Dr. Alexis Georgakopoulos
Nova Southeastern University
The Benefits of Receiving a Diverse Education
Students entering into college today are the most “racially and ethnically diverse in this nation’s history” (Coomes & DeBard, 2004, p. 33). This diverse generation that is beginning to matriculate through college programs are known as the Millennial Generation. As this generation began to enter college, the percentage of white students decreased from 81.5 percent to 69.4 percent (Coomes & DeBard, 2004). Diversity among higher education will continue to play an intricate part in the daily lives of college students as well as others who contribute to campus society. Diversity is more apparent among college campuses than it was thirty-five years ago (Light, 2001). Students represented on campus back then were middle-class, white males (Light, 2001). Now, “slightly over half of students on most campuses are women, and nearly 25 percent of all undergraduates across America are nonwhite” (Light, 2001 p.129). Many of these students are also from families with “modest economic backgrounds” (Light, 2001 p. 129). Students state (Light, 2001) that there are two parts to take into consideration when discussing diversity on campus, access and educational impact. The first part, access, “do students who have different backgrounds have the opportunity to attend any college” (Light, 2001 p. 130). The second part, educational impact, asks, “What is the impact, educationally and personally, on students from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, of attending college with fellow students from diverse backgrounds” (Light, 2001 p. 130). Many students feel that the first part has been resolved and “while access was denied in the past, this is no longer true” (Light, 2001 p. 131). When discussing the importance of a diverse learning environment, students make it a point to say “how well ethnic and racial diversity actually enhances learning depends largely on how well a college builds on, capitalizes on, and proactively strengthens this basic assumption” (Light, 2001 p. 133). Overall, many students feel that in order to receive a well-rounded education, diversity on campus plays an important role.
Students entering into college are looking for the overall college experience and diversity has an impact on these decisions. Research has been done regarding diversity within higher education. Specifically, research regarding the benefits of receiving a diverse education. Studies have been done assessing the affects of a diverse learning environment and students’ thoughts. By enhancing curriculum and interactions with a diverse classroom setting, students will gain intellect and active thinking skills. Some researchers argue that just by placing students in a new environment, intellect and active thinking skills will automatically enhance, therefore this is not due to the diverse surroundings. However, others believe that these enhancements are directly affected by their diverse surroundings.
Establishing an environment which broadens a student’s perspective has been determined by universities and colleges by increasing the amounts of diversity among their campuses. However even with this vital research and the positive effects on learning, some individuals and groups have “challenged the use of admissions practices designed to achieve a diverse student body of the grounds that such practices favor students of color and discriminate against specific white applicants” (Maruyama & Moreno, 2000, p. 9). Courts have ruled that colleges and universities cannot use participation rates among various ethnic and racial groups to justify that they have or do not have diverse student bodies (Maruyama & Moreno, 2000). Colleges and universities also have limited ability to rectify...