Why Is Cultural Diversity Important for Colleges and Universities?

campus life
liberal arts
diversity, equity, inclusion
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By Shorelight Team
Last updated on August 3, 2023

Cultural diversity makes colleges and universities better places to learn.

Two male and two female students sitting on an outside metal staircase, talking and showing their phone screens to each other.

Often referred to as a “melting pot,” the US welcomes diverse people from around the world to live, work, and study. This cultural diversity is part of what makes US colleges and universities unique places for innovation, growth, and success.

As an international student in the US, you may find yourself far away from home — but if you choose a university that recognizes the importance of diversity in higher education, you can find ways to feel at home, while also learning about other cultures and meeting amazing new friends from around the world.

Let’s take a look at diversity in college, why is diversity important in schools, why is cultural diversity important, and more.

Why Are Diversity and Inclusion Important in College?

Student bodies that have diverse people bring value during college and after graduation. According to U.S. News & World Report, “diversity prepares students for work in a global society… By experiencing diversity in college, you are laying the groundwork to be comfortable working and interacting with a variety of individuals of all nationalities.”

As you think about studying in the USA, look for schools that set a cultural diversity example through diversity events on college campuses, college multicultural centers, or activities that encourage cultural diversity in the classroom. The most diverse universities create places where all students can learn and grow: They expand student awareness, welcome multiple perspectives, and help build social skills.

Advantages of Cultural Diversity in Universities

Why is cultural diversity important, and why is diversity important in college? According to U.S. News & World Report, diversity on college campuses creates spaces for students to discuss different perspectives, learn from peers who come from various backgrounds, and share experiences.

In addition, cultural diversity in colleges and universities offers multiple benefits — from getting an inclusive education to preparing for international career opportunities and much more.

So, why is diversity important in schools? Let’s take a closer look!

Diversity Promotes Creative Thinking

Studying among people from different backgrounds exposes you to multiple cultural perspectives. Thanks to diversity in college, classes feature discussions encompassing viewpoints from people from all walks of life with unique experiences and beliefs, many that may be new to you. Conversations with classmates coming from different countries can encourage you to investigate unfamiliar ideas, think creatively, and consider perspectives you may not have thought about before. You’ll learn and grow in ways you never expected!

Diversity Produces Better Results

Colleges and universities that recognize the importance of diversity in and out of the classroom — from residential life to cultural events — give all students a richer experience. A University of Michigan study showed that educational interactions among racially and ethnically diverse groups resulted in positive learning outcomes, such as students feeling more engaged in class and motivated to study. They also showed that students who attended culturally diverse colleges and universities had strong critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills.

Diversity Promotes Self-Reflection

Being surrounded by people from different cultures, backgrounds, and countries can make you more aware of social biases or challenge previously held beliefs. As you learn from your peers, you may find that spending time in diverse groups inspires self-reflection and promotes cross-cultural awareness, inclusivity, and collaboration.

Understanding different cultures encourages you to become more sensitive to social practices and traditions. This is an important trait to have in any setting, but especially in your future career, as you will learn to effectively work with or even lead diverse teams with cross-cultural awareness.

Diversity in college positively influences your cultural identity by exposing you to new perspectives, challenging belief systems, and emphasizing strong communication and collaboration skills.

How to Research Campus Diversity and Choose a Diverse School

A 2016 U.S. Department of Education report shows that “students report less discrimination and bias at institutions where they perceive a stronger institutional commitment to diversity.” Schools that have diversity on college campuses — and include mentoring and counseling for international students — create more productive environments for everyone.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion [are] very important at KU because [they] enrich the experiences of the entire university community and prepare students to lead.” – Amy Neufeld, former managing director of the Academic Accelerator Program, University of Kansas

If you want to study in the USA, research a potential university’s resources and diversity statistics to find the campus that will best serve you as an international student. For example:

  • How many international students are currently studying at the college?

  • Does the school have an Office of Multicultural Affairs or similar department that supports students studying abroad?

  • Are there multicultural clubs, unions, and activities on campus that support diversity and inclusivity?

When you have picked a few schools, compare them to see which are the most diverse universities. Be sure to check college diversity statistics for the programs that interest you.

How One Student Got Involved with Campus Diversity

With more than 45 nationalities currently represented on campus, Auburn University at Montgomery was the perfect place for Jordanian study abroad student Lama to make diverse friendships and connections with her fellow students and improve her cross cultural awareness.

Make sure you are open to communication with anyone and everyone. It is key, and you will find comfort through it in many ways.” – Lama, Auburn University at Montgomery nursing undergrad

Her involvement with the Muslim Students Association, the International Student Association, the Indian Student Organization, and the Association of Latin American Students earned Lama AUM’s 2019 Student Diversity and Inclusion Award.

“It’s important for students to overcome any apprehension they may feel about interacting with individuals of other cultures, backgrounds, and faiths,” she said. “Being involved with clubs and organizations introduced me to so many new people and ways of life.”

Shorelight Celebrates Cultural Diversity

Shorelight students come from all over the world to study at some of the most diverse universities in the USA. Our advisors offer guidance toward programs that support not only your educational needs and career goals, but also personal experiences that are welcoming and supportive.

When you study in the USA, we want to help you build lifelong friendships and professional connections, in addition to getting a great education. So, while we offer on-campus counseling and guidance, all Shorelight programs also include diverse extracurricular events throughout the college experience.

Wondering which culturally diverse campus is right for you? Shorelight can help >