations the college is teaming up with to engage students and promote diversity (such as international organizations, cultural events, etc.).
You can also look outside and focus on events and associations in the school’s area or neighboring areas, which may be of interest to you and could even apply to the field you’re planning to go into. While visiting college websites, be sure to take note of what that specific college has to offer you. After you’ve visited multiple websites, take time to compare information between colleges. Draft a list that ranks the universities that are most and least interesting to you based on what you find out about them community- and diversity-wise.
Related: How Important Is Location in My College Decision?
2. Network with your circle and at schools
The next step is to do your part to reach out to others. Communicate with staff at your high school, people in your church, or relatives who have experience with certain colleges you’re interested in. Additionally, you can also reach out to college alumni or admission counselors; most colleges post contact information or directories for this reason. Ask them about their experiences at the school, such as how diverse their student population is, what sociocultural opportunities are provided, and what opportunities there are to engage in outside of campus. If you can make contact with culturally or socially diverse external organizations, have a chat with someone about their background and their work or volunteer opportunities with the school. By interacting with these different groups, you’ll gain valuable information and varied perspectives on the schools you’re interested in. These outlooks may influence your decision when looking for a diverse college.
3. Visit campuses
To be more deeply involved in your college search, get firsthand experience of what on- and off-campus opportunities have to offer by visiting schools and their surrounding areas. Schedule an official campus visit, and if you have the chance, ask about the school’s involvement with the community as well as ways they’re engaging with their diverse student population as a whole. Try to research the college’s involvement ahead of time, as mentioned earlier, so you’re only asking questions you couldn’t find the answers to elsewhere. When visiting off-campus communities, look for those close to campus or those that are partnering or have partnered with the college. After applying later down the line, plan a secondary trip to the schools that are diversely rich and have deeply interested you before deciding where you should ultimately enroll.
Related: 5 Things to Research Again Before Choosing a College
When deciding between colleges, make sure to consider diversity and use these pointers to assist you in your search. Finding diverse communities is an important aspect of personal growth, as it provides you with social and professional skills in dealing with people of various backgrounds. You may even end up considering the people you meet along the way close friends or family in the future.
To start your college search, check out our featured diverse college lists that spotlight schools in the Northeast, East, Midwest, and West.