We've received some comments on an item we posted yesterday about why diversity should even be a priority for colleges. Why does it matter if a college is mostly Caucasian if those are the most qualified students, readers asked.
Well, for one thing, many minorities are as qualified. They just face barriers to admission that many white people don't have to deal with. And even more minorities would be as qualified if they had access to the same opportunities as whites beginning as early as preschool, but they don't.
Beyond that, here are four reasons colleges should strive for diversity:
1. Diversity Enhances Creativity
When you're around people who come from a different ethnic background than your own, you're exposed to theories and viewpoints you might never have considered before. You learn to view problems from multiple perspectives and are more likely to come up with an "outside-the-box" solution.
2. Diversity Increases Tolerance
You might have a preconceived notion about a certain racial group derived from movies, media or pop culture that casts vast generalizations on a whole group of people. But when you actually meet and interact with people from that racial or ethnic group, you are more likely to see nuances and recognize that people are people. Every demographic has nice people, mean people, smart people, dumb people, funny people - you name it. It takes exposure to diversity for some to realize that.
3. Diversity Encourages Personal Development
If you're surrounded by diversity and you're becoming more creative and more tolerant, you're growing. You're learning to communicate more effectively and to recognize and respect opinions that are different from your own.
4. Diversity Readies Students for the Workforce
With the internet and social networking and tools like Google Hangout, it's become easier for companies to operate beyond their brick-and-mortar locations. And more and more offices are expanding their reach. That means graduates entering the workforce will be expected to work with people from all different backgrounds. Those who have had experience doing that in college will be more prepared.