As a person of color, does it actually matter how diverse a college is when picking schools? Have you personally benefited from being in a diverse college environment or interacting with people different from you?

(I posted this in both college life and college search)

TLDR: I don’t see why it matters if I go to a diverse college or not (racially & ethnically or otherwise). Just read the two bullet points at the bottom.

I’m a Community College student that has been thinking about transferring, and thinking about how much diversity (mainly race & ethnicity but also in other ways) matters for the college experience. I’m Bengali American, I don’t practice religion nor do anything cultural, I’m more like your typical American in that sense I guess. While my CC is only 40% white, I’ve been doing it all online so far.

I’ve always heard that diversity is important but can’t tell exactly why it matters for my college experience. I grew up in a diverse city (I don’t wanna say which one, but it’s even called “a diversity bubble.” My high school was 38% white, but it was well known that students of color were concentrated in low level classes and vice versa (I was surrounded by white students in most classes, but I didn’t care at all). The one low level class I did in high school (in 9th grade) was the only one with more POC than white students (only 2 of them). I don’t think any diversity I’ve been exposed to has had any or much of an effect in my life. In fact, I think I would be relatively the same person even if my city and school system had a much higher percentage of white people.

I spent a good amount of time googling and reading various posts about diversity in college, and they just list general things like interacting with people of different backgrounds (not only race but socioeconomic status, political views, religion, etc.) which somehow prepares you for the real world for working with people very different from you, and gives you new perspective on things. Would I not be prepared or not be able to do those if I don’t get exposed to people different from me? Would I be unable to “relate” to different people? (I think relate meaning empathize or sympathize, not necessarily having shared a similar experience to theirs of whatever) The points I read just seem to be vague / general and I haven’t found specific examples of how college students have benefited from being in a diverse environment or interacting with different kinds of people.

  • If you finished or are in college, do you see benefits or had any positive experiences as a result of spending time with people different from? If you have, be specific about it, giving concrete examples or info.
  • As a POC, Would it make any or much of a difference if I went to a college that was say, 80% white, compared to 40-50% white? Again, I don’t care if I’m surrounded my mostly or entirely white students or not.

"Colored person’? What, are we in the Postbellum South?

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It does matter now, because it’s important that we acknowledge diversity. It didn’t really matter when I went because I worked hard to let people see me as me. I never calculated the percentages because I was working on a degree, and not on who was what color.

My attitude had a lot to do with my success on both of my campuses. (I went to a small private and then a huge instate; both were majority dominant.) I would have loved to apply to the HBCU’s, but I didn’t really know about them. I did perform well.

Yes, there were people whom I didn’t know, who made ugly comments, but I just figured they were very ignorant or were raised that way. I couldn’t change them, but I could only control my attitude.

Did I stand out in my Shakespearean course (300 students)? Yes, but because my strong background in foreign languages was latin-based, I had an advantage with latin references in the text. My professor knew me well and indicated that my writing and grades were with some of the best in his classes.

I was able to interact with POC often, in the few clubs that were on campus. This was 40 years ago. I still retain those friendships.

How about a correction in the title to: As a person of color - I am imaging that is what was the original intent was for the OP.

I correct typos, but don’t guess intent. The OP needs to request the change.

Good to know - thought I had seen titles changed in the past.

What is there something wrong with my title? I guess I would remove the phrase “as a person of color” but I think its fine.

Would you like me to change this to “as a person of color”. Or would you like it left as it is?

You know what? sure.

Done.

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Per se, it may not matter to you much or at all.

However, you may want to check on why a college is not very diverse if in theory it should be generally appealing to a more diverse group of students. If it is 75+% one group because it is seen as unfriendly or unsuitable for those outside the 75+% group, you may want to look into why it is seen that way, and whether those reasons are valid or apply to you.

That’s a good idea actually.

I grew up as a racially mixed person, living in predominantly white areas. When I did attend “diverse” schools, POC were generally poorer and relegated to lower classes while the higher classes were generally filled with upper middle class white people (and me). I went to college at a flagship midwestern university which was also predominantly white (80%?) and participated in its honors college,which was whiter still. Though I do not know for sure, I have strong suspicions that the honors college was composed primarily of students from upper middle class families as well. Obviously there wasn’t tons of “diversity” in my schooling and I’ve managed to do fine professionally.

There are, however, a number of benefits of diversity, and by that I mean racially/ethnically as well as socioeconomically, geographically (not just states but urban/rural as well as international), religiously, politically, etc.

You (and others) get to see beyond stereotypes. You meet people from a rural area who love rap, or someone raised in a tenement building who loves opera. Hispanics who don’t speak Spanish or international students who write better English papers than most of the class. A Southern Baptist in an LGBTQ ally group or an atheist doing a thesis on religious buildings. It helps you to realize that stereotypes are just that, and that people are not stereotypes.

Not only do you get to see beyond stereotypes, but you really get to understand different perspectives. For example, you’re assigned a roommate and the two of you eat meals together, hang out, etc. You get to know the person as a person and later on when conversations arise about that person’s experiences (particularly on subjects you already have your own opinions on, be it about a politician, an environmental issue, a political issue, etc) and you’re better able to see the issue from a different side. Right now, our country has a lot of people with their blinders on or who only get their news/media from their own “bubble” which paints a lot of stereotypes about people on the “other” side. But because you’ve already gotten to know your roommate, you’re able to listen and hear that perspective more rationally. This also applies just to people in your classes. It’s a safe environment to hear other perspectives and WHY they think that way and for people to challenge your ideas based on things you’ve never thought about but that they have experienced.

Too often people’s friends and families share a very large percentage of similar beliefs, and so they never challenge each other because they all think alike. Those outside perspectives are key to helping you acknowledge assumptions you never even knew you were making, and make you reevaluate your own positions.

The above benefits, however, are only true if you seek out opportunities for discussions and to be around people that you haven’t generally been around before. Does it mean y’all have to become best friends for life? No. But attending a “diverse” university but only dealing with a homogeneous subset of that population doesn’t provide nearly as many of those benefits. Look for discussion classes, take classes in areas that you are likely to find many differing views or about populations with which you have very little familiarity, participate in clubs or university-sponsored events that are designed to encourage these types of interactions. That’s when you’ll truly be able to take advantage of a university’s diversity.

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