As the acceptance letters start rolling in, the pressure to make a decision can be a bit overwhelming. The next chapter of your life will be spent at blank University. You are trusting that the school you eventually choose will provide the academic and social, which will meet or exceed your expectations. The decision is not an easy one or one to take lightly. Now you can rely on parents, friends, and teachers to assist in the process of choosing a school but eventually the task falls squarely on your shoulders. There are many factors to consider such as geography, affordability, and academic prestige, but I found that the best indicator of happiness at a school was the college tour.
Now the typical tour goes like this: You and the parents arrive at the school. You meet the campus tour guide (typically an undergraduate student). As the tour goes through pristine academic and recreational buildings, your guide is probably smothering you with facts on the school. Something along the lines of “US News and Report stated that blank University had the highest percentage of students who spent a semester studying in a foreign country.” Now facts like the one I have shown serve some purpose, but do not truly give one a sense of revelation or knowledge into the true college experience.
Now as you’re on a college tour consider the following: student diversity in discerning the quality of any institution of higher education. When I was a high school senior the reason why I choose to attend Miami University was in large part the universities’ commitment to recruiting students of color and of first generation status. Miami University is a predominantly white school in terms of race but I was impressed with the resources set aside for students of color, lower socio-economic backgrounds and first generation status. When on your tour make sure to ask about scholarships aimed at recruiting diverse groups/first generation students. Ask about student organizations that will allow you to find students that represent your own cultural values. Really push to find what type of environment or support system exists for students like you. There are multiple ways of finding the answers to questions that pertain to student diversity:
1) Go to the school’s office of diversity affairs
2) Go to the school’s financial aid office and talk to a representative
3) While walking around try to strike up conversations with average students
The great thing about college is that it’s a time to explore and learn about the world outside the community you might come from. Higher education should a center for cultural and intellectual exchange and that is why a student body should be heterogeneous. So when you are on the college tour consider diversity as a factor in making your decision.