The Benefits of Attending a College With a Diverse Student Body

By Catherine Groux
Posted February 20, 2013 10:00 AM

Campus diversity can bring big benefits to students.
Campus diversity can bring big benefits to students.

When students create a list of prospective colleges, they most likely consider factors like cost, acceptance rates, location, majors and size. Frequently, the diversity of a college's student body is not a top concern for future bachelor's degree seekers. However, research shows that perhaps this should be a factor in the college admissions process, as attending a school with a diverse student population can come with many benefits.

Higher Earnings

A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that students who attend more diverse postsecondary institutions tend to make more money than their peers after graduation. While there are many factors that could affect this link, the study authors believe that individuals who attend a more diverse college simply feel more comfortable working in a global setting. This, in turn, makes them better workers at international firms, which could eventually bring them bigger paychecks.

A Better Fit in the Workforce

As the National Bureau of Economic Research's study pointed out, students can grow to become better workers if they are exposed to diversity in college. As businesses continue to focus on adopting a global perspective, surveys show they are increasingly thinking about the importance of diversity.

A July 2011 survey by Forbes Insights shows that 85% of executives at large global enterprises believe that diversity is crucial to gaining the perspectives and ideas that spark innovation.

"Companies have realized that diversity and inclusion are no longer separate from other parts of the business," said Stuart Feil, editorial director of Forbes Insights. "Organizations in the survey understand that different experiences and different perspectives build the foundation necessary to compete on a global scale."

With companies increasingly focused on diversity, students who are comfortable working in this type of diverse environment have the chance to thrive.

Improved Cognitive Development

In an article on the educational value of diversity, Jonathan R. Alger, president of James Madison University, wrote that campus diversity can have positive academic effects for all students.

"This educational benefit is universal in that all students learn from it, not just minority students who might have received a 'bump' in the admissions process," Alger wrote. "Indeed, majority students who have previously lacked significant direct exposure to minorities frequently have the most to gain from interaction with individuals of other races."

The University of Arizona takes a similar stance on its website, citing studies that show that when students have the chance to face diversity issues in a college setting, it can lead to a more positive college experience as well as increased cognitive development. 

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