Student Diversity as an Important Factor in Considering Colleges

Colleges vary widely in the diversity of their college population. Most colleges offer a breakdown of their student population by geographic location and by student diversity. These statistics can be found in the college's view book (marketing materials sent to students or found in high school guidance offices), on its Web site, or in college guides, which can be found in any public library.

If you are looking for low student diversity and you want to attend college with students similar to you, then you might be interested in a Historically Black college, a religious-affiliated university (Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, or others), or a women's college or men's college.

If you are looking for high student diversity, a larger college or university would tend to have more student diversity, drawing from all areas of the United States and other countries. Some students feel more comfortable living and learning in an environment with others who are like them. Other students prefer to interact with and meet people from a variety of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups.

The male/female ratio on university campuses has changed to the point where it has become a factor to consider when researching potential colleges. Colleges which have very imbalanced female to male ratios greater than the norm of 60 percent females versus 40 percent males may be in jeopardy of losing students.

Some colleges work very hard to balance the male/female ratio. This policy, however, can backfire when recruiting students, because it's possible that some well-qualified girls could be rejected in order to attract more boys in order to maintain a gender balance.

Other engineering and technical schools, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), and Harvey Mudd, struggle to attract more female students, so girls may have a slight advantage in applying to these specialty schools.

If the male/female ratio concerns you, then you should be aware of the ratio at a prospective college. The information about the gender ratio is usually available on a college's Web site under the "Freshman Profile" or "Class Profile" of the entering class.