Geographic Diversity as a College Selection Strategy

College Admission Coach; Author

Last Updated: Aug 29, 2012

Location. Location. Location. We often hear this buzzword associated with the real estate market and marketing concepts in general. However, the concept of location is often overlooked as a strategic tool when students consider their college short list. Many students (and parents) often overlook this significance as they are not aware of the strategic angle, “Geographic Diversity.” When strategically applied, the concept of geographic diversity might lead to a better financial aid package.

What is “geographic diversity” and how does it benefit you? Geographic diversity, as a strategic tool, refers to selecting college campuses that (a) are physically within a significant distance from your current residence and (b) not necessarily far from your residence, but are situated in a less-than-ideal location. These two factors can impact your college dollars.

For example, the students I coach live in the Central Valley of California. Some of the towns these students reside in include Holt, Patterson, Tracy, Parlier, Tulare, Hughson, and Gustine. Never heard of them? My point exactly. These are agricultural communities, in non-metropolitan cities—unique little “country” towns that most persons would not recognize on a map. If these students apply to a metropolitan city campus, they offer the new community geographic diversity. In the mix of all things being considered, a college applicant that brings geographic diversity to the table is stacking the deck in his or her favor. The student from the little town should view their residence as an asset. Cha-ching!

Now, let’s talk about geographic diversity as it relates to college campuses situated in less-than-ideal locations. For example, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (UIUC) is a selective college campus. However, the campus is located far from any major cities. They may have more of a challenge recruiting top students to their campus if they are competing with, say, students applying to the University of Chicago. In this context, UIUC may offer a more competitive financial package to lure the student to their campus.

But students beware! Make sure that great financial package coming your way via the geographic diversity is worth it to you. For example, if Joaquin lives in San Francisco or Los Angeles and chooses the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the cultural shock may be a distraction. It is always a smart idea to visit the campus and city and make an informed decision before enrolling at a particular campus.

In summary, when selecting a college campus, don’t overlook the value of location. Consider at least two campuses that might value the unique geographic diversity you bring, and consider campuses that may work harder to recruit you because of their location. Both of these angles may impact your bottom line, the financial package offered, and your overall college experience.

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