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The University of St. Thomas (UST) is Houston’s Catholic University, committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the dialogue between faith and reason. Our blog is dedicated to helping you explore your future career possibilities and how to make the most of your college experience.

Diverse Colleges

6 Ways Diverse Colleges Are Benefiting Today’s Students

Most soon-to-be college students devote a lot of time to determining which subject they want to study. It makes sense to carefully consider your academic interests like this. Doing so allows you to start planning for your future.

But you’re interested in more than finding a program that will provide you with a solid education. You want to choose an institution that embraces a variety of perspectives and students from all backgrounds. Regardless of how you identify — in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion, disability and so on — you understand the importance of interacting with people from all walks of life.

You’re not alone. Educators and researchers alike are realizing how diverse classrooms positively affect all students. Explore some of the ways diverse colleges are benefitting learners like you.

How diverse colleges are benefitting students

Being part of a college community that includes students from varying cultures and backgrounds means you’ll be involved in diverse experiences. Those activities and interactions have lasting benefits.

1. Diverse colleges may help students better develop key skills

Most of us recognize that gaining exposure to different perspectives challenges us to think differently than we otherwise might. In a college setting, this can help students achieve tangible benefits. 

An analysis including both a regional and a national dataset suggests that students who are exposed to diverse students and curriculum content experience better learning outcomes. Diversity experiences positively contributed to students’ self-reported academic skills like general knowledge, problem-solving, critical thinking and even writing.

You’ll notice that the skills that respondents mentioned, ones that are particularly emphasized at liberal arts colleges[CS1] , are applicable to nearly every field. One survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges & Universities actually reports business executives and hiring managers rank things like oral communication, critical thinking and writing as some of the most important skills they consider when hiring recent college graduates.

2. Diverse colleges help students develop empathy and self-awareness

Better academic performance in the classroom makes a strong case for attending a diverse college. But don’t forget about how surrounding yourself with people from all walks of life affects you as a person. The American Council on Education (ACE) supports diversity in higher education for numerous reasons, including that it promotes personal growth and challenges preconceived notions.

3. Diverse colleges can encourage students to be active community members

Strong communities are really a result of engaged citizens. Parents who demand better education, providers who advocate for lower healthcare costs and business leaders who encourage volunteerism are all examples of community members who can effect positive change in their own backyards. The more these individuals interact with one another, the more common ground they find.

Along those lines, there’s evidence to suggest that students who are involved in diverse experiences during college are more likely to play an active role in their communities. The same analysis from above reports that informal diversity experiences are significantly associated with both citizenship and cultural engagement. 

4. Diverse colleges prepare students for today’s workforce

Gaining a diversity of experiences can clearly affect graduates’ preparedness for employment from a practical perspective. The American population today is vastly different than it was several decades ago. Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows how the racial distribution has changed just from 2010. It’s particularly interesting to note that the share of white, non-Hispanic individuals is significantly smaller for the under-18 population than for older generations — and it’s declining.

Students who don’t learn to think beyond their personal point of view are going to have a difficult time adjusting to the modern working world.

5. Diverse colleges can positively contribute to businesses

When colleges and universities open their doors to students from all backgrounds, they’re preparing each of those future graduates for the professional world. That contributes to a diverse workforce that can benefit organizations and the larger economy.

A recent study focusing on the financial performance of more than 1,000 companies shows that organizations in the top quartile for diversity — in terms of gender as well as ethnicity and culture — are significantly likely to financially outperform organizations in the lowest quartile. The effect diversity has on executive teams is particularly notable. According to the research, businesses with the most ethnically diverse leadership teams are 33 percent more likely to outperform their peers when it comes to profitability.

6. Diverse colleges can create more equitable society

The potential to make a good living is often responsible — at least in part — for many students’ motivation to obtain a degree in the first place. Data continues to show that college graduates earn more than their peers who never obtain a bachelor’s degree. They’re also less likely to face unemployment.

But the reality is there are racial and ethnic disparities in both degree attainment and employment earnings. By opening their doors to students from all walks of life, diverse colleges are playing an active role in helping fill these gaps. An equitable approach to education can help create a better world for everyone.

Discover the possibilities

By attending one of the more diverse colleges, you stand to become a successful professional who positively contributes to your community. You could also gain rich experiences and develop lifelong friendships.

If you’re eager to take the next step in your education journey, it might be time to start researching specific schools. You may be interested to know that at the University of St. Thomas, learners come from more than 60 countries — and 68 percent of students are ethnically diverse. To find out how you could achieve your personal and professionals goals here, visit our Academic programs page


 [CS1]Add link to “Appreciating the True Value of a Liberal Arts Education” once published.

About the Author — Staff

AvatarThe University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic, liberal arts university in Houston, Texas. We have 35+ undergraduate majors including STEM, Nursing, Business, Education and Pre-Med. Located in a vibrant urban environment just minutes from downtown and the famed Texas Medical Center, we welcome students of all races and religions to our diverse and collaborative campus.

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